Part two of his masturbation session is up; it makes me a little queasy, so I’m not going to link to it directly, but you can get to it via Stranger Fruit. This one begins with The Pompous One redefining science (these guys know ID doesn’t meet the standards of science, so their strategy is to redefine everything else, to lower it far enough that they can clear the bar. In other words, they’re digging a very deep hole) to exclude biology and to make mathematics the One True Science.

And then it gets worse.

Torris says

Wow! He really goes at it.

elspi says

Mathematics is not a science at all (ask ANY mathematician if you don’t believe me). Thus we know he is wrong without reading any further.

aloysius says

I’d like to apologise on behalf of mathematicians everywhere for mendacious blowhards like Berlinski and Dembski. The vast majority of us do come up for air and pull our heads out of our own sphincters from time to time.

Glen Davidson says

It looks like the usual ID tactic: write such astonishingly inane and ignorant BS that it leaves the critics speechless, unable to mount a coherent counterattack.

Then claim victory, hoping that enough people will miss the fact that no coherent counterattack is possible because no coherence or sense exists within the IDist’s writings.

I guess we’d better forget Galileo and all later physicists. Berlinski knows that Pythagoras was right all along (never mind that he incoherently values physics while trashing the empiricism that made physics meaningful). Just go to any old European cathedral, and not only will its beauty and awesomeness take your breath away, the numbers and forms within it will tell you all that you need to know about the universe and science.

Or in other words, once one has shrunken all intellectual endeavors down to one’s own specialty, one begins the wonderful challenge of being God, knowing all. Why pay attention to mortal biologists who are not, pity their little souls,

, when one has achieved the status of the Aristotelian God, contemplating the most important thing of all, himself?mathematiciansGlen D

http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Jianying says

To me math has always been a meta-discipline that takes the set of axioms onto the set of theorems. In applied math, math is mapped to reality thru model.The ID people apparently want to reverse the arrow of implication, so that when their model or axioms doesn’t match reality, they blame reality, instead of their model or their axioms. They pretend that there is a one true model or set of axiom. Mathematics cares only for consistency, not the axioms or theorems themselves.(humans cares for axioms or theorems, mathematics don’t)

Pete says

… No doubt …Ithika says

This may be an obvious statement to make, but it seems the only thing relevant:

is he on crack?Right, now that’s out of the way — did anyone determine any coherent thoughts in that… collection, or was it all just witless verbiage? I’m afraid my brain shut down long before I got to the end.

I did notice that he seemed to agree with his “interviewer” that he was a crank, though. The first step to a cure is recognising you have a problem — although I think this guy’s problems go deeper than a lack of understanding of biology!

James says

“The physicists defer only to mathematicians, and the mathematicians defer only to God (though you may be hard pressed to find a mathematician that modest).”

Arguably mathematics is not a science at all, dealing as it does with abstract rather than physical objects.

Great White Wonder says

I think Berlinski is trying to reclaim the term “crank” and remove it from the status of epithet.

Sort of like what gays did with the term “queer.”

Some genius at the Discovery Institute probably figured, “Hey, let’s start spreading the meme that being a crank is nothing to be ashamed of! We’re PROUD of being cranks! The crank lifestyle is not better or worse than Mr. Jones’ lifestyle — it’s just different.”

windy says

Wow! Science is also “a collection of cathedrals on a fruited plane” where “no one cathedral is built on top of each other”.

What’s mathematics, then? Is it a cathedral? Is it the plane? No, it’s Superman!

Ithika says

It all seems a bit bazaar to me…

Tommaso Zillio says

General relarivity IS a generalization/extension of newton’s mechanics.

But, obviously, the fact that general relativity can generate the newtonian mechanics when speeds are much slower than the speed of light and gravitational field are not overwhelmingly big, means nothing to him.

As a physicist that now works in biology I feel also touched in a soft spot: sure, biology is not a “hard” science. Still. Mr.Berlinski, instead of vomiting out some vague and easy critics, why don’t you come here in the field, put your hand in the dirt and help us mathematicize biology (or biologize mathematics…)? Why don’t you do some REAL work? I am sure that 150 years ago Mr.Berlinski would have written something like: “the theory of heat is not mathematicized enough to be worth of consideration”. Luckily, some people thought that it was worth, and now we have thermodynamics…

Carlie says

Did he mean “fruited plane” or “fruited plain” or was he actually coherent enough that he was trying to make a pun? I’m so confused. Now I won’t be able to get America the Beautiful out of my head for awhile. He sounds very much like a drunk sitting at a bar at 1 am who suddenly announces his profound thoughts.

idlemind says

“Cathedrals on a fruited [plain]??” I think he just punched through the lame analogy barrier into dithering nonsense.

