Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Well, This Should Certainly Help Baylor's Reputation

Here's a video by creationist professor Bob Marks that claims to be a lecture he gave at Baylor's "Introduction to Engineering" course, ENGR 1302, in Fall 2011 at the invitation of Professor Brian Thomas. It prominently features the logo of the Baylor University School of Engineering and Computer Science. I wonder why Baylor's Engineering department thinks it's a good idea to indoctrinate their freshmen engineers in creationist propaganda.

Watch Marks
- violate copyright by including videos of movies
- repeat the bogus claim that information only comes from an intelligent source (easy counterexample: weather forecasting)
- dramatically overstate the importance of the "No Free Lunch" theorem (which isn't very deep or important; nor does it have any real relevance to evolution). He claims it implies that "all algorithms kind of work on average the same as blind, exhaustive search". The only problem is that this assumes that the "average" is taken over a uniform distribution of all possible assignments of values to elements of the search space. Real search spaces don't look anything like this.
- claim that "The universe is not old enough or big enough to allow the evolution of complex life" (at 50:00)
- talk about his "active information" and "endogenous information" without revealing that the only people who use these measures are Marks and his creationist friends
- misrepresent Dawkins' "Methinks it is like a weasel" example
- claim that "In general, computer programs do not have the ability to create information". (Easy counterexample: write a program to map a string x to xx. By iterating this you can generate as much information as you like.)
- cite another creationist, John Sanford, to try to impugn Avida
- suggest that exhibiting other searches that are more efficient than evolutionary search algorithms casts doubt on evolution

Having faculty deliver creationist lectures like this is certain to improve Baylor's worldwide reputation. Why, I imagine the applications for graduate study will be rolling in. He needs to work on the cheesy sound effects and the hideous cartoons, though. Maybe adding some fart noises or stolen Three Stooges footage might help.


John said...

I may be wrong, but "evolution is like a search algorithm" seems to be a pretty weak analogy that lends itself to misinterpretation (deliberate or not).

Melville said...

"- violate copyright by including videos of movies"

It depends.


Jeffrey Shallit said...

Ahh, that's so cute, Melville - thinking that we don't know the implications of "fair use".

Leave the discussion to grownups, please.

Melville said...

Frankly, some people, including me, and including some of your other readers, don't know the ins and outs of Fair Use, which is why I mentioned it.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Ahh, that's even cuter, Melville - thinking that some of us thought you knew what fair use means. We already know you don't. Now go play with your toys.

Melville said...

Knowing what "Fair Use" means is not the same as "knowing the ins and outs of Fair Use."

Cuter still, heh?

Anonymous said...

Love the moronic sound effects and vanity playing cards.