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Feb 02 2012

More bad science in the literature

That sad article on gyres as an explanation for everything has had more fallout: not only has it been removed from Science Daily’s site, not only has Case Western retracted the press release, but one of the editors at the journal Life has resigned his position over it. The editorial board of the journal was completely surprised by the wretched content of the paper, which is not encouraging; apparently they exercise so little oversight at the journal that they were unaware of the crap their reviewers were passing through. One board member thinks it is a hoax, and laughed it off. Think about that; your shiny new journal has just published total garbage, and instead of being brought up short and questioning the quality control of the review process, you think it is amusing that what you consider an obvious hoax slipped in? There’s something seriously wrong there.

Add this to the list of failures at Life: the paper immediaely after Andrulis’s is this one, “Is Life Unique?”, by David Abel. Guess what? It’s Intelligent Design creationism crap. Here’s the abstract:

Abstract: Is life physicochemically unique? No. Is life unique? Yes. Life manifests innumerable formalisms that cannot be generated or explained by physicodynamics alone. Life pursues thousands of biofunctional goals, not the least of which is staying alive. Neither physicodynamics, nor evolution, pursue goals. Life is largely directed by linear digital programming and by the Prescriptive Information (PI) instantiated particularly into physicodynamically indeterminate nucleotide sequencing. Epigenomic controls only compound the sophistication of these formalisms. Life employs representationalism through the use of symbol systems. Life manifests autonomy, homeostasis far from equilibrium in the harshest of environments, positive and negative feedback mechanisms, prevention and correction of its own errors, and organization of its components into Sustained Functional Systems (SFS). Chance and necessity—heat agitation and the cause-and-effect determinism of nature’s orderliness—cannot spawn formalisms such as mathematics, language, symbol systems, coding, decoding, logic, organization (not to be confused with mere self-ordering), integration of circuits, computational success, and the pursuit of functionality. All of these characteristics of life are formal, not physical.

It’s drivel. The whole thing is one long windy argument from assertion, as in the penultimate sentence above, which is simply the bald claim that higher order functions of human functions like cognition cannot be derived from chemistry and physics. The paper itself contains no data at all — no experiments, measurements, or observations — but it is full of novel acronyms. Apparently, all you need to do to make it as a big time creationist is to make up new words and phrases and string them together. I checked out some of his other papers — he seems to be some kind of computer science guy, and this is all he does, is write impenetrably glib papers full of pretentious acronyms, posing as an expert on biology while saying nothing credible about biology at all.

But he certainly has an impressive address and affiliation!

Department of ProtoBioCybernetics and ProtoBioSemiotics, Origin of Life Science Foundation, Inc., 113-120 Hedgewood Drive, Greenbelt, MD 20770

Whoa. Sounds major. Unfortunately, I’ve never heard of this foundation, and all I could find out about it is a webpage in which they announce a million dollar prize for “proposing a highly plausible natural-process mechanism for the spontaneous rise of genetic instructions in nature sufficient to give rise to life.” This sounds suspiciously like standard creationist dodging — they’ll never have to award this prize. So I looked at their judging, and at first glance it seems impressive: they have over 200 judges, including Jack Szostak, Peter Atkins, Paul Davies, and Edward O. Wilson. But then, they mention that judging will be in 5 tiers, and only the ones that pass all other reviews will reach the Nobel prize winners and famous scientists…and the first tier is an “in-house review”. I suspect the big names will never be pestered by this prize committee. Actually, I wonder if most of these judges know that their name is on this list. Maybe you should look in case you’ve been drafted.

I started wondering about this “in-house staff” who would be doing the initial judging, and about the Origin of Life Science Foundation itself. It’s awfully hard to track down — its only web presence is the prize page, and its only employee seems to be…David L. Abel. So I looked it up in google maps to see where the foundation’s majestic headquarters might be.

Origins of Life Science Foundation

It’s a house in a residential neighborhood of a Maryland suburb. It made me wonder if maybe the Department of ProtoBioCybernetics was located in the master bathroom, while he Department of ProtoBioSemiotics was in the hall closet, or whether both were consolidated into a sunny corner of the kitchen. At least it seems to be a step above Patriot University, but it’s still some guy’s house that he’s calling a Foundation with multiple implied Departments with fancy titles.

That’s not all! Mr Abel seems to be a linchpin of the Intelligent Design movement, who manages to work his rambling, incoherent publications into all kinds of journals. In fact, the Discovery Institute just bragged about all their peer-reviewed scientific publications, and there, in their list of over 70 works published over the last 25 years or so, which includes papers by such famous scientists as William Lane Craig and John A. Davison, and prestigious journals like Rivisti di Biologia and their own in-house pet journal, BIO-Complexity, and also seems to include books that were not peer-reviewed at all, are twelve papers by Mr Fancy-Titled-Suburban-House. 17% of the Intelligent Design creationism movement’s ‘scientific’ output comes out of that dwelling in Maryland.

I’d love to see the gigantic laboratory he must have in there.