Christian says

After reading both parts of Berlinski’s DSM III inspired self interview, all I can say is: “Damn”

I may not be the highest wattage bulb in the pack, but at least I can tell when a bulb is dimmer than mine. There is so much obfuscation for the sake of not proving a point that this was painful to read.

Irony meters my ass, this thing blows “vacuous pomposity” meters off the scale. With the resulting shrapnel effects to poor bystanders.

Christian says

Carlie,

Unfortunately, I too often post the drunkards post, at 1 am or so, with some supposedly profound thought. But, at least I don’t expect to be taken as seriously as Mr. B does.

Unfortunately, the mass stupidity of the ID crowd drives me to drink. It is just too reminiscent of certain folks that I have to deal with at work, who also drive me to drink. These are the folks who assume that since they cannot possibly be clueless buggers, that the problem lies outside of their department. Unfortunately, my digging through past profitability history and assigning appropriate costs to their “great product ideas” meets with profound lack of understanding. Or, if not lack of understanding, refusal to believe the data tied to their ideas.

OK, time for another beer.

S. C. Hartman says

Another mathematicianthank god the unsufferable ones are rareis a certain Marcel-Paul Schutzenberger, who conributed a chapter in Dembski’s book “Uncommon Descent”. Although he admits that biology is not his speciality, that evidently does not mean that there is a biologist out there who understands it better than he does. He starts of by declaring that Darwinism “accommodates two mutually contradictory schools”: gradualism and saltationism. Dawkins is a gradualist and Gould is a saltationist. While that is not a very reassuring start, it goes downhill from there on as he proceeds to sarcastically disparage Stuart Kaufman, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Dawkins, Francis Crick, and Francois Jacob with great relish. These blowhards are almost fun to read. Almost.

Dustin says

Dembski is not a mathematician. Rather, he is a guy with a large mouth and a modest degree of mathematical aptitude. After he pulled a tour of postdocs, he couldn’t get a job, and headed for the Discovery Institute. Dembski is usually roundly criticized by real mathematicians. I can find tenured professors from 2-man math departments with a publication record 10 times as long as Dembski’s. So, like, don’t fault mathematicians for Dembski’s pompous stupidity.

Berlinski has published one or two articles of use (but those were on the philosophy of mathematics). His fanboys keep crediting him with “books on calculus and differential topology”, and I’ve read both of them. They’re both for simple-asses, and neither one comes even close to qualifying as a textbook. Berlinski is not a mathematician either.

So, really, don’t take Berlinski or Dembski as indicative of the general sentiment of mathematicians out there. That would be like classifying David Guest or any of those other dialectic materialists as mathematicians. Actually, a good number of biology departments are recruiting math students into their ranks and, being the rigorous folk that we are, most of us do not, in fact, store our heads in our asses.

But, because I can’t resist the temptation:

-Adolphe QueteletI’m prone to agree with that, and it’s considerably more mature than “OMG MATH IS TEH ONE TRUE SCIENCE!!!”.

Dustin says

See? That’s how you know these guys are off their rockers! Any

realmathematician would be tickled pink at the chance to meet Murray Gell-Mann. If one were so inclined to berate Gell-Mann, he’d probably just keep it to himself, asrealmathematicians know that Gell-Mann is friggingsmart. Feynman lost many an argument with Gell-Mann.Caledonian says

Nonsense like this causes people who don’t have extensive practice in thinking to have short circuits in their minds.

That pretty much sums up the Fundamentalist strategy, doesn’t it?

G. Tingey says

Bullshit baffles brains?

Enough bullshit, heaped high enough will drown (?) the voices of reason?

Pure religious rhetoric at work – and Socrates told what to do with rhetoric …..

MikeHol says

It boggles the mind to wonder how stupid he must imagine his audience to be in order to be impressed with anything he said.

darukaru says

No matter how many parentheses and ‘x’s they throw at it, they can’t disguise the essential nature of ID as a crock of shit.

