There “They” go again!

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By Russell Durbin

Veteran politician turned science expert Bruce Chapman, founder and president of the Discovery Institute (strategic command center of the “intelligent design” creationism movement), has written an essay that showcases the propaganda techniques of the IDC movement. Herewith a line by line analysis.

First they said that only ignorant rubes doubted Darwin. One was meant to recall the mob scene in the film of “Inherit the Wind.” The image is trite, but it works. However, when Phillip Johnson, a distinguished professor of legal evidence at Berkeley, came along with Darwin on Trial, they changed their line and said that, while he is an intellectual, he is not qualified to speak because he is not a scientist.

You know you’re in for a strawman argument when it starts out with “they said”. Who are “they”? Why not let “them” speak for “them”selves? There is a larger issue here, though, in which DI propaganda is creepily reminiscent of the Soviet style: Chapman tells you what “they” say, and why “they” say it, even what “they” are going to say next. But, as in so many DI disinformation dumps, no links or references are provided to let readers judge for themselves. Only links and references to other DI propaganda pieces are supplied, thus making for a hermetically sealed world of misinformation, unconstrained by any need to compare notes with the reality-based community.

The image Chapman seems to be conjuring here is that “they” continuously change “their” line because the creationists–excuse me, Darwin skeptics–keep proving “them” wrong. (It’s not hard to imagine that the original draft of this piece included moustachio-twirling and “Curses! Foiled again!” quotes.) It may be a great tool for arming the troops with a Kevlar shield of smugness, but it lacks any connection to the real world. The tactic is trite, but it works - if the goal is cheerleading rather than edification.

In fact, there is no shortage of evidence to support the notion that “doubting Darwin” does correlate inversely with education. There is also abundant evidence that Phillip Johnson, just as his lack of any scientific training and credentials suggest, is eminently unqualified to speak on subjects scientific.

Then came Behe and Dembski and other scientists with stellar academic credentials, so then the rebuke became: They are only a handful. “Almost every reputable scientist in the world” accepts Darwin’s theory.

First of all, in what sense is Dembski a scientist at all? And who are all these “other scientists? And in what sense are their credentials “stellar”? More stellar, say, than Duane Gish, John Baumgardner, or Russell Humphreys, who have been peddling young earth creationism for decades? Leaving all that aside, though, Chapman merely mentions the names and (allegedly stellar) credentials. Nothing about the substance of their work. Certainly nothing about the numerous resounding refutations of their ideas, or the lack of any positive reviews by competent scientists in the fields being (mis)represented. Dembski’s treatises purport to prove evolution mathematically impossible. Are there any reviews by reputable biologists or mathematicians? What do they say? Behe’s bestseller “Darwin’s Black Box” purports to demonstrate that biological structures are “irreducibly complex”, and therefore could not have evolved. This argument has been so thoroughly debunked that Behe has now retreated to the position that if there is any biological structure for which a mutation-by-mutation account of its history, back to the origin of life, is not proved, miraculous intervention remains the preferred explanation. In reality, it is not “they” who are on the defensive. Again, we see Chapman’s rhetorical style, perhaps cribbed from George Lucas: No need to refer to the actual substance of the dispute, just broad strokes indicating the brave and virtuous nature of the Rebels, and the cowardly and dishonest nature of the entrenched minions of the Imperial Order.

When, in reply, Discovery Institute produced, first 100, and now over 400 scientists brave enough to confront their colleagues with a “Dissent from Darwin” statement, the Darwinist judges said, Well, we still have far more scientists who support evolution (as if that had been the issue).

Whoa! There “they” go again! Who are these Darwinist judges? Where did they say or imply that “the issue” was the magnitude of the supporters/dissenters ratio? Perhaps Chapman is referring here to Project Steve. Beyond its primary goal of parodizing these ridiculous lists, the point of Project Steve was two-fold:

  • that science is not done by vote or petition; whether the DI recruits 100, 1000, or 100,000 supporters, that doesn’t make their “theory” a theory. And
  • more to the point, unlike the “Dissent from Darwin” statement, the “Project Steve” statement actually states something of substance.

With what bold statement do the DI’s supporters confront their colleagues?

