Talk:William A. Dembski

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  1. Feb 2005 – Feb 2006
  2. Feb 2006 – April 2007
  3. May 2007 – present

Reversion Except for New Citation[edit]

I left the new citation added by WLU, but reverted the rest, pending further consideration one item at a time. The wording deleted by WLU was not "extraneous." It was corrective based on the existing citations. As one example, the paragraph regarding a “sense of purpose” under Science vs. naturalism completely misses the point of the citation. The purpose under discussion is the concept that the universe is purposeful, not that people need a sense of purpose. If you see changes that are needed, WLU, please revisit these edits one at a time so they can be considered individually. Thanks. Scoopczar (talk) 04:44, 15 July 2010 (UTC)

That goes both ways - I carefully retained edits to faith healing because I believe they were improvements; your edit eliminated incremental improvements to spacing of sources and statements.
A problem with the "purpose" quote is that it states "the science backs you up" - when it clearly doesn't. I don't think a quotation is necessary here (particularly a lengthy one and particularly with the {{quotation}} template when there are already two in the section), and have replaced it with a summary. I actually rewrote the section a fair bit, there's too many quotes. I'm also not clear on how this paragraph links to the rest of the section. WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 10:55, 15 July 2010 (UTC)

Note that the following is a copy-and-paste taken from the page, this version, not my own wording. I'm not sure why it's here, and was surprised to see it was my own edit! WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 11:54, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

He has called for mainstream scientists to debate ID proponents in public forums by what he described as a 'vise strategy' in which subpoenas would force the issue. "I'm waiting for the day when the hearings are not voluntary but involve subpoenas in which evolutionists are deposed at length on their views. On that happy day, I can assure you they won't come off looking well."[1]


  1. ^ Kansas Hearings: Scopes in Reverse? — Yes and No William Dembski. Uncommon Descent, May 7, 2005.
Thanks, sorry about the confusion. So, you've moved this here as it needs to be more closely tied into the section. That's reasonable, it's probably worth mentioning the "vise strategy" phrase and his aim of getting subpoenas on scientists, but that's more relevant to the later Kitzmiller trial. . dave souza, talk 15:57, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
Just based on that source, I read it as an off-hand comment. Unless there's more to this idea, unless the "vise strategy" is like the wedge strategy in that it's actually a long-term thing, I don't see it as really worth mentioning or singling out in a quote. It could probably be slotted somewhere but right now I don't see where. It's like the "vaccine-autism" thing; sure he said it, but does he spend a lot of time advocating for it? I've relocated that point to the biography section and frankly I wouldn't mind taking it out completely. It certainly doesn't deserve its own section, even though it does demonstrate Dembski's lack of understanding of either the scientific process, specific findings, or scientific consensus. Plus, it's sourced to a radio broadcast, it'd be nice to see it in text (mostly so I don't have to listen to 40 minutes of stupid). If anyone else wants to note when it occurs in the broadcast... I've done a bit of googling and found nothing so far about Dembski/autism/vaccines but it hasn't been exhaustive. WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 16:34, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
Found useful coverage in Barbara Forrest (July 31, 2006). "CSI | The "Vise Strategy" Undone: Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved 2010-08-11.  . . . . . dave souza, talk 18:30, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
Huh, well bully for us then. If Forrest is only replying to the one comment by Dembski (the original citation seems to be the same one we would be citing) I'm still reluctant to include a lengthy commentary but the original comment and rebuttal by Forrest could probably be integrated into an existing section. To add anything more than say, two sentences, I would still think we'd need citations demonstrating it was a strategy or long-term preoccupation, rather than a a single off-the-cuff comment. Though, it looks like Forrest has some citations to that end! I won't comment further or integrate until I've read the post. WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 20:25, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────A couple of other links that came up in the search: The Vise Strategy: Squeezing the Truth out of Darwinists |Uncommon Descent is Dembski's original blog posting, still up on their site. WORLD Magazine | Religious studies | Marvin Olasky | Jul 17, 10 is a book review on World (magazine) dated July 17, 2010, which says:

A good religious studies department would put on its reading list Evidence for God, edited by William Dembski and Michael Licona (Baker, 2010). The book includes 50 succinct essays that examine key questions concerning philosophy (including reasons for suffering), science, Jesus, and the Bible. Dembski's essay on "The Vise Strategy" has terrific questions designed to push methodological materialists to drop their unscientific prejudices and give God a chance.