For your edification, I’ve included the official complete list of Intelligent Design creationism’s publications below the fold. It’s an impressively short list of hackery.

And may I suggest that the journal Life has deeper problems than simply accidentally allowing one bad paper to slip into publication? I think it needs a negative impact factor.

(Also on Sb)


The Discovery Institute’s very own list of the entirety of the intelligent design literature

Publications Supportive of Intelligent Design Published in Peer-Reviewed Scientific Journals, Conference Proceedings, or Scientific Anthologies.

  1. Joseph A. Kuhn, “Dissecting Darwinism,” Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, Vol. 25(1): 41-47 (2012).

  2. David L. Abel, “Is Life Unique?,” Life, Vol. 2:106-134 (2012).

  3. Douglas D. Axe, Philip Lu, and Stephanie Flatau, “A Stylus-Generated Artificial Genome with Analogy to Minimal Bacterial Genomes,” BIO-Complexity, Vol. 2011(3) (2011).

  4. Stephen C. Meyer and Paul A. Nelson, “Can the Origin of the Genetic Code Be Explained by Direct RNA Templating?,” BIO-Complexity, Vol. 2011(2) (2011).

  5. Ann K. Gauger and Douglas D. Axe, “The Evolutionary Accessibility of New Enzyme Functions: A Case Study from the Biotin Pathway,” BIO-Complexity, Vol. 2011(1) (2011).

  6. Ann K. Gauger, Stephanie Ebnet, Pamela F. Fahey, and Ralph Seelke, “Reductive Evolution Can Prevent Populations from Taking Simple Adaptive Paths to High Fitness,” BIO-Complexity, Vol. 2010 (2) (2010).

  7. Michael J. Behe, “Experimental Evolution, Loss-of-Function Mutations, and ‘The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution,’” The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 85(4):1-27 (December 2010).

  8. Douglas D. Axe, “The Limits of Complex Adaptation: An Analysis Based on a Simple Model of Structured Bacterial Populations,” BIO-Complexity, Vol. 2010(4):1 (2010).

  9. Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, “Mutagenesis in Physalis pubescens L. ssp. floridana: Some further research on Dollo’s Law and the Law of Recurrent Variation,” Floriculture and Ornamental Biotechnology, 1-21 (2010).

  10. George Montañez, Winston Ewert, William A. Dembski, and Robert J. Marks II, “A Vivisection of the ev Computer Organism: Identifying Sources of Active Information,” BIO-Complexity, Vol. 2010(3) (2010).

  11. William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II, “The Search for a Search: Measuring the Information Cost of Higher Level Search,” Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics, Vol. 14 (5):475-486 (2010).

  12. Douglas D. Axe, “The Case Against a Darwinian Origin of Protein Folds,” BIO-Complexity, Vol. 2010 (1) (2010).

  13. Winston Ewert, George Montañez, William Dembski and Robert J. Marks II, “Efficient Per Query Information Extraction from a Hamming Oracle,” 42nd South Eastern Symposium on System Theory, pp. 290-297 (March, 2010).

  14. David L. Abel, “Constraints vs Controls,” The Open Cybernetics and Systemics Journal, Vol. 4:14-27 (January 20, 2010).

  15. David L. Abel, “The GS (genetic selection) Principle,” Frontiers in Bioscience, Vol. 14:2959-2969 (January 1, 2010).

  16. D. Halsmer, J. Asper, N. Roman, and T. Todd, “The Coherence of an Engineered World,” International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics, Vol. 4(1):47–65 (2009).

  17. William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II, “Bernoulli’s Principle of Insufficient Reason and Conservation of Information in Computer Search,” Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, pp. 2647 – 2652 (October, 2009).

  18. William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II, “Conservation of Information in Search: Measuring the Cost of Success,” IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics-Part A: Systems and Humans, Vol. 39(5):1051-1061 (September, 2009).

  19. David L. Abel, “The Universal Plausibility Metric (UPM) & Principle (UPP),” Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling, Vol. 6(27) (2009).

  20. David L. Abel, “The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity,” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Vol. 10:247-291 (2009).

  21. David L. Abel, “The biosemiosis of prescriptive information,” Semiotica, Vol. 174(1/4):1-19 (2009).

  22. A. C. McIntosh, “Information and Entropy – Top-Down or Bottom-Up Development in Living Systems,” International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics, Vol. 4(4):351-385 (2009).

  23. A.C. McIntosh, “Evidence of design in bird feathers and avian respiration,” International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics, Vol. 4(2):154–169 (2009).

  24. David L. Abel, “The ‘Cybernetic Cut’: Progressing from Description to Prescription in Systems Theory,” The Open Cybernetics and Systemics Journal, Vol. 2:252-262 (2008).

  25. Richard v. Sternberg, “DNA Codes and Information: Formal Structures and Relational Causes,” Acta Biotheoretica, Vol. 56(3):205-232 (September, 2008).