We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.

Hey, I’m skeptical of such claims, too. (It’s hard to deny, for instance, that the epochal endosymbiotic event in which the ancestral mitochondrion threw in its lot with the ancestral nuclear genome had a pretty big role in the complexity of life. And I’m by no means certain of the relative contributions of natural selection, sexual selection and neutral drift.) Would the DI welcome my signature, even if I expressly forbid its use to imply support for “intelligent design”? Perhaps the people that are not skeptical of such claims are the “Darwinian fundamentalists” we’re always being warned about. (Hard to know, since the term is rarely, if ever, defined.) If so, I’ve never met one. In fact, I suspect signing the DI’s statement has nothing to do with science, and everything to do with supporting its political agenda.

By contrast, the Project Steve statement reads:

Evolution is a vital, well-supported, unifying principle of the biological sciences, and the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the idea that all living things share a common ancestry. Although there are legitimate debates about the patterns and processes of evolution, there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism in its occurrence. It is scientifically inappropriate and pedagogically irresponsible for creationist pseudoscience, including but not limited to “intelligent design,” to be introduced into the science curricula of our nation’s public schools.

Notice the difference? The Steve statement actually has some substance to it. Where any scientist could, in good conscience, sign the “Dissent from Darwin” statement (that is, if they didn’t suspect the DI would be misrepresenting them as supporters of IDC), would the DI supporters be comfortable signing the Steve statement? Coincidentally (?) the contrast between the two statements is very much analogous to the difference between a theory that makes testable predictions and one that equally accommodates, ex post facto, all outcomes.

Then they added: If the Darwin-doubters and design advocates want to be taken seriously they must publish in peer-reviewed science journals.

“Then”? Sounds like a chronology; sounds like “they” are, yet again, moving the goalposts, no? Is there any evidence to support this timeline? I submit that the criteria for the credibility of a challenge to a widely accepted theory have remained pretty much the same for several decades. A minimum requirement would be a substantial presence in reputable, peer reviewed, professional science journals. To be teaching high school kids anything else as science is the educational equivalent of peddling untested drugs.

Never mind that the Darwinists work hard to blackball on principle any heretics whose work is submitted at such journals.

“The Darwinists”? That must be “they” again. Who are these shadowy figures? Let’s examine the DI’s facile use of this convenient handle. In this context, of course, “Darwinist” denotes critics of ID in general (i.e. virtually all scientists) and in particular those “entrenched dogmatists” who supposedly maintain a stranglehold on every major scientific journal and academic institution in the world. But when trying to create the impression that “the controversy” they want to teach is a scientific one, rather than a political/religious one, the IDists take advantage of several narrower and more technical uses of the term, sometimes found in the scientific literature:

  • It was used by Stephen Jay Gould, for example, to distinguish Darwin’s original conception of continuous gradual genetic change from (the probably more realistic) view of jerky transition between more or less steady states of quasi-equilibrium.
  • It is used by Lynn Margulis, for example, to distinguish the classic view of exclusively vertical transmission of genetic information (i.e. from parent to offspring), from one that recognizes the signal importance of endosymbiosis (i.e. physical and genetic fusion of organisms of distinct ancestry). It is also used more generally to distinguish the classical view from one that recognizes important role of lateral gene transfer (of which endosymbiosis would be just the most dramatic example). It is important to bear in mind that none of the mechanisms of lateral gene transfer could have been anticipated in Darwin’s time.
  • It is used to stress the difference between a view that ascribes genetic modification exclusively to natural selection and one that envisions a significant role for neutral drift.

Call me cynical, but I suspect the DI knows that when they use words like “Darwinism” or “Darwinian” in, say, a school board setting or a public opinion poll, these are not the senses in which the word is perceived. The word “duplicitous” comes to mind.

In any case, what evidence is there that “they” are any harder on evolution skeptics than, say, on astrologers or UFO theorists?

Yet, even in the face of such tactics, more and more Darwin critics and design proponents began to break through in peer-reviewed journals.