So looks like it's not been forgotten. This non-reliable source repeats Dembski's questions which were supposed to form "a steel trap that leave[s] the Darwinists no room to escape", and gives answers. Not suitable as a source but amusing reading. . dave souza, talk 20:49, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

Just noticed: that last source has a link, "William Dembski proposed what he calls (tongue, presumably, in cheek) a "Vise Strategy" as a successor to the "Wedge", the aim being to "squeeze the truth out of Darwinists". You can read the whole thing at (pdf, 23 pages)." It's one of the DI's websites so a reliable self-published source, and the essay's at that link but I've not read it all. . . dave souza, talk 20:58, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
Huh, looks like we've got a good point-counterpoint then! I'd still roll it into another section rather than trying to have it on its own, but then again I don't think it was in it's own section to begin with. Capital! WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 22:46, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

Sourcing review[edit]

As part of a general review, I'm going to be going through the references and tidying them up as well as seeing how things fit together a bit better. There's too many sections which are a bit incoherent in my opinion. I've done a bit with the bio section so people can see what kind of thing I mean. Mostly, stuff needs citation templates and a pretty thorough review. WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 16:34, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

Intelligent design is pseudoscience[edit] is seen as a good parity source, particularly for creationism topics. It's not a "usenet group", it has its own wikipedia page and it's award winning, and is recognized by Scientific American, Science, the AAAS, the Smithsonian, and used in many, many college courses. This isn't a random website.

WP:BLP does not overwrite all other policies, and WP:UNDUE requires us to contextualize things in proportion to their mainstream acceptance - and no mainstream publication accepts intelligent design as valid. We are enjoined to get BLPs right, and that "Criticism and praise should be included if they can be sourced to reliable secondary sources, so long as the material is presented responsibly, conservatively, and in a disinterested tone." My points are always sourced, the sources are always reliable, the material is presented responsibly, conservatively and in a disinterested tone. The scientific consensus is that ID is pseudoscience. This is not controversial, this is not a minority position, there's no debate over this. There has been no scientific papers published supporting ID, no scientific society agrees that ID is a worthwhile idea, or even a scientific theory. It's not that I disagree with Dembski (I do, he's wrong). My personal opinion is not the point. The point is we must give DUE WEIGHT to the appropriate scholarly opinion, that that opinion is what I am sourcing. Not my own. Perhaps I'm confused - what specific part of BLP are my edits violating?

Also, if anyone objects to a section, remove that section - don't blanket revert to remove actual improvements like citation templates. WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 17:03, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

I've reverted the edits to the page. There was a reason I replaced multiple citations with one - Young & Edis is a superior citation because it is explicit, and only one was needed. Though the other sources could be used, Y&E is better because it refers to Dembski specifically, criticizes his work specifically, and doesn't lead to source-spamming. The time article is from 2005, and he's not employed as a professor of theology at Southern Baptist anymore. By far he is best known as a proponent of intelligent design, not as a professor of anything. WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 13:18, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Do not remove the well sourced descriptions of the man's career again. We get that you disagree with him, but that doesn't allow you to engage in vandalistic BLP violations. Freakshownerd (talk) 13:46, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
First, where is the BLP violation? Second, why do you keep replacing unnecessary sources? Third, why do you not retain the incremental improvements to citation templates? Fourth, where is the vandalism? Fifth, where have I removed "well-sourced descriptions of the man's career"? He's not a professor of theology anymore, he's a professor of philosophy. Sixth, I'm removing the unnecessary and inaccurate use of a duplicate citation to the time article; there's no reason to replace it, the overall citation to the article is to the front page, we don't need to link to every single page that exists. Plus, it's from 2005 and is now inaccurate. His employment and degrees are noted, but his expertise and profession is more tenuous. This isn't about disagreeing with what he says, this is about the most reasonable summary of his career. This certainly isn't worth edit warring over. WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 14:16, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Feel free to fix thte citations. I apologize if I messed them up. That was no intentional. DO NOT remove the well sourced content on the man's career in an attempt to belittle and disparage him because you don't happen to agree with his views. That is a clear BLP violations and is unacceptable. Freakshownerd (talk) 14:47, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Don't make up false accusations and don't assume bad faith motives. -- (talk) 07:08, 13 February 2014 (UTC)

Mathematician and Philosopher[edit]

I like this descriptive lead cited to time from 2005, theres nothing wrong with it, seems like theres a lot of strong opinions surrounding this sudo science issue, me I don't care its all sudo to me.. anyway,.... William Albert "Bill" Dembski (born July 18, 1960) is a mathematician, philosopher and theologian[2] in the United States known primarily as a proponent of intelligent design (ID) and in particular for promoting the argument of "specified complexity". ... this is fine and covers his main fields. Off2riorob (talk) 14:40, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