  26. Douglas D. Axe, Brendan W. Dixon, Philip Lu, “Stylus: A System for Evolutionary Experimentation Based on a Protein/Proteome Model with Non-Arbitrary Functional Constraints,” PLoS One, Vol. 3(6):e2246 (June 2008).

  27. Michael Sherman, “Universal Genome in the Origin of Metazoa: Thoughts About Evolution,” Cell Cycle, Vol. 6(15):1873-1877 (August 1, 2007).

  28. Kirk K. Durston, David K. Y. Chiu, David L. Abel, Jack T. Trevors, “Measuring the functional sequence complexity of proteins,” Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling, Vol. 4:47 (2007).

  29. David L. Abel, “Complexity, self-organization, and emergence at the edge of chaos in life-origin models,” Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, Vol. 93:1-20 (2007).

  30. Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, Kurt Stüber, Heinz Saedler, Jeong Hee Kim, “Biodiversity and Dollo’s Law: To What Extent can the Phenotypic Differences between Misopates orontium and Antirrhinum majus be Bridged by Mutagenesis,” Bioremediation, Biodiversity and Bioavailability, Vol. 1(1):1-30 (2007).

  31. Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, “Mutations: The Law of Recurrent Variation,” Floriculture, Ornamental and Plant Biotechnology, Vol. 1:601-607 (2006).

  32. David L. Abel and Jack T. Trevors, “Self-organization vs. self-ordering events in life-origin models,” Physics of Life Reviews, Vol. 3:211–228 (2006).

  33. David L. Abel and Jack T. Trevors, “More than Metaphor: Genomes Are Objective Sign Systems,” Journal of BioSemiotics, Vol. 1(2):253-267 (2006).

  34. Øyvind Albert Voie, “Biological function and the genetic code are interdependent,” Chaos, Solitons and Fractals, Vol. 28:1000–1004 (2006).

  35. Kirk Durston and David K. Y. Chiu, “A Functional Entropy Model for Biological Sequences,” Dynamics of Continuous, Discrete & Impulsive Systems: Series B Supplement (2005).

  36. David L. Abel and Jack T. Trevors, “Three subsets of sequence complexity and their relevance to biopolymeric information,” Theoretical Biology and Medical Modeling, Vol. 2(29):1-15 (August 11, 2005).

  37. John A. Davison, “A Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis,” Rivista di Biologia/Biology Forum, Vol. 98: 155-166 (2005).

  38. Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, “Mutation Breeding, Evolution, and the Law of Recurrent Variation,” Recent Research Developments in Genetics & Breeding, Vol. 2:45-70 (2005).

  39. Douglas D. Axe, “Estimating the Prevalence of Protein Sequences Adopting Functional Enzyme Folds,” Journal of Molecular Biology, Vol. 341:1295–1315 (2004).

  40. Michael Behe and David W. Snoke, “Simulating evolution by gene duplication of protein features that require multiple amino acid residues,” Protein Science, Vol. 13 (2004).

  41. Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, “Dynamic genomes, morphological stasis, and the origin of irreducible complexity,” in Valerio Parisi, Valeria De Fonzo, and Filippo Aluffi-Pentini eds., Dynamical Genetics (2004).

  42. Stephen C. Meyer, “The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories,” Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, Vol. 117(2):213-239 (2004) (HTML).

  43. John Angus Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer, Darwinism, Design, and Public Education (“DDPE”) (East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Press, 2003).

  44. Frank J. Tipler, “Intelligent Life in Cosmology,” International Journal of Astrobiology, Vol. 2(2): 141-148 (2003).

  45. David L. Abel, “Is Life reducible to complexity?,” Fundamentals of Life, Chapter 1.2 (2002).

  46. David K.Y. Chiu and Thomas W.H. Lui, “Integrated Use of Multiple Interdependent Patterns for Biomolecular Sequence Analysis,” International Journal of Fuzzy Systems, Vol. 4(3):766-775 (September 2002).

  47. Michael J. Denton, Craig J. Marshall, and Michael Legge, “The Protein Folds as Platonic Forms: New Support for the pre-Darwinian Conception of Evolution by Natural Law,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 219: 325-342 (2002).

  48. Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig and Heinz Saedler, “Chromosome Rearrangement and Transposable Elements,” Annual Review of Genetics, Vol. 36:389–410 (2002).

  49. Douglas D. Axe, “Extreme Functional Sensitivity to Conservative Amino Acid Changes on Enzyme Exteriors,” Journal of Molecular Biology, Vol. 301:585-595 (2000).

  50. Solomon Victor and Vijaya M. Nayak, “Evolutionary anticipation of the human heart,” Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, Vol. 82:297-302 (2000).

  51. Solomon Victor, Vljaya M. Nayek, and Raveen Rajasingh, “Evolution of the Ventricles,” Texas Heart Institute Journal, Vol. 26:168-175 (1999).

  52. W. A. Dembski, The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance through Small Probabilities (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

  53. R. Kunze, H. Saedler, and W.-E. Lönnig, “Plant Transposable Elements,” in Advances in Botanical Research, Vol. 27:331-409 (Academic Press, 1997).