Let’s list those breakthroughs. Let’s see… there was the Meyer article. And Behe & Snoke, and… um… gosh, what are the others? Leaving aside the suspicious circumstances surrounding the editorial acceptance of the Meyer article, the presence in one obscure journal of one contribution from a philosopher (who has signed a creationist loyalty oath) hardly qualifies as the substantial presence in the scientific literature needed to seriously challenge a well accepted theory.

The mathematical exercise published by Behe and Snoke is fun to play with, and might serve as the basis for a graduate level discussion, but with its many questionable assumptions and its lack of impact in the world of biology, it hardly can be said to present a significant challenge to current theory. Certainly it is not the stuff of high school curricula. Moreover, the fact that it was published should raise doubts about the “blackballing” charge Chapman levels.

So the Darwinists (as in the Sternberg case at the Smithsonian) attacked the journal editors who allowed such outrages to occur. In the case of the Smithsonian, critics with relatively unimpressive scientific credentials besmirched an editor who has two doctorates in evolutionary biology.

“Attacked”? I guess it would be asking too much to supply a link or a reference, so readers might judge the merits of the case for themselves. “Relatively unimpressive”? Wait a minute. Is this not the very same essay that implied that “they” (those dastardly Darwinists) unfairly dismissed Phillip Johnson’s criticisms because he’s not a scientist? And now Sternberg’s critics (scientists all, I believe) are “relatively unimpressive” …because they hold fewer doctorates? How about Bruce Chapman, the author of this diatribe? How many science degrees does he boast? How about addressing some of the substance of the charges, rather than number of degrees of the principals involved?

Meanwhile, the Darwinists decided to try to dispatch the challenge to Darwin by defining it out of existence, especially at state school boards. They just pronounced it “unscientific”. That required, however, a change in the definition of science.

“The Darwinists”? “decided”? “the challenge to Darwin”? If we can manage not to be distracted by three (3!) weasel words in one sentence–“Darwinists (defined as .…?) decided (in a secret strategy meeting, perhaps?) to dispatch the challenge to Darwin (that “challenge” being…?)”–we might wonder: who is redefining science? Perhaps the most venerable and prestigious general scientific journal in the world is Nature. How do you suppose they arrived at that title? Was it, perhaps, because Natural and Supernatural Phenomena was considered just too cumbersome?

At this point Chapman devotes a long paragraph to the tussle over definitions of science “traditionally” held by school boards. Frankly, who cares? As long as the point is not to leave a door ajar for sneaking in supernatural explanations for natural phenomena. Because that would be a radical revision of the scientific enterprise, at least relative to the last two centuries or so.

So then the Darwinists retreated to the latest line of defense: If the Darwin dissenters and intelligent design advocates are to be taken seriously they should be doing lab science; a.k.a., “real science”.

(emphasis added)

Again, notice the imaginative timeline. When was having actual data and doing actual research not considered essential in science? Is there any evidence to support the notion that this is some kind of “retreat”?

As usual, this standard does not apply to work by Darwinists, only to their adversaries.

As evidenced by…? Note, again, another important weapon in the IDC armamentarium: the the PowerWhine: equal parts “poor me” and unsubstantiated allegation.

Also, as with the peer reviewed science journals, the Darwinists are prepared to do all they can to prevent dissenters from getting lab space and to keep those who do lab experiments from publishing their results.

As evidenced by…?

In other words, the Darwinists’ supposed standards once again are hypocritical.

Supposed standards? Chapman tells us (with the usual lack of any references to the real world) that “the Darwinists are prepared to do all they can” (nothing specific, just “all they can”), and–even though we don’t know what nefarious schemes “they” have up “their” sleeves–we can state without fear of contradiction that they are applied selectively to “Darwin skeptics”. (Parapsychology and crystal power advocates can expect an indulgent wink and a nod.)

All that notwithstanding, it will shortly be known that Darwin doubters and design advocates are indeed doing lab science.

That’s great. We’re all waiting with bated breath. Now, just as soon as that lab science is actually done, and the results of it actually have any bearing on biology, and the resulting theory has any significant presence in the actual literature of biology, by all means, present your case to the textbook writers and school boards. You will have earned their attention.