I entirely agree with Off2riorob. In its current form, the lede drowns its notable content (Dembski's theories on ID) with an extraordinarily detailed account of Dembski's academic career and qualifications. Why? He's not notable for those. He's notable for his theories on ID. If readers want more, they can read the article. Haploidavey (talk) 15:34, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
I'd support removing mathematician (and leaving the rest). His "claim" to that title seems to be from a) and article calling him it and b) holding degrees in mathematics. I don't think that can be sufficiently or duely used to describe him as a mathematician (i.e. he doesn't appear to have worked as a mathematician). --Errant Tmorton166(Talk) 15:36, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
The very best you could say is "former theologian" since he does not currently hold that position. He is primarily known as a proponent of intelligent design, as far as I know does not publish anything in the peer reviewed press on math, doesn't hold a position, etc. I don't know if Time is the best source for any of this, there are plenty of scholarly books to choose from. Would that be acceptable to all editors?
FSN, I had fixed the citations, that is why I am irritated. I'm not attempting to disparage him, I am attempting to depict his career and give due weight to the mainstream opinion of his ideas. My edits included all of this information - his former position as a professor of theology and his current position as a professor of philosophy. Calling him a mathematician is simply incorrect as far as I can tell, since he doesn't work as a mathematician, doesn't publish in any math journals, doesn't hold a scholarly position, and in general isn't respected for his work on math. He's primarily a proponent of intelligent design, and at best is secondarily a professor of philosophy. WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 15:46, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
I don't mind retaining mathematician, but it certainly shouldn't be the first and primary description. He hasn't published in over 20 years, and it isn't what he is known for.—Kww(talk) 15:48, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Yeh, there is very little basis for calling him a mathematician. I suggest something like...
Having PhD's in both mathematics and philosophy justifies the statement. Furthermore Dembski continues to publish mathematical analyses (despite the slander above). See seven publications since 2009 under "Main Publications" at The Evolutionary Informatics Lab. These explicitly use mathematical analyses of information searches. I restored "mathematician".DLH (talk)

William Albert "Bill" Dembski (born July 18, 1960) is an American philosopher and theologian known primarily as a proponent of intelligent design (ID) and in particular for promoting...

Thoughts? --Errant Tmorton166(Talk) 15:54, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Dembski is a controversial figure. I chose the current "most noted" (ID proponent), "training" (list of degrees) and "position" (professor of philosophy, former professor of theology) for that reason. This gives, in my mind, the most accurate description of his career and activities, without giving undue weight to claims that he's a good philosopher or mathematician. Another option, suggested above, is to find what scholarly sources (rather than Time) say about him. Why Intelligent Design Fails lists him as a mathematician and a philosopher (not a theologian), but then lists several stinging criticisms of his work and claims (notably that it's crappy math that's just a rewording of Creationist arguments about the tornado and the junkyard). In particular, I would suggest focusing on scholarly books, and those published after the Dover v. Kitzmiller verdict, where ID took quite the beating and lost much of its credibility. Pity Dembski didn't testify. WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 16:13, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

Despite the false claims and smears being carried out by his ideological opponents, Dembski has published on math related topics at least as recently as 2004 [1]. And someone doesn't stop being one thing as soon as they do other things. No lead on Wikipedia should be written in a way that excludes all the work of their career in order to disparage them as is being attempted here. Freakshownerd (talk) 16:16, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

I removed mathematician, philosopher, etc. The very next sentence says that he has advanced degrees in these areas and it doesn't make sense to include both. I'm easy with either, or neither. but not both. --RegentsPark (talk) 16:18, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
I request including the descriptors of his career work as a philosopher, theologian and mathemetician (if that's the order preferred by those seeking to minimize his credentials), especially since the other version uses information on his degrees that isn't as well sourced and that was actually removed earlier today. These descriptions were used by Time magazine and there's really no dispute that this is what the man has done in his career. It is standard to note someone's career information in the lead. And the end of the first sentence as it was written clearly spells out what he is most known for (ID stuff), so no reasonable objection can be made to providing rest of his career background as per standard practice. Just because someone advocates unpopular or even incorrect views doesn't mean they stop being a mathemetician, a theologian, or a philosopher. The areas of his career work should certainly be noted, as he's notable and has received recognition for his work in all those areas. Freakshownerd (talk) 16:29, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
What peer reviewed articles has he published in the field of mathematics in the past decade? Time isn't an academic source, it's like asking Time to comment on the implications of CCSVI for MS patients. At best, they give you a breakdown of the popular reaction - not the probability the treatment works and the theory is accurate. Why favour Time over other sources? WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 17:24, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
WLU: I'm not sure why that's reverent. Someone is a mathematician if reliable sources describe him as such per our policy on verifiability. Also, Time not being an academic source is also irreverent, again, per our policy on verifiability. That said, I take no position on this issue, just on these two arguments which are invalid. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 18:01, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
I can see your point, but Dembski is a controversial figure. A straight up prof of math who publishes a notable new theory or revolutionizes a field passes N easily and gets described as a mathematician. Does someone who builds perpetual motion machines in between their shifts at McDonalds get described as an engineer? Dembski is somewhere between the two, but more on the PMM side. He is first and foremost a promoter of ID. He's a professor of philosophy. He Christian-apologetics-press-publishes extremely shoddy math. The latter two roles are essentially in support of his promotion of ID and ultimately his Christian Apologetics. Someone who routinely publishes mathematical proofs in peer reviewed journals is undoubtedly a mathematician, almost irrespective any qualifications - but as far as I can tell, Dembski does not do this. Edis & Young have a chapter calling his work "pseudomathematics" which is a lovely turn of phrase, and goes on to criticize the work not on theological or philosophical grounds like most others, but on scientific/mathematical grounds. For me, "promoter of ID" comes first, the perhaps "philosopher". But I persist in believing the best route is to include promoter, then current affiliation/position, then I would include qualifications. The current lead has the first two - so I'm basically voicing my agreement there. I would also include his qualifications. Despite being redundant to the infobox, Dembski does have relevant education and I do think it propos to mention. And keep in mind, this is despite me being an evil violator of BLP who solely exists to disparage the subject! WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 16:43, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
ID is psuedoscience. Whether or not you agree is a POV. Dembski may be a brilliant mathmetician (I agree with that statement completely), but he is an oddball when it comes to debating evolution. (talk) 06:54, 6 October 2010 (UTC)