  54. Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (New York: The Free Press, 1996).

  55. Charles B. Thaxton, Walter L. Bradley, Roger L. Olsen, The Mystery of Life’s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories (New York: Philosophical Library, 1984; Dallas, Texas: Lewis & Stanley Publishing, 4th ed., 1992).

  56. Stanley L. Jaki, “Teaching of Transcendence in Physics,” American Journal of Physics, Vol. 55(10):884-888 (October 1987).

  57. Granville Sewell, “Postscript,” in Analysis of a Finite Element Method: PDE/PROTRAN (New York: Springer Verlag, 1985) (HTML).

  58. William G. Pollard, “Rumors of transcendence in physics,” American Journal of Physics, Vol. 52 (10) (October 1984).

  59. Peer-Edited or Editor-Reviewed Articles Supportive of Intelligent Design Published in Scientific Journals, Scientific Anthologies and Conference Proceedings

  60. A. C. McIntosh, “Functional Information and Entropy in Living Systems,” Design and Nature III: Comparing Design in Nature with Science and Engineering, Vol. 87 (Ashurt, Southampton, United Kindom: WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment, WIT Press, 2006).

  61. Jonathan Wells, “Do Centrioles Generate a Polar Ejection Force?” Rivista di Biologia /Biology Forum, Vol. 98:71-96 (2005).

  62. Heinz-Albert Becker and Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, “Transposons: Eukaryotic,” Encyclopedia of Life Sciences (John Wiley & Sons, 2005).

  63. Scott A. Minnich and Stephen C. Meyer, “Genetic analysis of coordinate flagellar and type III regulatory circuits in pathogenic bacteria,” Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Design & Nature, Rhodes, Greece, edited by M.W. Collins and C.A. Brebbia (Ashurst, Southampton, United Kingdom: WIT Press, 2004).

  64. Four science articles in William A. Dembski and Michael Ruse, eds., Debating Design: From Darwin to DNA (Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2004) (hereinafter “Debating Design”).

  65. Granville Sewell, “A Mathematician’s View of Evolution,” The Mathematical Intelligencer, Vol. 22(4) (2000). (HTML).
  66. Articles Supportive of Intelligent Design Published in Peer-Reviewed Philosophy Journals, or Peer-Reviewed Philosophy Books Supportive of Intelligent Design

  67. Michael C. Rea, World without Design : The Ontological Consequences of Naturalism (Oxford University Press, 2004).

  68. William Lane Craig, “Design and the Anthropic Fine-Tuning of the Universe,” in God and Design: The Teleological Argument and Modern Science, pp. 155-177. (Neil Manson ed., London: Routledge, 2003).

  69. Michael Behe, “Reply to my Critic: A Response to Reviews of Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution,” Biology and Philosophy, Vol. 16, 685–709, (2001).

  70. Del Ratzsch, Nature, Design, and Science: The Status of Design in Natural Science (State University of New York Press, 2001).

  71. William Lane Craig, “The Anthropic Principle,” in The History of Science and Religion in the Western Tradition: An Encyclopedia, pp. 366-368 (Gary B. Ferngren, general ed., Garland Publishing, 2000).

  72. Michael Behe, “Self-Organization and Irreducibly Complex Systems: A Reply to Shanks and Joplin,” Philosophy of Biology, Vol. 67(1):155-162 (March, 2000).

  73. William Lane Craig, “Barrow and Tipler on the Anthropic Principle vs. Divine Design,” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 38: 389-395 (1988).

  74. William Lane Craig, “God, Creation, and Mr. Davies,” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 37: 168-175 (1986).

62 comments

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  1. 1
    TV200

    Well, PZ, if you can quickly give me some “highly plausible” jargon to wow him with, I’ll stop by on my way home from work, pick up the prize and we can split it.

  2. 2
    David Marjanović

    The editorial board of the journal was completely surprised by the wretched content of the paper, which is not encouraging; apparently they exercise so little oversight at the journal that they were unaware of the crap their reviewers were passing through. One board member thinks it is a hoax, and laughed at off.

    Just popping in to say how utterly fucking baffling this is. Who invited such bozos to an editorial board!?!

  3. 3
    David Marjanović

    …alternatively, how the fuck is it possible that manuscripts bypass the editorial board?

    I need to go to bed.

  4. 4
    'Tis Himself

    Life pursues thousands of biofunctional goals, not the least of which is staying alive.

    This claim is easy to refute: No, it doesn’t.

  5. 5
    Glen Davidson

    Life employs representationalism through the use of symbol systems.

    That surely is a load of ID (extreme BS).

    Gee, what does CCC symbolize, moron? And don’t say “proline,” that’s just what it codes for, a cause in a chain of causes needed for any life of which we know.

    That’s, of course, where the whole ID shit blows up, re their dishonest claim that life exhibits the coding that intelligent agents produce. They assume that the genetic code is symbolic, because they’re IDiots, and there’s not the slightest evidence that it’s symbolic, abstract, or representational. The rest of real marks of design are also missing, naturally.