So, to prevent exposure of the incapacity of their theory,

Incapacity? To do what? Offer explanations, mechanisms, for how things came to be? Make predictions about as yet unmade observations? As opposed to capacity of IDC to do those things?

…what is the next test the Darwinists are going to come up with? Will it not be a religious test that explicitly examines supposed motives rather than evidence or logic; that says that any scientist who is both religious in his personal views and a critic of Darwin in science is, by that combination, banished from debate on the topic of evolution? How far against the tradition of scientific freedom will the defenders go to defend their turf?

Hard to say. Lord knows “they” have no scruples. But is it really intolerant to question whether, say, a Young Earth Creationist is as qualified to teach biology or geology as the next person? Should Jonathan Wells’s well publicized statement that he undertook graduate studies after prayerful consultation with Rev. Sun Myung Moon with the express purpose of “destroying Darwinism”, be considered irrelevant to the credibility of his “challenges” to evolution? I don’t know. Would it be deplorable (anti)religious bigotry to be influenced, in the choice of a physician, by whether he is a disciple of Mary Baker Eddy?

The Emperor who had no clothes made a terrible mistake in allowing just anyone who looked at him to form an opinion on his nudity. He should have required any oral comments on his new suit to be conducted solely by people holding Certificates of Official Observation-and made sure that none of those was issued. He also should have had his minions investigate and publicize any unorthodox personal views or associations that the little boy in the story had, and any skeletons in the closet of the boy’s family. One can’t be too thorough about such things if one wants to avoid embarrassment.

See, the “Emperor” is “the Darwinian establishment”. “Certificates of Official Observation” are advanced degrees and academic credentials. The “little boy” is Jonathan Wells, Stephen Meyers, and company. The “unorthodox personal views and associations” would be, for instance, being an ordained minister in Rev. Moon’s Unification Church, say, or having signed a fundamentalist Christian college’s loyalty oath promising to hew to to the divine special creation of man.

Well, let’s turn this analogy around. What “clothes” do the DI fellows use to disguise their predisposition to reject evolution? Why should we not examine the scientific objectivity and bona fides of a group:

Russell Durbin is a virologist and molecular biologist in Columbus, Ohio.

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37 Comments

The Emperor who had no clothes made a terrible mistake in allowing just anyone who looked at him to form an opinion on his nudity.

It is so easy to tear apart an analogy like this. The Emperor made no mistake in this sense. He believed that he was wearing clothes (though invisible clothes). The boy had made an honest statement that cut through the ridiculous assertions of the Intelligent Desi… err… the tailers by showing that the clothing (much like IDC) had no substance.

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Very intresting to read, great job tearing it apart.

At that site it says:

Intelligent Design is an intellectual movement that includes a scientific research program for investigating intelligent causes and that challenges naturalistic explanations of origins which currently drive science education and research.

Okay, alittle closer..

scientific research program for investigating intelligent causes

What the hell is that? Intelligent causes? How the bloody hell do you use science to research intelligent causes. Sounds like a dead end to me. I’m surprised ID gets called ‘science’ by some people.

challenges naturalistic explanations of origins which currently drive science education and research.

No branch of science is set up primarily to challenge another branch. You follow where the proof leads you, whether it challenges it or agrees with it you go to the truth of it. You don’t say “challenge” as a main philosophy.

That would be like biology’s main philosophy is to “Challenge the notion that live was created by an intelligent designer”. Its not.

I don’t see how ID can be classified as science in any way. None.

I don’t see how ID can be classified as science in any way.

It’s easy; someone like Chapman simply sits down at a keyboard and types it.

As I’ve noted before, they are playing a different game, a game in which reasoned and evidentiary support is not needed in order to make a claim.

The ID, DD, and C gang (sounds like a railroad) are not interested in science as a source of understanding but as a strawman (woman?) to buttress their effort at protecting (and generating new) sources of revenue, controlling the human search for understanding, protecting power bases that exploit fear and ignorance, avoid the rigors of attaining knowledge of the natural world, and limiting freedom on inquiry.

It is about power, authority, and (cynically) money, and its exclusive preservation by an unexamined elite. They have no rigorious standards of research, no peer review, and no accountability to a profession. It often appears as scholasticism writ post modern. How many designers can dance on a flagellum?

challenges naturalistic explanations of origins

OK, so ID is religious objections to evolution.

