Home » Culture, News » ID guys’ lasting fame: Their Erdos–Bacon number!

ID guys’ lasting fame: Their Erdos–Bacon number!

Dr. Robert Marks

Robert Marks II, a computer science prof and ID theorist at Baylor, decided to have some fun with the Erdos number. The what? number? Well, let him tell it:

In films, one’s Bacon number is equal to the number of films you are removed from Kevin Bacon. It turns out that Kevin Bacon was in the movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Ben Stein was also in that movie. This means that all of the intelligent design proponents or opponents that appeared in ExpelledExpelled have a Bacon number of two. This includes Bill Dembski, Paul Nelson, Doug Axe, Richard Sternberg, Guillermo Gonzalez, Caroline Crocker, Steve Meyer, Jonathan Wells, David Berlinski, Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, Michael Ruse, yours truly, etc., etc.

File:A small cup of coffee.JPGAnd so?

Well, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics there is the Erdos number, which is equal to the number of papers separating you from the eccentric mathematician Paul Erdos.

Biological Information I have a Erdos number of three. I published with Donald Wunch who published with Haraway who published with Erdos. This means that, since Bill Dembski and I have written a paper together, Bill has an Erdos number of at least four as do all of my fellow co-editors of the recently published Biological Information : Michael Behe, Bruce Gordon, John Sanford and Bill Dembski.

Now here’s where things get exciting!!!

File:Erdos budapest fall 1992.jpg

Erdos, 1992/

One’s Erdos-Bacon number is equal to the sum of your Erdos number and your Bacon number.

As documented, yours truly has an embarrassingly low Erdos–Bacon number of five. (I am considering having it engraved on my tomb stone.) Bill Dembski has an Erdos–Bacon number of six. This is also the Erdos–Bacon number for Carl Sagan!

(It’s also the Erdos–Bacon number for Danica McKellar who played Winnie Cooper in The Wonder Years.)

Michael Behe appeared in Unlocking the Mystery of Life with Bill Dembski and has an Erdos–Bacon number of seven. Remarkably and impressively, Michael’s Erdos–Bacon number is the same as actress Natalie Portman and Colin Firth!

All of the details are on All of the details are on the Wikipedia page. I know because I updated the page yesterday to include Michael.

Ann Gauger recently published with Winston Ewert, Bill and me in a Biocomplexity paper giving her in the Erdos number of at least four. She was in the (great) documentary Metamorphosis with Paul Nelson who was in Expelled. So her Erdos–Bacon number is seven. Unfortunately I can’t find Metamorphosis in the iMBD database. When it’s there, will put her on the Wikipedia page also.

Note: Marks fully expects trolls to tromp in and erase all his work, so consider UD News your source for this timely and astounding information.

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15 Responses to ID guys’ lasting fame: Their Erdos–Bacon number!

  1. Personally, not to knock fun, but I find Dr. Marks foray into video editing to be much more entertaining:

    How Information Theory Is Taking Intelligent Design Mainstream – video

    Darwin as the Pinball Wizard: Talking Probability with Robert J. Marks II – video

    “Darwin or Design” with Dr. Tom Woodward with guest Dr. Robert J. Marks II – video

    AVIDA Challenged in IEEE Paper: I.D. the Future: Graduate Student, Winston Ewert – video

  2. For the nerds (like me) who find this stuff terribly exciting to ponder, here’s a fascinating exploration of a comparable concept: wikipedia degrees of separation:


  3. Hey, you can knock fun if you like, just don’t try to stop people from laughing. Above all, folks, note the appearance of the little coffee cup … Thanks much fort he Bob Marks graphics links.

    It’s not religion that makes Darwinism toast; it’s information theory.

  4. To quote Wikipedia:
    “The Erd?s number (Hungarian pronunciation: [??rdø??]) describes the “collaborative distance” between a person and mathematician Paul Erd?s, as measured by authorship of mathematical papers.”
    Did you contribute to (in?) a mathematical paper?