I don't personally have any problem with calling Dembski a mathematician. He's got the degree and, unlike almost all other creationists out there, tries to express his theories in concise mathematical form. This makes him far superior to, say, Dr. Gitt, who wrote an entire book on creationist information theory ("In The Beginning Was Information") without once ever defining exactly what he means by information. In Dembski's case, anyone with sufficient patience and mathematical skill can follow his arguments. Some of them seem a little old-fashioned (e.g. using significance tests instead of, say, Bayesian evidence theory), but that doesn't necessarily make them wrong.

Of course, I do think his theories are flawed (see for my critique), but the fact that they are clearly presented makes it much easier to find the flaws. Howard Landman (talk) 10:22, 18 January 2014 (UTC)

Thank you very much for your input, Howard. As you can see, "mathematician" has long been restored to the lead, but it's good to have your professional opinion here. Imo, your paper should be cited in the article. It would be a conflict of interest and therefore inappropriate for you to add it yourself, and I don't have the time, but maybe another editor will see this and incorporate an informed argument against Dembski's math. Yopienso (talk) 18:38, 18 January 2014 (UTC)


I'm trying to copy edit the lead, and I'm moving this paragraph here, because it's unclearly written and looks a bit odd in the lead (and not clearly related to the subject as he didn't give evidence). If it is related to him directly, it needs to be written differently; and we don't explain who Shallit is, and why he's so important to Dembski that he needs to be in the lead of the bio.

The question of whether intelligent design is science or theology was put on trial in the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover (USA 2005). The key issue was whether intelligent design is faith-based and "junk science". As such, it was argued that it was unacceptable on the curriculum of a publicly funded high-school biology course. In a 139-page decision on December 20, 2005, Judge E. Jones wrote that "the overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory."[1] A controversy arose when Dembski withdrew from giving testimony in the trial and rebuttal witness Shallit was removed from the schedule.[2][3]

SlimVirgin talk|contribs 16:49, 24 August 2010 (UTC)


