Thursday, February 22, 2007

The playing field is still not level

One of my first battles on Panda's Thumb was over the "level playing field" concept. The claim on PT, which I disputed, was that submissions from ID researchers (a species not unlike unicorns) would receive unbiased consideration from journal editors.

In some way I have changed my position—I believe a real research paper from an ID proponent that presented a way to test an ID prediction would get a fair hearing—even favored treatment. I would bet the farm that if Dembski ever presented a real ID research paper—one that made a testable claim, he could easily get it published in the journal of his choice. Alas, proof by vestigial running-board doesn't cut it.

It is the other end of the spectrum where the playing field is demonstrably not level. Secular "scientists" can get crazy "research" published, while ID, um, researchers cannot get fair treatment for their own untestable speculations.

Case in point. Consider this abstract:

A model consistent with string theory is proposed for so-called paranormal phenomena such as extra-sensory perception (ESP). Our mathematical skills are assumed to derive from a special 'mental vacuum state', whose origin is explained on the basis of anthropic and biological arguments, taking into account the need for the informational processes associated with such a state to be of a life-supporting character. ESP is then explained in terms of shared 'thought bubbles' generated by the participants out of the mental vacuum state. The paper concludes with a critique of arguments sometimes made claiming to 'rule out' the possible existence of paranormal phenomena.

The author, it pains me to report, is the Nobel Laureate physicist Brian David Josephson. Here is his home page. Here is his wiki page.

From his home page:

Welcome to the home page of Professor Brian Josephson, director of the Mind-Matter Unification Project of the Theory of Condensed Matter Group at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, a project concerned primarily with the attempt to understand, from the viewpoint of the theoretical physicist, what may loosely be characterised as intelligent processes in nature, associated with brain function or with some other natural process.

And from another writing:

Quantum theory is now being fruitfully combined with theories of information and computation. These developments may lead to an explanation of processes still not understood within conventional science such as telepathy, an area where Britain is at the forefront of research.

The playing field should be leveled. Continue to decline any unscientific ID submissions—but let's apply the same standard across the board.

Uncommon Descent has descended even further—remarkable given they had already jumped the shark with their now-infamous foray into bathroom humor. They have managed to enter a new era, one dominated by discussions of global warming, speculative cancer treatments (complete with the attendant conspiracy theories) and proof by assertion, where the assertion is a youtube video.

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