    Lie constantly and in as many venues as possible, including supposed “science” journals, though, and you might get your lies accepted as truth.

    Glen Davidson

  6. 6
    mck9

    When the Origin of Life Science Foundation refers to “in-house review,” they mean exactly that.

  7. 7
    Gregory Greenwood

    Chance and necessity—heat agitation and the cause-and-effect determinism of nature’s orderliness—cannot spawn formalisms such as mathematics, language, symbol systems, coding, decoding, logic, organization (not to be confused with mere self-ordering), integration of circuits, computational success, and the pursuit of functionality.

    This list seems incomplete to me…

    Hmmm… what is missing here?

    Oh, that’s right – creationists usually top off a list-O’-lies like this by whining “evolution can’t explain love/loyalty/courage/altruism”…

    Your slipping, Mr Abel.

  8. 8
    Synfandel

    All you need to Impress the Ignorant (II) is a tidal wave of Techno Babble (TB) employing lots of Totally Made Up Acronyms (TMUAs) to make you Look Educated (LE).

  9. 9
    skepticlese

    Did a little more digging and found some additional info on this clown: he claims to have a book in the works titled “The First Gene: The Birth of Programming, Messaging and Formal Control” purported by him to soon be published by “LongView Press Academic: Biolog. Res. Div.: New York, NY.” Guess what? The address, 244 5th Avenue, Suite G228, New York, NY 10001, appears to be a VIRTUAL OFFICE–that is, a company (NYMAIL)that provides a prestigious address (244 5th Ave, with suite number), where customers can receive their personal/business mail and packages), voice-mail numbers, fax-to-email numbers, and they also rent conference room space.

    Guess what, there’s more: a U.S. federal trademark registration was filed for LONGVIEW PRESS by Abel, David L., Greenbelt, Maryland back in 1995. http://www.trademarkia.com/longview-press-75029106.html

    When your a peer of one, it seems easy to get reviewed.

  10. 10
    reggie

    You know, looking over the Discovery Institute’s list, a lot of names keep popping up over and over, as if all their “best” work was make by a handful of people. Abel is the worst offender (12), but Axe is up there (8), as well as Lönnig (6), Dembski (5), Marks (5), and Trevors (5). Lots of others had 2 or 3 papers to their name.

  11. 11
    MetzO'Magic

    That last picture of Patriot ‘University’ on the page that PZ linked to… hey, isn’t that Fred Flintstone’s bowling ball in the foreground, with Dino’s skull sitting next to it? They have everything they need to send the theory of evolution off packing for good sitting right there in their own driveway, and they… IDiots. Pfft!

  12. 12
    skepticlese

    My mistake–his book is already published and on Amazon for, get this, $29.68. It’s received 5 reviews (all 5 stars, too)! I’d buy it just to tear it apart, but not being a biologist, I might be able to smell the bull, but won’t be able to explain why it’s scatological. And second, no way I’m giving this clown a cent of my money.

  13. 13
    feralboy12

    It made me wonder if maybe the Department of ProtoBioCybernetics was located in the master bathroom

    No, that’s the “think tank.”
    Killed By Fish

  14. 14
    ariamezzo

    I’ve noticed a trend. The shittier a website looks, the shittier its content. With few exceptions this rule rings true.

  15. 15
    Moggie

    72 publications? The DI have their own pretend journal, and they still haven’t managed to reach three figures? That list has a whopping three works from 2011. That’s pitiful.

  16. 16
    myeck waters

    mck9 #6

    When the Origin of Life Science Foundation refers to “in-house review,” they mean exactly that.

    It’s a step up from the outhouse review they had at their previous location.

  17. 17
    Larry

    I wonder if the neighbors of the Foundation are just a little pissed at the all-night arrivals and departures of world’s leading lights in protobiocybernetics, not too mention the too-loud music being played in the backyard hot tub gatherings of protobiosemiotic researchers. I hear they are a wild and crazy bunch.

  18. 18
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    William Lane Craig is a scientist now?

  19. 19
    bcwebb

    If you google a group of names from their “judges list” you find that someone has been posting numerous places using the judges names as evidence that the “foundation” is scientifically valid. Lovely.

    Issac Newton endorses this statement….

  20. 20
    jaycee

    WTF is ‘physicodynamics’?

  21. 21
    lauradiederich

    wow. Suffice it to say, if I wanted to, I could take a long walk to that place. Maybe I should sometime /: I would like to see this secret underground laboratory, and maybe get some tips on making my own!

  22. 22
    Snake

    Depressingly, some of these are decent journals of fairly good reputation. Hell, I’ve had stuff published in J Mol Biol and Protein Science, and in both places it’s been through the full grilling of peer review.

    This makes be a sad reptile.

  23. 23
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    When your a peer of one, it seems easy to get reviewed.

    “I can’t get any of my work peer reviewed because I’m peerless!”

    “What, you couldn’t find anyone to sink to your level?”

