Monday, February 15, 2016

#1596: Winston Ewert

Winston Ewert is Bill Dembski’s at least one-time research assistant and support staff at his Evolutionary Informatics Lab, which is not a lab. As such, he was Dembski’s coauthor (together with George Montañez and Robert J. Marks II) on the paper “Efficient Per Query Information Extraction from a Hamming Oracle”, a paper that has become somewhat legendary for its perfection of the art of obfuscation in the service of anti-science (it is discussed in some detail here), as well as “A General Theory of Information Cost Incurred by Successful Search”, which seems to be not really much better. Ewert’s reply to critics is discussed here; in fact, in December 2015 he finally admitted that the No Free Lunch theorems don’t work as an argument against evolution, but it is unclear whether he is willing to admit that he admitted this. (See in particular this and this for some details).

He also writes posts for Uncommon Descent, in particular posts that display a notoriously poor understanding of (one almost suspects deliberately misleading claims on) probability, such as this.

Ewert is currently apparently affiliated with the Discovery Institute’s Biologic Institute, and has published his own stuff in their house journal Bio-Complexity, which doesn’t set particularly high standards for papers that support their house brand of pseudoscience. The standards are well illustrated by his review paper on several computer models of evolution “Digital Irreducible Complexity: A Survey of Irreducible Complexity in Computer Simulations”, discussed here and here.

The Evolutionary Informatics Lab involves the following senior researchers (as per 2012) in addition to Dembski, Marks, Ewert and Montañez):
-       William F. Basener, Professor of Mathematics at Rochester Institute of Technology and signatory to A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.
-       Gil Dodgen.
-       Norman C. Griswold, Emeritus Halliburton Professor of Electrical Engineering (retired) and former Department Chair at Texas A&M University.
-       Granville Sewell.
-       Donald C. Wunsch II, Mary K. Finley Missouri Distinguished Professor of Computer Engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Diagnosis: We wish to be reluctant to use the word “dishonest”. Suffice to say that Ewert isn’t exactly contributing to the scientific enterprise, unless you count inadvertently making scientists aware of certain interesting fallacies and misunderstandings.

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