Got it.

Are they willing to testify to that in Dover?

It’s easy; someone like Chapman simply sits down at a keyboard and types it.

And then types it again and again and again.

Using this proven technique, a lot of people were lead to doubt Kerry ever went to Viet Nam in the military.

Although it has other names, how about a new one, “Swift boat creationism”.

Something’s missing.

The Discovery Institute should have its own laboratory where real scientists conduct research into or based on ID. They need lab benches with rows of bottles, electronic equipment, and DI post-docs churning out scientific work that proves ID.

They should have a separate but related mathematical department, with summer interns calculating the specified complexity of various organisims/systems/whatever.

They need their own peer-reviewed journal of ID research, with work reviewed by the 400 scientists on the “Dissent from Darwin” list.

I don’t understand why all these things don’t exist. Maybe it’s a funding problem - they can’t attact any wealthy donors to support such a lab. Or maybe there’s another problem.

Russell Durbin Wrote:

To be teaching high school kids anything else as science is the educational equivalent of peddling untested drugs.

IMO, that, more than any religious or political aspect, is what makes ID so popular among nonscientists. Note how, whatever the “big bad drug companies” offer is never good enough, but how any “all natural” alternative automatically earns at least a “what’s the harm?” no matter how untested or how little quality control it undergoes.

Same for evolution: the “Darwinist conspiracy” is suspect until every last detail of biological history is filled in, but any “non-natural” (note the irony) alternative deserves “equal time” however useless and misleading.

Most people don’t notice the double standard, and those who do, more often than not, try to make excuses for it.

Or perhaps the funds are spent on higher priority activities than lab work and theoretical investigations - like churning out propaganda.

support such a lab

I’m sure that just the other year they claimed to have such a lab (or be raising money for it). Perhaps the info was reported here somewhere (or over on IIDB).

…the Darwinists work hard to blackball on principle any heretics whose work is submitted at such journals.

Is it still the case that nobody has produced a listing (or better yet, the texts) of ID-creationist articles submitted to & rejected by peer-reviewed journals?

If there are such articles, why doesn’t Chapman find some space for them on his web site?

Is it still the case that nobody has produced a listing (or better yet, the texts) of ID-creationist articles submitted to & rejected by peer-reviewed journals?

I’ve seen two answers to this question. The DI answer is, why bother submitting research when rejection is guaranteed anyway. But another answer (actually voiced by Behe among others) is that the peers are not the target audience anyway, and publishing in book form, the books to be placed in the Praise Jesus section of the bookstores, reaches those who can most benefit by their contents (read: most likely to contribute to the Cause).

The Discovery Institute should have its own laboratory where real scientists conduct research into or based on ID. They need lab benches with rows of bottles, electronic equipment, and DI post-docs churning out scientific work that proves ID.

I don’t understand why they haven’t purchased these props for prominent display in their literature. They are missing a real opportunity here. Their claim to have real scientists producing real pro-ID science would probably enjoy the verisimilitude.

But another answer (actually voiced by Behe among others) is that the peers are not the target audience anyway, and publishing in book form, the books to be placed in the Praise Jesus section of the bookstores, reaches those who can most benefit by their contents (read: most likely to contribute to the Cause).

By publishing in book form, you can also get your book placed in the “Science” section of book stores without the bother of peer-review or any other messy details.

Mr. Butler asks:

Is it still the case that nobody has produced a listing (or better yet, the texts) of ID-creationist articles submitted to & rejected by peer-reviewed journals?

If there are such articles, why doesn’t Chapman find some space for them on his web site?

What you’ll get instead is a list of articles which are claimed to be accepted by peer-reviewed journals and which support intelligent design. Then they’ll argue you are just out of the loop on what’s going on in science.

