Monday, June 28, 2010

Dembski haplessly admits to plagiarism?

In “Efficient Per Query Information Extraction from a Hamming Oracle” Winston Ewert, George Montañez, William A. Dembski, Robert J. Marks II do not cite the sources of the algorithms they analyze. Yet Dembski trumpeted at Uncommon Descent, “New Peer-Reviewed ID Paper — Deconstructing the Dawkins WEASEL.”

The algorithms (A) and (B) are implemented, respectively, by the programs WEASEL1 and WEASEL2 that Dembski said were supplied to him by the pseudonymous “Oxfordensis.” Dembski announced, “[W]e shall… henceforward treat the programs below as the originals,” i.e., as those used by Richard Dawkins. Any way you slice it, the programs and the algorithms they implement are due to someone other than Ewert et alia.

If you abstract an algorithm from a program, you are ethically obligated to cite the program, just as you are ethically obligated to cite a book from which you get an idea, even if you do not copy words from the book. Algorithms are intellectual property, and are in fact patentable.

Has Dembski not tagged himself and his colleagues as plagiarists?


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. That's a bit of a leap in logic. Sure they said that they'd consider Oxfordensis' code as the best representation of Dawkins' original algorithm, but that doesn't preclude Ewert et alia from independently devising an improved and original representation of the algorithm.

    Your argument was plausible until you said "No matter how you slice it"....

  3. david,

    There is no originality of any sort. (A) and (B) are precisely the idiosyncratic algorithms implemented by the programs that Dembski dubbed WEASEL1 and WEASEL2, respectively. The reason these algorithms are not studied in evolutionary computation is that they are, in a word, stupid.