  24. 24
    rickschauer

    After 10,000 years they have 70 journal articles and the bible to show for their efforts. Not even a page a year of scholarly achievement – that all must be believed with faith since they offer no observable evidence.

    And PZ, great job exposing the fraud…I vote you muckraker of the year!

  25. 25
    james9999

    Great find, PZ.

    Really funny that David Abel is the Discovery Institute’s poster boy for research. 13 of the 72 are his. Also interesting that the Discovery Institute considers philosophy journals as part of “scientific journals.”

    I searched there is no evidence that he has a PhD in UMI, but he does use the title. Maybe like, Dr. Kent Hovind? Seriously, what’s his PhD in because he’s only job seems to be for “We train computers” in Columbia, MD.

    Maybe he can tell his the title of dissertation, field and school?

    There are some very interesting things about who cites his papers. The first being that in many cases, he and his co-authors make up the bulk of citing his papers.

    Secondly, several of his co-authors who are employed or formerly employed by universities are creationists or IDiots. Take the names from one of his papers: David K. Y. Chiu, Kirk Durston, and Jack T. Trevors. All these people work for the SAME university, but in different departments!!

    Meanwhile David Klinghoffer, in ‘Signature of the Controversy,’ cites that paper by Abel, Chiu, Durston, and Trevors (published in ‘Theoretical Biology and Medical Modeling’) to argue against a PNAS research article by Robert Hazen, et al. Seriously.

    Hazen’s article is in an excellent journal backed by empirical data. Klinghoffer’s citation of Abel, et al’s paper contains no empirical data/testing and no one on the paper even has a degree in the life sciences field, except Trevors who is a creationist and part of Abel’s organization (and co-author of 5 Abel articles).

    Just one more reason why no one takes intelligent design authors seriously and freely dismiss their “peer reviewed publications.”

  26. 26
    Reginald Selkirk

    Publications Supportive of Intelligent Design Published in Peer-Reviewed Scientific Journals, Conference Proceedings, or Scientific Anthologies.

    Ooh, that sounds impressive. Which one of those categories does this fit in?
    Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (New York: The Free Press, 1996).
    .
    Was it published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal? Or in a conference proceedings? Or perhaps in a scientific anthology?

  27. 27
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    Was it published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal? Or in a conference proceedings? Or perhaps in a scientific anthology?

    Better! It was published ON THE INTERNETS.

  28. 28
    ambassadorfromverdammt

    Whenever I read something like that abstract, I ‘hear’ it in Graham Chapman’s voice. Is there something wrong with me?

  29. 29
    james9999

    The only dissertation I found a citation for a “David L. Abel” was for a “D. Min.” from Concordia Theological Seminary in 1980.

    Not sure if its the same guy, but certainly no PhD.

  30. 30
    Reginald Selkirk

    Snake #22: Depressingly, some of these are decent journals of fairly good reputation. Hell, I’ve had stuff published in J Mol Biol and Protein Science, and in both places it’s been through the full grilling of peer review.

    Ah, but you probably published a paper on protein science in Protein Science. I’m guessing you didn’t publish a paper on population genetics there, with a physicist as your co-author. And then have your ass handed to you by Michael Lynch.

  31. 31
    Therrin

    Come on PZ, everyone knows the best [mad] scientist laboratories are underground. The whole neighborhood is a front!

  32. 32
    james9999

    I found David Abel’s blog:

    http://davidlabel.blogspot.com/

    It has ONE post and its title is “Peer-Reviewed Publications of David L. Abel” : http://davidlabel.blogspot.com/2012/01/peer-reviewed-publications-of-david-l_03.html

    This is really weird:

    1) He INDIVIDUALLY lists each chapter of his self-published book as a separate publication.

    2) He fails to list any degree in his biography and despite being 65+ his publication record starts in 2000.

  33. 33
    Ing

    1) He INDIVIDUALLY lists each chapter of his self-published book as a separate publication.

    XD

    Oh glob, PZ you have to start counting your publications by blog posts made!

  34. 34
    Glen Davidson

    More bad science in the literature

    Wouldn’t “non-science” be more appropriate?

    Semantics, I know, and one could call it “bad science” rather than “pseudoscience” or “non-science.” I would argue that the latter two are more appropriate, however.

    It’s really sucky apologetics, after all.

    Glen Davidson

  35. 35
    james9999

    I’ve been reading his papers, and its bad, boring nonsense.For one, he repeats himself in near identitical language:

    David L. Abel, “The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity,” Int. Joun. of Moc. Sciences, 2009:

    “Formalism cannot be reduced to mathematics alone.
    Formalism also includes language constructions, the symbol
    and sign systems of semiosis, decision theory, non mathematical
    logic theory, computer science, the larger field of
    cybernetics (the study of control), and many other fields that
    depend upon choice contingency rather than chance contingency
    or necessity.”