  1. ^ [[Wikisource:Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District/3:Disclaimer#Page 43 of 139|Kitzmiller v Dover Area School District], p. 43 on Wikisource.
  2. ^ trial documents,
  3. ^ Shallit, Jeffrey (2005-06-16). "Expert Report for case of Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al. NO.: CV 04-2688 (pages 3,5)" (PDF). Retrieved 2006-12-09. 
Your changes removed notation of his being a mathemetician and theologian, which is highly problematic as it leaves out much of his career's work. It is also misleading to readers because it is clearly the intersection of the fields where his interest lies. But even you don't take my word for it, the titles of mathemetician and theologian are what was used by Time magazine so you will need to explain their exclusion. You can also consider whether this [2] is a standard philosophy text or something that relates more to theology and mathematics (the areas you've excluded). Freakshownerd (talk) 17:07, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
I added that he's a mathematician because he has a PhD in it. I'm less sure we could call him a theologian, and I'm not sure it really matters. The infobox makes clear what his qualifications are, and it's always odd looking in BLPs to have a long list of credentials in the first line: X is a journalist and author and columnist and philosopher and statistician and generous giver to charity and a horrible husband etc. :) SlimVirgin talk|contribs 17:11, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Time (magazine)]] called him a theologian. It seems to me that his theories overlap the magisteria, to put it as Stephen Jay Gould and WLU might, and that his religious interests are part and parcel of his beliefs, research and study. But as I don't want to be accused of original research, I recommend going with what the reliable sources say. Certainly the idea that there is an intelligent creator (something he explores via mathematics and statistics) certainly seems to include considerations that would accurately be described as being theological. Freakshownerd (talk) 17:17, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Note my previous comments of listing his degrees and positions rather than titles. He's far more a theologian than a mathematician since he's got degrees in both but only held a professorship in the former. His qualifications and professional status are controversial because of the areas he chooses to write in. Time is a popular magazine, not an academic publisher. Only the latter would be qualified to comment on his expertise.
Regards the removed paragraph, it could be replaced in a modified, shortened form, the fact that Dembski withdrew from such a controversial trial is worth the lead, but not in its current form.
The paper FSN has linked to does not appear to be a peer-reviewed publication, I wouldn't suggest it substantiates that Dembski is a mathematician. Has he published a series of articles in peer-reviewed mathematics journals? Are his theories taken seriously? Generally I think his "life is complex" ideas are ignored, or criticized in more parity sources. WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 17:21, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
He has a PhD in philosophy, a PhD in mathematics, and is employed as a philosopher. He only has a master's in theology. And really I think we are splitting hairs here. Point is he has a science and humanities background, and he is paid to be a philosopher. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 17:34, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
The problem is one of weighting. He is known as being a proponent of ID. If it were not for that, there would be no article. Including the word "mathematician" in the article isn't a problem. Including it in the lead probably isn't a problem. Including it in the lead sentence, prior to mentioning the only thing for which he is actually known is a weighting problem.—Kww(talk) 17:47, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
This makes sense to me. If he is primarily known as a proponent of ID, then perhaps the earlier formulation this one is the best. This would be second best. --RegentsPark (talk) 17:54, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
I've removed mathematician for now, as I don't see that it really makes any difference, but I do think it's important that we begin by saying what he does (philosopher), rather than what he advocates (ID). Both are in the first sentence, so neither is being promoted or hidden. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 18:09, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
"Promoter of ID" is what he is and what he does, which is exactly why it should come first. He isn't a "something that promotes ID", he is a "promoter of ID that ...".—Kww(talk) 18:45, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
He's employed as a philosopher, and BLPs tend to start that way: John Smith is an X who is known for Y. To do otherwise looks as though people are wanting to emphasize the Y for reasons other than being encyclopedic. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 18:56, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
You don't think the income he derives from the Discovery Institute and from ID book sales outweighs his philosopher income?—Kww(talk) 19:20, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
<ec> The lead should clearly and upfront state what the independent third party sources state, that ID is creationist at root, and is not a theory in the scientific sense. We seem to have lost pseudoscience which is unfortunate, but don't have time at present to search out new sources. Have modified lead accordingly, also clarifying that natural selection isn't an explanation for origins of life, only for its complexity. . . dave souza, talk 19:23, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
It does say it's creationist but please don't add the contentious pseudoscience word. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 19:26, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Just something to keep in mind in general: This is a BLP and should not be used as a coat rack to re-argue the case for or against ID. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 19:28, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree. This has been a very troubled BLP for a long time for that reason. It would be great if it could just be approached as a biography. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 19:31, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
There's nothing about writing a biography of a pseudoscientist that prohibits the use of the word "pseudoscience". The article tends to get heavy into refutation, but that generally comes as a reaction to people inserting pro-ID material into the biography or demanding extensive citation for the fact that he is a pseudoscientist.—Kww(talk) 20:12, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Kww, with respect, that is not a good attitude to edit a BLP with. If you have strong feelings it would be better just to leave it. The BLPs can't be used as weapons in these debates, for or against. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 20:19, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
It's a fine attitude to edit a BLP with. There's a major distinction between identifying someone as a pseudoscientist, which is a fairly objective thing, and ascribing motivations. If I were attempting to describe his motivations for promoting pseudoscience I'd be on shaky ground, and I don't do that.—Kww(talk) 20:37, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── It's fine to drop the term "pseudoscience" on Intelligent Design, as that's clearly what it's described as. However, dropping the term straight into a BLP is problematic, to say the least. Without some air-tight citations, it's just asking for drama and edit-warring. I'd say leave that out. His lack of scientific rigor is clearly borne out by his methods and responses to criticism; there's no need to light a fire under the article by adding such a contentious term. — The Hand That Feeds You:Bite 21:52, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

But the value of that contentious term is that it clearly conveys the actual merit of their opinion. There are citations to support ID and SC being pseudoscience, and BLP requires us to source criticisms, not leave them out. How else to we convey the idea that Dembski's publications and ideas lack merit? It's pithy and accurate, and supported by both WP:PSCI and WP:FRINGE/PS. ID is seen as nothing but updated creationism, which is paradigmatic pseudoscience. WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 02:32, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
That's the issue in a nutshell. A biography of Dembski that didn't indicate that he has not produced any work that stood up to critical reasoning and review would be sorely lacking, and it's difficult to do that without using words that indicate that his work can't stand up to critical reasoning and review.—Kww(talk) 14:59, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
We do say in the lead that scientists see it as contemporary creationism, religion dressed up as science. I can't see the benefit of adding what philosophers call a "boo-hurrah word," like pseudoscience, terrorist etc, a word that only signifies some group doesn't like the thing in question. It overeggs the pudding, which is a problem you see a lot in articles that science editors don't like: one criticism after another, all saying more or less the same thing. It looks very defensive, and it has the opposite of the desired effect on the reader. If we could find a quote from a high-quality source that explains why the concept is important: "it's important to point out that this is pseudoscience because ..." with in-text attribution, that could change my mind, but just sticking the word in would not seem like good editing to me. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 15:16, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
What's the best way forward? Listing the best sources to support the point, and deciding from there? That seems reasonable to me, what do others think? WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 16:28, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
Is there a high-quality source who explains the sense in which this is pseudoscience (discussing Dembski in particular) and why it's important to point that out? That would provide a context, rather than just adding the word. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 16:55, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
"boo-hurrah" doesn't remotely mean what you say it means (that should be obvious from the "hurrah" part), and "pseudoscience" clearly isn't a "boo-hurrah" word in any case; it's a descriptive term defined by Popper. -- (talk) 07:32, 13 February 2014 (UTC)

