When I wrote The Design Matrix, I wanted to contribute something to the debate about intelligent design and evolution – an intellectually honest approach. So let me see how well the book holds up against the 10 signs of intellectual honesty:
1. Do not overstate the power of your argument. The Design Matrix clearly does not overstate its case. The book takes a very cautious and modest approach, as can be seen from some of its reviews. The book does not berate or ridicule the reader for not agreeing with the arguments.
2. Show a willingness to publicly acknowledge that reasonable alternative viewpoints exist. The Design Matrix is built around this very acknowledgement. In fact, this serves as the central metaphor of the approach – the Rabbit/Duck illustration explored in Chapter 6.
4. Be willing to publicly acknowledge where your argument is weak. In many places, the book candidly acknowledges weak points when inferring design: I acknowledge that humans have a tendency to project patterns on data that do not exist; I acknowledge that random variation and natural selection can behave as a designer-mimic; I take common evidence for design (the Code and the Machines) and instead of offering it as something powerful, I acknowledge they amount to mere clues; I acknowledge the subjective dimension to the scoring system.
3. Be willing to publicly acknowledge and question one’s own assumptions and biases. 5. Be willing to publicly acknowledge when you are wrong. 6. Demonstrate consistency. All of these points are built into the scoring system –the Design Matrix – where people are encouraged to put their cards on the table by assigning a numerical score to open-ended criteria and then defending that score. In fact, all 10 signs of intellectually honesty come into play here, as scores will only resonate if people perceived the scorer to have a track record of intellectually honesty. Not to mention that the act of scoring can help others determine if intellectual dishonesty is in play.
7. Address the argument instead of attacking the person making the argument. The book does not attack any person.
8. When addressing an argument, do not misrepresent it. The book does not misrepresent any argument (to my knowledge). Of course, because of the limitations of space that come with any book, it is possible that someone will claim I did not address some particular topic in enough detail and thus may have missed a point or possible explanation.
9. Show a commitment to critical thinking. I tried to rely on critical thinking as much as possible (although I am sure their is room for improvement). The book clearly draws upon multiple mainstream sources as judged from the reference sections. It weighs the evidence carefully, while trying to examine the “big picture” in a way that is on the look out for multiple cause and effects and it doesn’t engage in any “thought stopping sensationalism.”
10. Be willing to publicly acknowledge when a point or criticism is good. The book clearly acknowledges the good criticisms of irreducible complexity. Furthermore, the book uses several points from both critics Richard Dawkins and Ken Miller. It does not attempt to debunk these points, but instead builds on them.
While the book is not perfect, I think most fair-minded readers will acknowledge that it makes serious steps toward the realm of intellectual honesty.