What I’m seeing right now is a replay of a thing I’ve seen over, and over, and over again in my years of dealing with creationists. One will say that creationist authors are awful, and the response will invariably be that, well, you haven’t read the book X by author Y, and THAT is the real stuff. It’s serious, it’s intellectually honest, and it’s worthwhile, and you can’t lump all these people together.
And then, of course, one looks into it. In my case, as I write book reviews, I often look into it by just simply reading the book. What is the answer, when one does? It is always the same. Yes, every author dresses these ideas up differently, but they are the same bad ideas. Everyone frames the arguments differently, but they are the same bad arguments, often little more than poor analogies or dreadful inferences, built on a structure of “facts” that just ain’t so.
I think the distinctive feature of this one is evasiveness. It’s amusing to watch @John_Harshman’s efforts to get SOME kind of coherent statement of the thesis on offer; it is like pulling teeth to get it. My sense is that there is an awareness that all examples will turn up bad when individually scrutinized, so it’s easier to sort of wave in the general direction of ID literature and insist that, with all that shit, there’s got to be a pony in there. The pony seems to more or less consist of the vague assertions that (1) that natural causes don’t explain things very well and (2) there’s so much teleology in there that it’s like Teleotubby land, with Tinky-Winky and the rest of 'em. Never mind that these vague assertions are profoundly insupportable.
At that point, what do you have? A less coherent version of the least honest writers of ID.
And then one has to gape, and wonder, and a dreadful question comes up. Is it possible that there is something worse than the dishonesty of all of the principal ID proponents? Is it possible that there is something earnest and decent, in a way, about the criminal abuse of science in which those people engage, because it is straightforward? The con man who is caught in his game reacts, shuffles backward out of the room, and goes off in search of an easier mark. There is, for that short moment, a kind of recognition between the con man and his intended victim: “I know what you’re doing, and you know what I’m doing, and we understand one another well enough to know that this isn’t happening today.” It’s like a kind of professional respect for the art, dark though that art may be.
But pseudointellectually-reprocessed dishonesty, like the recycling of Axe, Meyer, Dembski et al, is another matter. It has none of the plain earnestness of “I’ve got a deception to sell you, let’s see if you’re dim enough to go for it.” And it leaves one in the position of having to contemplate that its offeror may actually just be that shallow; a mark who, rather than stinging from his loss, has decided to become a broker of the scam.