  5. Ah, I see my mistake. I thought News was still the author. Excuse me.

  6. Clarification: ID guys sometimes give News things to post. It depends on how long and complex it is whether indent is a great idea, so sometimes it’s just the colon and you’re off. Save the link if you;re interested. It’ll soon be gone from Wikipropaganda. ;)

  7. Having never published a mathematical paper, I suppose my number is zero. :(

  8. mmm Barb,,, not to be trivial but,,

    Every actor gets a Kevin Bacon number. Kevin Bacon has a Kevin Bacon number of 0, actors who were in a movie with Kevin Bacon get a Kevin Bacon number of 1, actors who were in a movie with someone who has a Kevin Bacon number 1 get a 2, and so on,,,

  9. Thanks bornagain77 for you kind comments about my videos in your first reply. I do a lot of ID material. More videos are on my site: http://MissIngaNybal.com/

  10. Barb:

    I hope this doesn’t hurt your feelings,, but only Erdos has an Erdos number of zero. If you’ve never published, your Erdos number is undefined (or maybe infinity).


  11. 11

    To be trivial… if you’ve never published a mathematical paper your Erdos number is infinity. Same with your Bacon number if you haven’t been in any movies.

    For the Erdos-Bacon number, lower is better.

  12. Having just drawn what I believe to be a plausibly accurate Venn diagram and noting the minuscule intersection between persons who are academic, religious, humorous, and missing an eyeball, I find the probability that Inga Nybal and/or Robert Marks, II could exist may conceivably be beyond the UPB.

  13. Phinehas,

    Interesting conjecture!

    Let me check…

  14. Inga Nybal, thank you very much for the time and work you put into making those videos as well as your work in ID in general. It is a great asset! To plug another well deserving paper of yours, this following one really blew my socks off and I hope you, and Casey, do a ‘jazzy’ video/interview on it as well so as to make the dramatic point more accessible to those of us not so gifted in mathematics:

    Multiple Overlapping Genetic Codes Profoundly Reduce the Probability of Beneficial Mutation George Montañez 1, Robert J. Marks II 2, Jorge Fernandez 3 and John C. Sanford 4 – published online May 2013
    Excerpt: In the last decade, we have discovered still another aspect of the multi- dimensional genome. We now know that DNA sequences are typically “ poly-functional” [38]. Trifanov previously had described at least 12 genetic codes that any given nucleotide can contribute to [39,40], and showed that a given base-pair can contribute to multiple overlapping codes simultaneously. The first evidence of overlapping protein-coding sequences in viruses caused quite a stir, but since then it has become recognized as typical. According to Kapronov et al., “it is not unusual that a single base-pair can be part of an intricate network of multiple isoforms of overlapping sense and antisense transcripts, the majority of which are unannotated” [41]. The ENCODE project [42] has confirmed that this phenomenon is ubiquitous in higher genomes, wherein a given DNA sequence routinely encodes multiple overlapping messages, meaning that a single nucleotide can contribute to two or more genetic codes. Most recently, Itzkovitz et al. analyzed protein coding regions of 700 species, and showed that virtually all forms of life have extensive overlapping information in their genomes [43].
    Conclusions: Our analysis confirms mathematically what would seem intuitively obvious – multiple overlapping codes within the genome must radically change our expectations regarding the rate of beneficial mutations. As the number of overlapping codes increases, the rate of potential beneficial mutation decreases exponentially, quickly approaching zero. Therefore the new evidence for ubiquitous overlapping codes in higher genomes strongly indicates that beneficial mutations should be extremely rare. This evidence combined with increasing evidence that biological systems are highly optimized, and evidence that only relatively high-impact beneficial mutations can be effectively amplified by natural selection, lead us to conclude that mutations which are both selectable and unambiguously beneficial must be vanishingly rare. This conclusion raises serious questions. How might such vanishingly rare beneficial mutations ever be sufficient for genome building? How might genetic degeneration ever be averted, given the continuous accumulation of low impact deleterious mutations?

  15. This is a pretty awesome paper. Bob says the idea came from John Sanford was one of the co-authors. Sanford is a really brilliant guy. Bob says he’s the one that should do the podcast.