Dan says

I think Math is a tool of science. X-ray and MRI imaging are tools of medicine. You have people who study these disciplines and make them better but don’t confuse these people with doctors of medicine. You wouldn’t consult them if you were sick. Calculus was invented by Newton to help explain physics, not the other way around. I think it is one of the language of science. It makes communication and prediction so much easier.

That being said, science, as we know it, wouldn’t be here without math. That don’t make it science.

Dustin says

Then what physical phenomenon, pray tell, was Galois theory created to explain? Or representation theory?

Mike says

Thinking that amenability to the use of mathematics gives a science some special cachet is like thinking the drunkard

is being sensible looking for his keys where the light is best.

Not that I have anything against math. I’ve been spending plenty of money at http://www.bathsheba.com lately.

Jonathan Badger says

Math is a tool. But sometimes people get obsessed with tools themselves. I know a friend who has a basement full of powertools. Fancy jigsaws, lathes, and all sorts of things I only vaguely recognize from high school woodshop. He seems to enjoy just having them, I suppose, because he doesn’t seem to make any furniture or anything as far as I can tell. Some mathematicians are like him, I guess. I have to wonder what they write on their grant proposals, though. Do they leave the “Broader Implications of Research” section blank?

Dustin says

If math is a tool, then you are suggesting not that SOME mathematicians are like your friend, but that ALL mathematicians are like your friend, since doing mathematics is the whole of a mathematician’s job.

That mathematics CAN be used as a tool is incidental. Biology can be used as a tool in medicine, but it is not a tool.

Jonathan Badger says

Well, there are mathematicians who are interested in solving practical problems. At least some of the time. Even G.H. Hardy, who wrote the famous “apology” for pure mathematics, was not entirely devoid of a practical side — he is the Hardy in the genetics concept of Hardy-Weinberg equilibria.

Many biologists in the US apply for grants from the National Institutes of Health. Most of them aren’t “biomedical scientists”, but they still have to come up with *some* medical justification (however tenuous) for their research. After all, the public is footing the bill.

Dustin says

I don’t doubt that’s true, but they certainly don’t have to give medical justification when doing biology for biology’s sake, and biology’s use in support of other studies doesn’t diminish biology’s status as a study in its own right.

It’s the same with mathematics. Pure mathematics is not a tool, it is rather the art of thinking in a way that is both abstract and quantitative at the same time, making conjectures in that framework, proving them, and then putting everything to paper. Because the goal in pure mathematics is to make concepts as general as possible while retaining the ability to say something meaningful and precise about these abstract objects, it isn’t any wonder that mathematics is able to find a wide variety of uses. Those uses have, lately, almost always been found long after the mathematical theory has been developed. Someone pointed out that Newton developed calculus to aid in physics, and it sometimes progesses that way. More often, it’s the other way around. The ball started rolling on Lie Groups and Lie Algebras more than a century before they found a use in mathematical physics. Functional analysis predates its use in quantum field theory, and Riemann’s geometry predates general relativity. Galois theory was designed to study algebraic extensions of fields, and was a purely mathematical theory until it found use in error correcting codes 130 years after its inception.

The point is, mathematics is sometimes motivated by a scientific application, but the broad range of mathematical topics which predate, sometimes by more than a century, their applications shows that it is more often than not a study done for its own sake. It is not a tool. As for the ancillary benefits of mathematics listed on grant proposals, in the case of pure mathematics, they’re usually listed as benefits to other established areas of mathematics. In the case of applied mathematics, the topic is generally either an immediate application or a method designed to aid already applied mathematics (and in either such case, the benefit is so specific and immediately obvious that any secondary justifications will sound forced and superfluous).

Emanuel Goldstein says

Math is a tool.

So is the scientific method.

Both allow us to gain knowledge, although mathematics is not science.

I appreciate the admission above that there are other ways of gaining knowledge than through science, something that seems to be lost on atheist fanatics.

Keith Douglas says

Not all mathematics is quantitative, though (geometry, topology, logic, even set theory is not exactly quantitative). I prefer to describe mathematics as being the study of form in general without regards to what is formed. (This is why it is useful to describe anything in principle.)

Michael Geissler says

Enlighten us, Mr “Goldstein” – what are these “other ways of gaining knowledge than through science” of which you speak? Second-hand revelation? Late night drinking sessions? National Inquirer? This atheist fanatic would like to know.