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Royal Truman responds to Mark Kluge

Dr. Truman’s response to Dr. Kluge’s criticism posted to a publicly accessible discussion board
at the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (CARM) website.

© 1999 Dr. Royal Truman.  All Rights Reserved. 

A synopsis of “Kluge’s” posting to the CARM (public) bulletin board:

Shortly after Dr. Royal Truman’s essay critiquing Dawkins was posted on this site, Dr. Mark Kluge (under the “web name” of “Lucas”) on 10 July 1999 posted a very negative response at the publicly accessible creation/evolution discussion board at the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) website. When Kluge’s criticism was posted on this site along with Truman’s reply, Dr. Kluge was quite upset, feeling that his copyright protection had been infringed upon.

What follows, then, is a paraphrase of Kluge’s objection to Truman’s essay, followed by Truman’s response.

Dr. Kluge first mentioned that the mistake he found was in a “typical passage.” He objected to the use of the word “independent” rather than “mutually exclusive” when Truman was discussing Bayes’ Theorem in Part 2 of his essay. Kluge specifically referred to the equation:

P(E) = P(E|F1)P(F1) + (E|F2)P(F2) + (E|Fn)P(Fn) (2)

Included in Kluge’s short criticism was a suggestion that it would behoove Truman to read “a book on introductory probability”.

Helen Fryman & Timothy Wallace

Response from Royal Truman:

With amusement I read Lucas’ rather skimpy observations on my article. I recognized an ancient ruse used to discredit someone’s position: take some issue of no significance; play it up out of proportion; pretend this proves one’s opponent is hopelessly incompetent.

Here’s how one could play the game: Issue of no significance: Richard Dawkins incorrectly calls 11-cis-retinal a ‘protein’ in Unweaving the Rainbow. Play it up out of proportion: allege anyone with training in the hard sciences, like biochemistry, would not be so clumsy; that Dawkins relies on story-telling but falls apart when he comes to real facts, etc. Pretend this proves one’s opponent is hopelessly incompetent: end with a general statement like, “This is typical of the level of Dawkins’ sophistication!”

Review Lucas’ comments. Recognize the pattern?

What are the facts? With both graduate and undergraduate training in statistics and probability theory, I am confident my peers have not been confused by what I wrote (specifically, the single word ‘independent’) and could also choose to quibble with Lucas’ ‘improvement’.

In ‘projection to latent structures’ and similar mathematical methods, orthogonal, “linearly independent” functions are built which by definition have no overlap in the “mutually exclusive” sense Lucas refers to. I am very certain those involved in probability studies have not been confused by my unfortunate use of 1 word in a 35 page article!

In probability theory the events of interest must be defined so as to be mutually exclusive and are normalized for convenience so that their sum = 0. In an expression like P(E|F1) the F1 can be composed of multiple caveats (like “it is a holiday and raining”) to ensure all the components of the probability expression are mutually exclusive. If one wishes to quibble, or blow more smoke, one would claim Lucas observation is incomprehensible because he neglected to add the usual wording that the events of interest must be exhaustive (so as to be able to calculate values for the known exclusive terms).

My article made it clear that the main question to be resolved is how could coded information be generated by random changes. Bayesian statistics is of no relevance to this issue. Concrete examples leading to new biological structures and function were requested. Lucas’ red herring has not deceived anyone.

Royal Truman

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