    From David L. Abel, “Is Life Unique?,” Life, 2011:

    “The problem of formalism includes the measurement problem not only in quantum physics, but in Newtonian physics as well. As physicist Howard Pattee has pointed out in many publications, the measurements of initial conditions used in the laws of physics are formal representations (mathematical symbols) of physicality, not physicality itself [113]. The same is true of the laws of physics themselves.”

    Okay, here’s my favorite quote. In “Constraints vs Controls,” The Open Cybernetics & Systemics Journal, 2010, David L. Abel writes “materialism is faith” and a “self-contradiction”:

    “One cannot even argue for a purely materialistic perspective without violating materialism’s most fundamental premise. The defense of materialism is itself abstract, conceptual, choice-contingent, formal and non physical. Materialism/Naturalism is a metaphysical faith system. It is not only a philosophic formalism, but it is an exercise in self-contradiction.”

    For some reason, this ONE article is listed 19 DIFFERENT TIMES on his list of publications.

  36. 36
    mudpuddles

    How the hell did Michael Rea’s horsecrap get published by Oxford University Press?! That book makes the gyro-woo paper in Life look eloquent by comparison. I thought OUP didn’t just publish any old drivel.

    (gyro-woo: a model which describes a quantum of mind-boggling nonsense, based on the origin and end points of the head-spin effect it causes. For examples, see: Chopra, D (anything).)

  37. 37
    markr1957

    I was quite astonished at how often “Dr” Abel self-references in his work. He claims to be a theoretical biologist, which may explain his use of strange new words. I couldn’t find anything to say where he got his “Doctorate” (maybe from the same place as “Dr Hovind?)’ but I also couldn’t see much evidence of any scientific education in the drivel he writes either

  38. 38
    mudpuddles

    Life pursues thousands of biofunctional goals, not the least of which is staying alive.

    Eh? So… life… lives? Am I right? Or is it an obscure BeeGees reference?

  39. 39
    bcwebb

    David L. Abel DVM,DABVP Wheaton Animal Hospital, Inc. 2929 University Boulevard,West Kensington, MD 20895

    he’s a (retired) veterinarian.

  40. 40
    Marcus Ranum

    When the Origin of Life Science Foundation refers to “in-house review,” they mean exactly that.

    And when they send it “out for review” that probably means it’s acting as absorbent on the floor of the doghouse. Excuse me “canine collodial colloquium cavern”

  41. 41
    Marcus Ranum

    “One cannot even argue for a purely materialistic perspective without violating materialism’s most fundamental premise. The defense of materialism is itself abstract, conceptual, choice-contingent, formal and non physical. Materialism/Naturalism is a metaphysical faith system. It is not only a philosophic formalism, but it is an exercise in self-contradiction.”

    Maybe he’s actually one of us, who’s decided to sokal the ID movement to make them look stupid. Urrr, stupider.

    That’s the philosophical formalism constraint that the ID movement exercises its sense of self-contradiction over: in order to be an ID proponentist one must adopt slanted semiotics – thus making a decision tree impossible between conceptual self-aware slanted semiotics and designed slanted semiotics. In layman’s terms what that means is: you already know you’re dealing with a liar but how can you tell what they are lying about?

  42. 42
    The Magnificent Walrus

    As evidence for the Sokal hypothesis, I would note that one of Mr. Abel’s papers was published in Semiotica, which is a journal of…semiotics.

  43. 43
    chrislawson

    And since when does an encyclopaedia entry count as peer-reviewed, especially an encyclopaedia that includes four Discovery Institute people as contributors?

  44. 44
    John Morales

    james9999 quotes L. Abel thus:

    “Formalism cannot be reduced to mathematics alone.
    Formalism also includes language constructions, the symbol
    and sign systems of semiosis, decision theory, non mathematical
    logic theory, computer science, the larger field of
    cybernetics (the study of control), and many other fields that
    depend upon choice contingency rather than chance contingency
    or necessity.”

    Condensing:
    Mathematics alone can compute chance contingency but not choice contingency, therefore formalism cannot be reduced to mathematics alone.

    Uh-huh.

    (Counter-intuitive, to say the least)

  45. 45
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Life manifests [...] prevention and correction of its own errors

    With some exceptions.

  46. 46
    =8)-DX

    Chance and necessity—heat agitation and the cause-and-effect determinism of nature’s orderliness—cannot spawn formalisms such as mathematics, language, symbol systems, coding, decoding, logic, organization

    What got my bullshit detector ringing loudest was the use of the word “spawn”. Seriously?

  47. 47
    Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

    he’s a (retired) veterinarian.

    Experience with ungulate effluent, maybe?

  48. 48
    concernedjoe

    From the WABI Christian Radio wire:

    In further news, David L. Abel, esteemed retired DVM, appearing on our ‘Topics in Science’ earlier this evening, said that he has definitively discovered that what we call cognition is a very very complicated phenomena. He added ‘this will rock the World of Science and put the final nail in Darwin’s coffin once and for all’. To that we say Amen.

    He is in the process of formally publishing his finding in many prestigious journals but already several have released his work by expediting the review process; it is obviously that monumentally important of a revelation.

