A few more words about a creationist's Review of WIDF Anthology
By Mark Perakh
On February 19, 2009 Dr. Ian Musgrave posted to the Panda's Thumb blog a brief rebuttal (see http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2009/02/it-would-help-i.html) to Angus Menuge's supposed "review" of the anthology Why Intelligent Design Fails (Rutgers Univ. Press 2004, edited by Matt Young and Taner Edis; usually abbreviated as WIDF). Menuge’s review was published in the September 2008 issue of a little known journal Politics and the Life Sciences.
Ian Musgrave replied only to Menuge's treatment of Ian's own chapter in the anthology, showing that Menuge's review of that chapter was a chunk of piffle. I fully agree with Ian's opinion, and may add that the same can be said about Menuge's treatment of every other chapter in the anthology. His "review" of chapter 11, of which I was the author, is a good example.(The text of my chapter is available online -- see http://www.talkreason.org/articles/Chap11.pdf).
I know next to nothing about Angus Menuge but his review of my chapter betrays his ignorance of the subject discussed in my chapter. In that chapter I demonstrated Dembski's misinterpretation of the No Free Lunch (NFL) theorems by Wolpert & MacReady. Dembski's thesis boiled down to the assertion that the NFL theorems prohibit evolution, which, therefore, is impossible. Of course, the NFL theorems do nothing of the sort, and Dembski displayed an impressive, for a mathematician, lack of understanding of the matter (impressive by its obvious fallacies, but not surprising, as Dembski's incompetence often displayed even in his own area of specialization is a common knowledge -- see for example http://www.talkreason.org/articles/stillbad.cfm).
And what has Menuge found worth rebutting in my chapter? In his review there is not a single word regarding the main points of my chapter. Instead, he found there a single statement worth (in his view) discussing, which is a secondary point, in no way crucial for my argument. Even about that statement he could not say anything of substance.
In that statement I claimed that the question of natural evolutionary algorithms being capable of climbing up the naturally occurring fitness landscapes belongs in the discussion of anthropic coincidences. Referring to my statement, Menuge wrote that I "admit" (rather than "state") my notion. By this seemingly innocent substitution of "admit" for "state" Menuge apparently tried to create the impression that my own statement somehow negated my main thesis about Dembski's misuse of the NFL theorems.
In fact I had nothing to "admit." It must be clear to any reader of an average intelligence that my notion about anthropic coincidences in no way contradicted my critique of Dembski's fallacious discourse. It looks like Menuge just could not come up with any reasonable rebuttal of my chapter, so he resorted to an irrelevant and meaningless comment about a secondary point, while avoiding discussion of the gist of my chapter. Quite likely, he may have had no choice because of being not versed in the subject.
In view of the above, Menuge's conclusion in his review that the arguments in the WIDF anthology are "not so fatal" for ID as the authors of the anthology claimed, is nothing more than the usual for ID advocates attempt to present their dreams as reality.