I have to question the last part of the lead. It looks like information that you would find in the intelligent design article and not in a blp. Truthsort (talk) 03:22, 30 August 2010 (UTC)


Archived the page. The archives were screwed up, two less than 100K and one more than 300, I tried to even them out to 250 apiece but am on possibly the slowest computer in the world and may have screwed it up. WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 16:22, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

As opposed to natural selection[edit]

I don't like the "as opposed to natural selection" bit in the present lead. Dembski says that natural selection doesn't explain the complexity of life. But then again, so do his detractors. "Evolutionists" don't claim that natural selection is the sole process necessary to explain the complexity of life, but one in addition to other evolutionary mechanisms, such as genetic drift. (See for example this article with a brief summary). This may seem like a minor point, but I think it is an important one nevertheless. Is there another way to phrase this? Would it be OK to just remove the "as opposed to natural selection" from the lead? Gabbe (talk) 17:51, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

The sentence seems a bit out of place in the lead in general - there must be a better of describing ID <cough>pseudoscience</cough> without having to explain what it's not. Perhaps in the first sentence of the state "William Albert "Bill" Dembski (born July 18, 1960) is an American philosopher , known as a proponent well known for promoting the concept of intelligent design (the belief that the diversity of life is the result of an unnamed intelligent entity rather than evolution) and for his own the concept of specified complexity, which he believes can be used to identify the presence of design." Of course, next you would have to include a statement about how this is bunk and rejected by the scientific community <cough>pseudoscience</cough> to avoid UNDUE problems, and the lead spirals out of control.
Also, I'm not a fan of the list of books in the lead, he's got a lot of publications but I don't see it necessary to reproduce even the major books there. The page is quite long, for the lead to be this...banal...seems odd. WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 18:17, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
Describing intelligent design (ID) as "the belief that the diversity of life is the result of an unnamed intelligent entity rather than evolution" is unfortunately also rather inexact. For one, theistic evolution (TE) also says that the diversity of life is the result of an intelligent entity, but TE is not the same as ID. Part of the difference between them is the statement that it can be (and has been) empirically testable whether an intelligent designer is responsible for the complexity of life. Furthermore, a reader might easily assume that the word "evolution" in the definition was used in its scientific sense (that is, "the change in gene frequencies in a population across generations"), in which case ID concurs that gene frequencies change and that it is part of the explanation for the diversity of life.
If we're going to define ID in the lead, our definition should not only be concise but accurate. I think simply dropping ", as opposed to natural selection," from the current lead (thus leaving The concept of intelligent design involves the argument that an overarching intelligence is responsible for the complexity of life, and that it can be detected empirically.) would be a big improvement. Gabbe (talk) 19:50, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
Is the idea not that ID sees an intelligent cause as responsible for life in general, not simply its complexity? If so, I would write something like "The concept of intelligent design involves the argument that an overarching intelligence is responsible for life and its complexity, and that this intelligence can be detected empirically." SlimVirgin talk|contribs 19:02, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
Not really ... that's the area where ID tends to get very vague. Michael Behe, for example, has accepted common descent for all life forms and states that evolution primarily happens as a result of natural selection. He thinks that there are some details that were designed as additions to naturally-occurring life.—Kww(talk) 19:09, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
If the argument is that ID is creationism, then it must argue that life was created by an intelligence; otherwise it is not creationism surely. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 19:15, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
You miss its origins. ID is creation science renamed, going a bit further to obscure the fact that it's crreationism relabelled. Check this section. It's right to say it attributes life, the universe and everything to a creator intelligent designer, but it then says that's in opposition to evolution or natural selection, neither of which explains the origin of life or matter. Thus they might talk about "Darwinist cosmology", a subject outside Darwin's area of work So, miss out the natsel and that's ok. . . dave souza, talk 19:43, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
That lack of internal self-consistency is one of the reasons it's so hard to take seriously. When defending it in Christian forums ID advocates have no problems identifying the designer as God. When defending it in secular forums, they tend to backpedal very quickly. I can't imagine a supernatural force that would come along, design the bacterial flagellum and the blood-clotting cascade while leaving the rest to chance, but that's what they propose.—Kww(talk) 20:36, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
Seconding what Kww and DS are saying - if you're really interested, get the PDF copy of the Dover v. Kitzmiller decision (pdf). for At 140 pages it's a pretty easy skim (particularly if you skip to the part entitled "is ID science?" - the short answer is "no") but an excellent book on the whole trial is Monkey Girl by Edward Humes. Very, very good book - a bit long, but very well written and a very speedy read for that reason. And, in my opinion, fascinating. ID really is God of the gaps and the watchmaker analogy vis. biochemistry, and Dembski's contribution is to add some shoddy math to Hoyle's fallacy. Seriously, I took very little math in university, just two intro stats courses, and I saw through it - it's not a math problem at all actually, just a misstated or misunderstood application of natural selection with some Greek letters and handwaving. Natural selection means you don't need a protein to spontaneously assemble, just gradually assemble over millions of generations by being slightly better than the last version at doing something. How Dembski fails to grasp this I'll never understand; it's so incredibly obvious, so basic, and such an old argument in Creationist circles, I'm tempted to simply see it as a continuation of the creationist dishonesty of yore. WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 23:08, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

