More thoughts about the work of Dembski and Marks

January 4, 2010

More thoughts about Dembski and Marks’ project:

Questionable military research on gauge invariance

December 30, 2009

Checking for new eprints, three papers by P. J. Cote and M. A. Johnson caught my attention: (A) New perspectives on classical electromagnetism (arXiv:0903.4104v2), (B) On the peculiarity of the Coulomb gauge (arXiv:0906.4752v1), (C) Groupthink and the blunder of the gauges (arXiv:0912.2977v1). The main point of these papers seems to be that the exploitation of gauge freedom in electromagnetism is questionable. Specific objections are raised to steps in standard derivations using Lorentz and Coulomb gauges. For example, the title of paper B refers to the non-locality of potentials in the Coulomb gauge and some remarks on the matter quoted from J. D. Jackson’s classic textbook.

The papers themselves border on crankery, which is a bit alarming since the authors are affiliated with the army, but are at least wrong in instructive ways. Electromagnetism is manifestly gauge invariant and there are no genuine causality problems in the Coulomb gauge since the non-local potentials are not physically meaningful quantities in and of themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

A priori bias in the Dembski-Marks representation

September 8, 2009

Dembski and Marks (2009b) recently published a minimalistic (and simplistic) representation of a search problem consisting of a search space \Omega and a distinguished target set T \subset \Omega (blogger reactions: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7). From the discussion in the paper and two other articles it is clear that the authors’ object of study is related to, though not equivalent to, the issues raised by Wolpert and Macready’s No Free Lunch theorems. Despite its minimalistic character, the Dembski-Marks representation is not less restrictive than the Wolpert-Macready representation of a search/optimization problem. The Dembski-Marks representation, i.e., a distinguished target in a search space, can easily be introduced as an extra feature in the Wolpert-Macready representation. However, it is not possible to introduce the full Wolpert-Macready representation within the Dembski-Marks representation. Indeed, the absence of a constant, distinguished target set is a prerequisite for all No Free Lunch theorems. It is therefore interesting to estimate how much of a restriction it is to make the Wolpert-Macready representation conform to the Dembski-Marks representation. Read the rest of this entry »

Dembski and Marks publish trivial ID paper

August 19, 2009

Pseudoscientists in the Intelligent Design (ID) movement have long desired a track record of ID-related publications in peer-reviewed journals. Now Dembski and Marks are touting a new publication as a step in this direction. Reading the paper will be a disappointment to everyone who had hoped for any non-trivial results. The three things offered are: Read the rest of this entry »

Global warming contrarians gain new ally

July 31, 2009

I’ve been meaning to write a little note on a talk by Naomi Oreskes, available on YouTube, ever since it came to my attention via the comments on a blog (probably The Intersection or Pharyngula, though I regrettably don’t remember). Now the perfect excuse to do so has come up.

Two recent posts (one, two) at The Panda’s Thumb discuss contrarian views regarding global warming. The most interesting aspect is not the details of those views. No, the most interesting aspect is the person who holds those views: the intelligent design creationist William Dembski. Read the rest of this entry »