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Banned Item of the Year: Dr. Robert Marks’ Evolutionary Informatics Website

censorshiplogo.jpgLast year John West nominated Of Pandas and People as Banned Book of the Year after the ACLU tried to have it banned from Dover Science Classrooms. We are again celebrating Banned Books Week, and it is fitting to note that Baylor University is also observing Banned Book Week.

Baylor’s Banned Books Week events page states, “What do authors Harper Lee, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck and J.K. Rowling have in common? They have all written books that were challenged and banned by libraries in the United States.” Although his work in question here is not a book, Dr. Robert Marks also has something in common with those authors: someone has banned his ideas. As we have recounted extensively here on Evolution News & Views, a Baylor University administrator originally ordered Dr. Marks to “disconnect this web site immediately” because he had “received several concerned messages this week about an [ID the Future Podcast] interview and web site dealing with evolutionary computing associated ID.” Dr. Marks’ website discussing his research that challenges Darwinian evolution was then banned from Baylor webspace without his knowledge or permission, and Baylor has yet to restore the website to its server. Thus, I would like to nominate Robert Marks’ Evolutionary Informatics Website as the banned item of the year for 2007.

Banned Books week is supposed to be a celebration of tolerance and diversity, so in that spirit it seems fitting to discuss some of the research papers that Dr. Marks formerly had posted on his Baylor Evolutionary Informatics Lab website:

  • William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II, “Conservation of Information in Search: Measuring the Cost of Success”:
    Abstract: Conservation of information theorems indicate that any search algorithm performs on average as well as random search without replacement unless it takes advantage of problem-specific information about the search target or the search-space structure. Combinatorics shows that even a moderately sized search requires problem-specific information to be successful. Three measures to characterize the information required for successful search are (1) endogenous information, which measures the difficulty of finding a target using random search; (2) exogenous information, which measures the difficulty that remains in finding a target once a search takes advantage of problem-specific information; and (3) active information, which, as the difference between endogenous and exogenous information, measures the contribution of problem-specific information for successfully finding a target. This paper develops a methodology based on these information measures to gauge the effectiveness with which problem-specific information facilitates successful search. It then applies this methodology to various search tools widely used in evolutionary search.
  • William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II, “Active Information in Evolutionary Search”:
    Abstract: In his critique of intelligent design, Häggström [12] claims that the No Free Lunch Theorem (NFLT) [10, 24, 30], properly understood, poses no obstacle to biological evolution. He therefore rejects claims to the contrary [8]. To prove his point, Häggström cites several examples of evolutionary optimization. Yet his examples prove the opposite. As he admits, “In almost all concrete optimization problems, we have some prior information….” Far from showing that the NFLT places no restrictions on evolution, Häggström’s examples show that the success of evolutionary searches depends on prior information concerning target location and search space structure. Consistent with the NFLT, this prior information, now increasingly referred to as “active information,” is always external to the search and thus never a free lunch.

This research was formerly hosted at Dr. Marks’s webspace at Baylor University under the URL Try clicking on this link now, and this is what you get:

It seems that it was too much for Baylor University to allow this research to be hosted under its webspace. It’s been well over a month now and the website still hasn’t gone back up. RIP Baylor Evolutionary Informatics Lab.

RIP Baylor Evolutionary Informatics Lab

Casey Luskin

Associate Director and Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.



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