For example, this blog offers a list of “peer-reviewed” articles on intelligent design: http://dualisticdissension.blogspot[…]against.html

Here is the list, to save you the trouble of clicking over there (though I wouldn’t object if you were to go over there and give them an educated reply):

(1) Lack of Peer-Reviewed Literature

The first of this litany [of critiques against ID] involves questions over what constitutes science. Do national journal editors deem what is scientific and what is not? Or can empirical evidence and objective thinking do the job? At any rate, criticism (1) is already moot now that ID has been published in peer-reviewed journals. The list includes but is not limited to the following:

D.D. Axe, “Extreme Functional Sensitivity to Conservative Amino Acid Changes on Enzyme Exteriors,” Journal of Molecular Biology

D.D. Axe, “Estimating the Prevalence of Protein Sequences Adopting Functional Enzyme Folds,” Journal of Molecular Biology

S.C. Meyer, “The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories,” Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington

M.J. Behe and D.W. Snoke, “Simulating Evolution by Gene Duplication of Protein Features That Require Multiple Amino Acid Residues,” Protein Science

W.-E. Loennig & H. Saedler, “Chromosome Rearrangements and Transposable Elements,” Annual Review of Genetics

D.K.Y. Chiu & T.H. Lui, “Integrated Use of Multiple Interdependent Patterns for Biomolecular Sequence Analysis,” International Journal of Fuzzy Systems

M.J. Denton & J.C. Marshall, “The Laws of Form Revisited,” Nature; M.J. Denton, J.C. Marshall & M. Legge, (2002) “The Protein Folds as Platonic Forms: New Support for the pre-Darwinian Conception of Evolution by Natural Law,” Journal of Theoretical Biology

J. Barham, “Biofunctional Realism and the Problem of Teleology,” Evolution and Cognition

J. Wells, “Do Centrioles Generate a Polar Ejection Force?”, Rivista di Biologia

G. Gonzolez, “Habitable Zones in the Universe”, Astrobiology Magazine

Specific criticisms of these papers (or authors) aside, the notion that “ID is without any peer-reviewed publications” is just plain false.

The list is just as I found it, with the exception that I copied from the comments the version that includes the names of the journals in which they appeared. (It’s really difficult to get a straight citation out of ID people – it’s a syndrome I’ve run into from intercollegiate debate teams caught falsifying data, from students cheating on essay assignments, from liable corporate entities trying to avoid paying for injuries they’ve caused, and from criminals accused of crimes they were very guilty of. But of course, I draw no conclusions and cast no aspersions. IDists may have good cause to be in that crowd. Jesus supped with tax collectors, after all …)

Ten articles are listed – that’s about half the content of one weekly issue of Nature, or Science, or any other reputable journal. Assuming each of those articles to be exactly what the blog author claims them to be, this would not be enough to justify putting any criticism of Darwin in any textbook, let alone to justify a sentence on ID.

Assuming each of those articles to be exactly what the blog author claims them to be…

would, of course, be a bad assumption.

I’ve read several of the listed papers; not a one of those mentions “intelligent design”.

Comment #40716 Posted by Air Bear on August 1, 2005 08:20 AM (e) (s) Something’s missing. The Discovery Institute should have its own laboratory where real scientists conduct research into or based on ID. They need lab benches with rows of bottles, electronic equipment, and DI post-docs churning out scientific work that proves ID. I don’t understand why all these things don’t exist. Maybe it’s a funding problem - they can’t attact any wealthy donors to support such a lab. Or maybe there’s another problem.

That other problem could be fraud. Without wealthy, religious, nutcase donors what does that leave but the government?

Comment #39755 Posted by Ed Darrell on July 27, 2005 12:20 PM (e) (s) …By the way, it would be a federal crime for most astrobiologists to falsify their results, since many of them work with a tinge of federal grant money – which is one more reason why, I suspect, most intelligent design advocates rarely set foot in a laboratory: They don’t want their work to be scrutinized for fraud.

Hmm.…I’ve read some of these, and I’m not sure they really reflect I.D. I think in some cases, they are disingenuous uses of articles without that intent. In others, they are acceptable (though flawed) science, but can’t really bolster the conclusions of I.D.

