Comments on Bill’s math class

So what is the optimal strategy for dealing with the fact that @colewd obdurately insists on making these mathematical claims, but obdurately refuses to show math backing them up? By closing down the thread, you have somewhat assumed responsibility for this conundrum.

If mass-shaming is ‘inappropriate’ as a means of correcting this behavior, I have to ask, is spamming the same unsubstantiated claims over and over again, and ignoring repeated requests (and eventually demands) that he provide math to substantiate them itself ‘inappropriate’?


Yeah, that was actually a masterwork on the part of @CrisprCAS9 who did something I recall being rather tough to do at a deposition: just staying on point, on subject, pushing until the witness either says what he has to say or admits that he has no damned idea. Nobody holds Bill’s feet to the fire, with the result that he poops on the conversations here over, and over, and over, and over again with the same nattering nonsense. I think holding his face down in it and making him SAY what he means, and making it plain as day that he is clearly and objectively WRONG is a damned fine policy, and I would love to see it pursued.


I shut down a time-waster and you want me to waste time arguing about the time-waster? :laughing:

No. Let Bill be wrong and find some better use for our time. Maybe post about something worth discussing?

To be fair, you shut down what you believe to be a time-waster. One assumes the point of this thread is to argue that, in fact, it was not a time-waster.

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Even assuming that you were accurate in characterising it as a “time-waster”, it was our time to waste. If you didn’t want to spend time moderating the thread, you could have always have converted it to a Side-Conversation. But I would disagree that it is a “time-waster” to attempt to deal with Bill’s ongoing and excessively-repetitive behavior once and for all.

For the avoidance of doubt, I was not asking you “to waste time arguing about the time-waster” – I was asking you to suggest a more time-efficient alternative method to modify Bill’s behavior.

It is not about “Bill be[ing] wrong” once, or even occasionally – it is about Bill being wrong, over and, over and, over and, over and, over and, over and, over and, over and, over and, over and, over and, over and, over and, over and, over and, over and over again, and inserting his wrongness into conversations at every opportunity.

This behavior is disruptive, and it is also annoying. The annoyance factor frequently raises tempers, which makes this forum less peaceful! As such it would seem to be blatantly counterproductive to try and make us leave Bill alone – it merely gives him implicit permission for further disruption.


@Dan_Eastwood, let me expand on this:

When Bill says something wrong in an online public forum frequented by experts and his wrongness is NOT addressed, it lends him credibility to those… less educated visitors to the website. So not addressing it simply isn’t an option.

Not allowing him to be wrong in the same way is within the capacity of moderation, but such would be seen as censorship.

My goal in starting the thread was to produce a centralized repository of his wrongness that I could easily reference each time it happened elsewhere, thus saving time.

With all of that said: What’s the alternative?


One alternative would be to move all Bill’s math claims into a private thread created for that topic, until such time as he can provide mathematical support for them. But that would (i) require moderator participation, and (ii) raise some degree of free-speech/censorship concerns (such that even as its proposer, I’m at best ambivalent over this option).


Another option would be to create a ‘tradition’ whereby any time Bill makes a mathematical claim, somebody creates a poll on whether people think that the claim has any factual/mathematical basis (to allow people to express their opinion with minimum disruption to the original topic), with a link to a permanent side-thread created for discussion of Bill’s mathematical claims, with any further discussion of the claim on the original thread being ruled ‘off-topic’.

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Exactly. I was looking forward to that: the place where, every bloody time we hear “waiting time problem,” or “but that doesn’t explain how there were any genes to vary in the firrrrrrst place, George!” or “you need a model for that, despite the fact that I’ve ignored descriptions of the model for that hundreds of times on this board,” one could just point and say, “hey, Bill, remember when it all unraveled? Remember when somebody called you on this? If you don’t want it to happen again, just bloody well stop.”


Perhaps a numbered library of responses, so you could just reply to Bill with “8, 14, 6”.


Except, as we’re learning, Bill’s not good with numbers.

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That’s the idea. Just as the comment I’m replying to is ‘15676:10’, we could reference 15672:15 or 15672:11.

That’s kind of Biblical. Could we call it the Book of Innumbers, after the examples of innumeracy it contains?


DRINK! :beers:

I would like to reopen the thread, but not for the purpose of dogpiling and bullying poor Bill.

We must have at least 20 threads where this waiting time nonsense has been brought up and beaten down. You might do a little research and link/copy existing refutations, rather than creating a new opportunity to start the argument all over again.

AND did you guys aee the Discourse Year-in-Review post? (Maybe it was mods only/)
If not, let me see if I can make that public, so you can see the disproportionate amount of time spent on Mr. Cole.

I saw it. But only because of a notification. It does not seem to be in the normal forum topic display.

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I bumped it - how about now?

Yes, it is now visible in the normal listing that I see.

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If this was not a real problem there would be no reason to discuss it. Behe showed it is a real problem with a bacterial toy model that Lynch replied to with a similar model and faulty assumptions that gene mutations are neutral. The toy models were around 2 functional mutations.

The toy model is just the beginning of the magnitude of how this works in mammals and vertebrates.

The reality is that this mechanism (gene duplication and divergence) is not a viable answer to evolutionary transitions as Behe claims.

This does not mean that other mechanisms could not be viable. We still have no feasible population genetic models that show how transitions happen.

But I’m trying to minimize the need to trawl through dozens of threads, by having a centralized thread of refutations.

Do you mean that I should compile them so you can temporarily reopen the thread so that they could be added? I’m sure that I could, preferably with the help of others, do that.

But if you mean just look them up across a hundred threads every time he repeats his vacuous nonsense, I don’t think that’s a good solution.

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Bingo! So let’s stop discussing it.