Evolutionary Informatics Lab

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The Evolutionary Informatics Lab is a cyberspace entity created in 2007 by Baylor University professor Robert J. Marks II conducting research on mathematical details of evolutionary computation and purported to underlie intelligent design[1] It defines evolutionary informatics and serves as a showcase for those researchers' writings.

Marks first created a website for the lab on a Baylor server. Controversy ensued when the University deleted the site for linking the University to private research. Baylor's action is represented as persecution of ID advocates in a 2008 documentary film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. The site now resides on a third-party server.[2]

History of the website[edit]

In June 2007,[3] Marks created a website for the lab on a server owned by Baylor University. The university deleted the site in July of that year.[4][5] The site now resides on a third-party server.

The declared purpose of the Evolutionary Informatics Lab is as follows.

"Evolutionary informatics merges theories of evolution and information, thereby wedding the natural, engineering, and mathematical sciences. Evolutionary informatics studies how evolving systems incorporate, transform, and export information. The Evolutionary Informatics Laboratory explores the conceptual foundations, mathematical development, and empirical application of evolutionary informatics. The principal theme of the lab’s research is teasing apart the respective roles of internally generated and externally applied information in the performance of evolutionary systems."

Affiliates[edit]

As of February 18, 2012, The Evolutionary Informatics Lab involves the following senior researchers:[6]

Support staff includes research assistant Winston Ewert.

Basener, Dembski, Marks, and Sewell are signatories of the pro-ID Discovery Institute's A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.[8]

Controversy[edit]

Baylor's removal of the website[edit]

Marks did not seek permission from Baylor University to form the lab, but created a website for it on a server owned by the university. The website was deleted when Baylor's administration determined that it violated university policy forbidding professors from creating the impression that their personal views represent Baylor as an institution. Baylor said they would permit Marks to repost his website on their server, provided a disclaimer accompany any intelligent design-advancing research to make clear that the work does not represent the university's position.[9][10][11] The site now resides on a third-party server and still contains the material advancing intelligent design.

After removing the site, the Baylor administration stated that it contained "unapproved research"[12] and that university policy forbids professors from creating the impression that their personal views represent Baylor as an institution.[13] Baylor has said that it will permit Marks to repost his website on its server, provided he (1) delete any reference to a "Lab," (2) delete listing of any Baylor graduate students, and (3) post at the bottom of every page and the top of the home page a 108-word disclaimer.[10][11][14]

Dembski, Marks, and Baylor[edit]

William Dembski had been employed by Baylor twice prior to the establishment of the lab, and the website made available technical papers coauthored by him and Marks.[15] Dembski was embroiled in controversy in 2000 as the director of Baylor's short-lived Michael Polanyi Center, which promoted intelligent design. In 2006, Dembski was briefly employed by Marks as a research assistant, despite the fact that he was a professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. That stint as a Baylor employee came to an end when the university rejected the $30,000 grant from the Lifeworks Foundation that provided his salary. In a well sourced article at "The Panda's Thumb," a weblog opposing intelligent design, Andrea Bottaro links the Lifeworks Foundation to the Discovery Institute, a think tank advocating intelligent design.[16]

"Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" coverage[edit]

Baylor's removal of the website is addressed in the 2008 film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.[17] The main thesis of the film is that academia and the scientific establishment discriminate against intelligent design advocates.[18] It includes interview footage with Marks and Dembski.[17]

Technical Papers[edit]

As of February 2012, the lab's website offers seven major peer reviewed papers by Dembski, Marks, and Winston Ewert. These papers emphasize the concept of active information in the context of search for solutions to problems. The notion is developed fully in "Conservation of Information in Search: Measuring the Cost of Success." [19]

A second paper,"Evolutionary Synthesis of Nand Logic: Dissecting a Digital Organism, [20] is an analysis of the evolution simulation Avida and purports to uncover the sources of active information in the program. A third paper [21] is a preamble of the "Cost of Success" paper.

As of February 2012, another forty-nine publications by participating authors are listed under Other Publications.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Most of these critics are responding to my book No Free Lunch. As I explained in the preface of that book, its aim was to provide enough technical details so that experts could fill in details, but enough exposition so that the general reader could grasp the essence of my project. The book seems to have succeeded with the general reader and with some experts, though mainly with those who were already well-disposed toward ID. In any case, it became clear after that publication of that book that I would need to fill in the mathematical details myself, something I have been doing right along (see my articles described under “mathematical foundations of intelligent design” at www.designinference.com) and which has now been taken up in earnest in a collaboration with my friend and Baylor colleague Robert Marks at his Evolutionary Informatics Lab (www.EvoInfo.org)." — An Interview with Dr. William A. Dembski (Updated)
  2. ^ The Evolutionary Informatics Lab website
  3. ^ An Interview with Dr. William A. Dembski (Updated)
  4. ^ Web site sparks new intelligent design battle at BU, Waco Tribune-Herald
  5. ^ Baylor forces professor to shut down site, The Daily Orange
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ Uncommon Descent: About
  8. ^ A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism
  9. ^ William Dembski Addresses Forthcoming Intelligent Design Research that Advances ID and Answers Critics, Evolution News & Views, Discovery Institute
  10. ^ a b Crisis averted, Mark Bergin, World Magazine
  11. ^ a b Baylor U. Removes a Web Page Associated With Intelligent Design From Its Site by Elizabeth F. Farrell. Chronicle of Higher Education, Sept. 4, 2007. onlinesubscription access
  12. ^ New intelligent design conflict hits BU, Claire St. Amant, Baylor Lariat, September 11, 2007
  13. ^ Baylor U. Removes a Web Page Associated With Intelligent Design From Its Site, Elizabeth F. Farrell, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 6, 2007.
  14. ^ WORLD Magazine | Today's News, Christian Views
  15. ^ Grace Maalouf and Brad Briggs "BU had role in Dembski return," Baylor Lariat, Nov. 16, 2007 [2]
  16. ^ "Follow the money: more Dembski/Baylor-related mischief?" September 7, 2007 [3]
  17. ^ a b Jerry Pierce, "Baptist professors featured in new film," Southern Baptist Texan (January 28, 2008)
  18. ^ Lesley Burbridge-Bates (2007-08-22). "Expelled Press Release" (PDF). Premise Media. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  19. ^ 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 A, Systems and Humans, vol.39, #5, September 2009, pp.1051-1061 [4]
  20. ^ Winston Ewert, William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II, "Evolutionary Synthesis of Nand Logic: Dissecting a Digital Organism, Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics. San Antonio, TX, USA - October 2009, pp. 3047-3053. [5]
  21. ^ 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. San Antonio, TX, USA - October 2009, pp. 2647-2652. [6]

External links[edit]