William Dembski claims[edit]

to be a biblical literalist and believes Adam and Eve were the very first people, whom everyone else came from, and that evolution had no part of human development. He also believes in the 6 day myth. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:25, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

Has Dembski responded to the recent developments that suggest he is now (or perhaps always has been) a biblical literalist and no longer follows, or completely rejects, the scientific evidence? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:17, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

Synthese on 'Evolution and its Rivals'[edit]

Synthese Volume 178, Number 2 / January 2011 is an entire issue devoted to 'Evolution and its Rivals'. It includes articles by such heavyweights as Robert T. Pennock, Wesley Elsberry and Jeffrey Shallit, Sahotra Sarkar, Niall Shanks, Barbara Forrest & James Henry Fetzer. Elsberry & Shallit's article, Information theory, evolutionary computation, and Dembski’s “complex specified information” would be particularly relevant to this topic. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 04:21, 17 December 2010 (UTC)

william dembski is an "analytic philosopher"? Are you kidding me[edit]

I have to admit this article always delivers when it come to comedy. Who in the entire would knows Dembski as an "analytic philosopher"? Other than wikipedia, can you provide one source that refers to him as an "analytic philosopher" Where in the world did you folks come up with that? Talk about original research. He teaches creationism at a bible school, how many other bible teachers are described as "analytic philosophers"? Why are so many editors here afraid to call dembski what he really is? Look at the articles about other IDers/fundies/nutjobs, and you don't see the kind of fear based descriptions that you see in this one. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:07, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

Where do you find "fear based" in your sources? The spurious description is gone, for now. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 16:20, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

an exceptional improvement, Bill! If you read the history of this article you can see that describing dembski has been an ongoing issue. at one point they laughably referred to him as a mathematician here, lol! And I took the time to read the analytic philosophy article here, obviously whoever used that description for him never did the same. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:39, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

...inventor of the concept of specified complexity?[edit]

"...inventor of the concept of specified complexity." Is "inventor" the most descriptive term we can use? When we step back and realize specified complexity is utter nonsense, using the phrase "inventor of" suggests something sciency is going on here, when the verifiable accounts suggest otherwise. Would "originator" be a more acurate description? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:33, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

According to Specified complexity, the term originated around 1973 with Leslie Orgel. __Just plain Bill (talk) 18:45, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
Yes, but as far as I can tell, neither Dembski, nor anybody else, uses it in Orgel's original, more general, meaning. And certainly without SC, nobody would bother to write about Dembski. He has written many books attempting a none-too-successful elaboration on this concept into a purported evolution-stumper. 19:28, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
"Widely known for promoting" works just fine, thanks. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 19:32, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

Talk Origins archive[edit]

TOA has been discussed many times at WP:RSN, and the consensus is that is is a reliable source [[3]]. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 06:48, 16 August 2011 (UTC)

Neutrality Questioned[edit]

The comment that Dembski believes his daughter's autism is related to vaccines should be removed, as it is a covert way to cast aspersions, since the consensus of the scientific community is that vaccines are safe and unrelated to autism. The comment does not enhance the article, and serves only as a veiled slur on Dembski's scientific credibility. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dmp717200 (talkcontribs) 01:00, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Close. Wekn reven i susej eht Talk• Follow 18:48, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
What an extraordinary suggestion. Dembski's belief is a documented fact. It's not up to us to determine what can be inferred from that, or to avoid stating something just because of what might be inferred from it. -- (talk) 07:52, 13 February 2014 (UTC)
This conversation is from two years ago. Noformation Talk 08:03, 13 February 2014 (UTC)

'Early opposition to evolution' section[edit]

The article appears to derive the following passage:

Dembski holds that his knowledge of statistics and his skepticism concerning evolutionary theory led him to believe that the extraordinary diversity of life was statistically unlikely to have been produced by natural selection.