    He rightly said ‘The Darwinist scientists thus far have assumed that the formalism associated with cognition is something that any random shaking of the box of life’s materials could achieve.’

    He added ‘My paper rigorously reveals that that is completely and utterly false. Why clearly on this revelation alone one has no alternative but to accept the Theory of Intelligent Design and abandon the fallacious and useless Theory of Evolution.’ The studio audience burst into loud applause further substantiating his points.

    In closing he said ‘We see already that scientists around the World are abuzz about my revelations. We can only hope and pray they are honest enough to jump on the bandwagon of Truth.’

    I would not bet my fictionally written vignette is much off the reality of that Bizzaro World.

  49. 49
    Synfandel

    Whenever I read something like that abstract, I ‘hear’ it in Graham Chapman’s voice. Is there something wrong with me?

    It should end with, “Stop it! All right, we’ll have no more of this silliness.”

  50. 50
    marknebo

    I used to live on Hedgewood! Wow! Thats wild. it is prety close to Goddard Space Center… not that that matters.

    Pretty cool to read this and see the address.

  51. 51
    interrobang

    *scratches head* Semiotics is more or less my thing, and I’m really confused by all of this. His argument, at least from a semiotics perspective, seems to be “I can see organised signs and/or symbols in biological processes, therefore design.” That’s ridiculous, because formalisms and semiotics aren’t innate, they’re systems imposed by human beings in order to apprehend and interpret the world. If you can say that the components of semiotics “exist,” which is more or less getting into a philosophical debate over the nature of existence, they exist as emergent properties of human beings, human cognition, and human culture. So to posit a sort of Platonic-ideal semiotics, therefore Jeebus, is putting the cart before the horse — three or four miles before the horse.

  52. 52
    Jerry

    Dr. Abel’s book on Amazon has another review, this time from a published scientist, and not for 5 stars. Maybe there are other scientists who read Pharyngula & have access to this book who would like to review it.

  53. 53
    LykeX

    This is one of those cases where I’m having trouble arguing against him because I quite frankly don’t have a clue what he’s saying. Can anyone tell if this makes sense, perhaps from some technical perspective that I’m unfamiliar with?

  54. 54
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    This is one of those cases where I’m having trouble arguing against him because I quite frankly don’t have a clue what he’s saying. Can anyone tell if this makes sense, perhaps from some technical perspective that I’m unfamiliar with?

    I’ve just had an epiphany!

    He’s trying to ‘blind us with science’, as it were. The problem is, he finds most science to be absolutely bewildering, so he can’t tell the difference between ‘blinding with science’ and ‘bewildering with nonsense’!

    Holy crap I think I just explained the whole ID movement!

  55. 55
    RFW

    That word “gyres” rings a bell. Didn’t somebody at some time long ago, maybe even in classical times, propose that everything was composed of vortices?

    My memory’s not a sharp as it once was, but I’m sure I’ve crossed paths with such a concept.

    Abel’s gyres smell like an old idea refurbished with knobs on.

  56. 56
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Jeez, David. At least get a P.O. Box.

  57. 57
    lijdare

    Just to be fair the house is at 113 Hedgewood Drive, Greenbelt, MD, which is across the street and down to the west 4 or 5 houses. It’s a 1.5 bathroom home has 1110 square feet and was built in 1965. 120 Hedgewood Drive, Greenbelt MD is a 2.5 bathroom home has 1678 square feet and was built in 1965.

    The phone number for 113 Hedgewood Drive is (301)441-2923. Origin Of Life Foundation in Greenbelt, MD is a private company categorized under Educational Cooperative Organizations. Our records show it was established in 1997 and incorporated in Maryland. Manta [http://www.manta.com/g/mmf52zs/morris-hedge] estimates show this company has an annual revenue of $9,813 and employs a staff of 2 (Morris Hedge, President).

  58. 58
    JesseW, the Juggling Janitor

    I made a list of all the “journals” that Mr. Abel has managed to get into, along with their contact information, here as a comment. It may be of use.

  59. 59
    carbonbasedlifeform

    That word “gyres” rings a bell. Didn’t somebody at some time long ago, maybe even in classical times, propose that everything was composed of vortices? My memory’s not a sharp as it once was, but I’m sure I’ve crossed paths with such a concept.

    I believe that Lawsonomy teaches that.

  60. 60
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Argument by bafflegab? They are assuming their conclusion.

  61. 61
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Actually, I think Mr. Abel may have invented a new logical fallacy: authority by proximity: he’s more credible because he’s just down the street from a totally unrelated scientific institution.

  62. 62
    wilson

    The life journal mystery doesn’t end with the “Is Life Unique” article which I agree is intelligent design creationism crap. Read on! The following three articles may well be characterized as neo-darwinistic evolutionism crap.
    Is this a coincidence? The creationist will say there’s got to be intelligence behind. The evolutionist will insist that it is pure chance. I say maybe someone is trying to make the point that it is all BS: intelligent design theory as well as all the theories of evolution that the world has seen since 1859.

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