But the following passage is all that the cited source has to say about his "early" opposition:

Then in 1988 he had a eureka moment. At a conference on randomness at Ohio State University, a statistician concluded the event by saying, "We know what randomness isn't. We don't know what it is." It made sense to Dembski. If God is the creator of the universe, then there should be order in the world, not randomness. Darwinists were having so much trouble defining the randomness inherent in evolutionary theory because life was essentially not random. It was designed. And randomness could be understood only in terms of that design. "That insight really has propelled me all these years," Dembski says.

It is clear that the derived material contains a number of ideas not contained in the citation. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 03:21, 11 December 2011 (UTC)

Also, although I'm fairly sure that sources have drawn the relationship between The Design Inference and his thesis, I cannot remember any drawing a relationship between them and his Nous article -- the latter relationship thus likewise being synthesis without a source to back it up. Likewise the relationship between the Nous article and the thoughts contained in his sentence is likewise synthesis. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 03:25, 11 December 2011 (UTC)

You keep up with this stuff better than I do. My issue with your revert was that it's been like this for awhile, and I don't believe that the editor had made the change. OrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 05:40, 11 December 2011 (UTC)

Faith healing[edit]

Regarding this edit, while I think Dembski's opinions on faith healing might be appropriate to his bio, I don't think the tone of that presentation is appropriate. It is presented as an anecdote - I don't think the tone is really what we aim for in an encyclopaedia article. And I'm not convinced that we need to bring in the nature of what he wanted healed. If the issue was autism, it would be germane, but given that it's faith healing, I'm less than convinced. Guettarda (talk) 17:44, 19 February 2012 (UTC)

I agree that his opinion on faith healing is pertinent to the article but it needs to be re-written in a less anecdotal style.Theroadislong (talk) 18:42, 19 February 2012 (UTC)
I would be satisfied if the section was edited in the way Guetterada specified; the primary reason why I made the edit was to protect his family. If an editor were to leave out the specifics and simply give his position (if it is important to the article or somehow enhances it in any positive way) in the style of the rest of the article, the paragraph would be much better off than it is now. Wekn reven 18:19, 20 February 2012 (UTC)
The following makes this section look like something out of a gossip mag, or needs to be rephrased as to better fit the source:

Dembski once took his family to a meeting conducted by Todd Bentley, a faith healer, in hopes of receiving a "miraculous healing" for his son, who is autistic. In an article for the Baptist Press he recalled disappointment with the nature of the meeting and with the prevention of his son and other attendees from joining those in wheelchairs who were selected to receive prayer. He then concluded, "Minimal time was given to healing, though plenty was devoted to assaulting our senses with blaring insipid music and even to Bentley promoting and selling his own products (books and CDs)." He wrote that he did not regret the trip and called it an "education," which showed "how easily religion can be abused, in this case to exploit our family."

It would sound better this way:

Dembski took his family to a meeting conducted by Todd Bentley, a faith healer, in hope of receiving a "miraculous healing" for his son. In an article for the Baptist Press he recalled disappointment with the nature of the meeting, concluding, "Minimal time was given to healing, though plenty was devoted to assaulting our senses with blaring insipid music and even to Bentley promoting and selling his own products (books and CDs)." He wrote that he did not regret the trip and called it an "education," which showed "how easily religion can be abused, in this case to exploit our family."

Which still isn't very conclusive about what is important -- that is, his stance on faith healing.

Wekn reven 09:34, 24 February 2012 (UTC)

He may have "hoped" for a miraculous healing but you cannot say he went there with the "possibility" of a miraculous healing?Theroadislong (talk) 10:45, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
I was thinking of how he put it in the article. You're right -- I'll rephrase it. It was something of a far-fetched wish, since they were willing to try anything.
Especially per "Call us stubborn, but my wife and I are unimpressed with doctors who see our son’s condition as hopeless. We believe that God still heals and that His means of healing include conventional medicine, alternative medicine, prayer, fasting, love and, yes, miracles. In any case, we haven’t given up on our son’s recovery (we still remember the day when he was developmentally on track). So if God wanted to use Todd Bentley, we were open to it."

The underlined part given above and the highlighted "if" should be the message of our paragraph on his stance. Wekn reven 11:43, 24 February 2012 (UTC)

It would be far simpler and honest to say "in hope of receiving a "miraculous healing" for his son" Theroadislong (talk) 12:11, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
O.K. Change has been made. Wekn reven 12:23, 24 February 2012 (UTC)

"Former proponent" of ID?[edit]

The lead states that Dembski is a "former proponent" of intelligent design, implying that he is no longer a proponent, as if he has changed his views. Because the lead is supposed to be an overview of the article body, I looked through the article body and couldn't find any indication that this "former proponent" characterization is correct. Did I miss something? ~Anachronist (talk) 08:43, 12 January 2017 (UTC)