Four I’m familiar with:

Meyer’s paper is a freaking joke, published in a joke journal, already mired in controversy. For a post-mortem of how it got published, see here: http://www.geocities.com/lclane2/pbsw.html

D.D. Axe, “Extreme Functional Sensitivity to Conservative Amino Acid Changes on Enzyme Exteriors,” Journal of Molecular Biology Basically, in Axe’s paper he mutagenized the hell out of the exterior of a protein. Many of the mutations rendered the enzyme non-functional. My take on this is it means there are a lot of evolutionary dead ends. He does not conclude evolution is not feasible/at play in the papers.

Behe’s Paper presents an algorithmic model of evolution in a haploid, non-recombinant. (most eukaryotes are diploid, sexual) His conclusion: evolution is too slow to account for multiresidue mutations required for novel function. BUT-from his conclusion: “We strongly emphasize that results bearing on the efficiency of this one pathway as a conduit for Darwinian evolution say little or nothing about the efficiency of other possible pathways. Thus, for example, the present study that examines the evolution of MR protein features by point mutation in duplicate genes does not indicate whether evolution of such features by other processes (such as recombination or insertion/deletion mutations) would be more or less efficient.”

Loennig and Sadler’s review on transposons and evolution: disputes “constant” evolution with a more punctuated-equilibrium model, and then briefly goes into ID with some sometimes-veiled sometimes pretty apparent references to a designer. I should note this is a REVIEW, containing no new data of its own, and likely not peer reviewed. My Annual Review published in the 2005 Annual Reviews in Biophysics and Biomolecular Structure, was copy edited for grammer, etc., but only got a perfunctory ‘Review’ by the issue editor.

Sadlers himself is not an IDer Research interest (from his website): http://www2.mpiz-koeln.mpg.de/~impr[…]-profile.htm 1) Leaf-like sepals, a morphological novelty in the evolution of solanaceous species.

Loennig’s role in this sparked a controversy. The Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne has removed the detailed description of ‘intelligent design’ from its website, following complaints from scientists that it was inconsistent with the laboratory’s scientific mission.

Nature 416, 250; 2002 The article, which was posted by Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, a theorist at the institute, discusses the idea that an intelligent force must be responsible for the origin of the Universe and for the diversity of life forms. Known as intelligent design, this theory rejects natural selection, and has been portrayed by its opponents as a ‘front’ for creationism.

Earlier this month, Peter Gruss, president of the Max Planck Society, asked the four directors of the Cologne institute to provide a scientific justification for Lönnig’s pages. Lönnig posted the material five years ago, and the site has since received over 35,000 hits. A disclaimer identifying the article as a personal opinion was added in 2001, following earlier complaints.

Here’s a pretty nice summary/refutation of ID I like: http://arjournals.annualreviews.org[…]70802.110400

Robert–

With the possible exception of the Leonning stuff, we’ve dissected all of those here on PT in the past.

You can read about the Meyer paper here. Long story short, it’s garbage. The journal it was published in is not a “joke” journal by any means, but it’s an obscure journal that specializes in marine invertebrate cladistics, and was not an appropriate venue for Meyer’s paper. They got the paper in with the help of a sympathetic editor. We had lots of additional posts about it which you can find with a search.

The Behe/Snokes paper can be read about here. Long story short, the model they present is about as far off from reality as possible. It may be worthwhile as a demonstration that when you use improper assumptions, then it looks like things can’t evolve, but it doesn’t pose a legitimate challenge to gene duplication as we know it.

The Axe paper is discussed here. Simply put, it doesn’t say what the IDists pretend it says.

Using this proven technique, a lot of people were lead to doubt Kerry ever went to Viet Nam in the military.

Well, here’s another destructive meme that’s spreading, in part a consequence of replacing proofreaders with spellcheckers. The past tense for “lead” is “led”, not “lead”. This is particularly irksome because it introduces a new ambiguity into written communications.

On Kerry: I think most people believe that he went to VietNam, but many seem to believe, contrary to reason, that he went and got shot at as part of a grand plan to win the presidency 35 years later. And less absurd but still false beliefs are widespread, such as that Kerry is the most liberal Senator (more like 24th out of 100), that he flip-flopped on the $87M (he voted for a funded version of the bill and against an unfunded version), that he lied to the Senate about atrocities in VietNam (he quoted other soldiers as to what they had seen, and those atrocities are well documented), and so on and so on. And of course many Americans think that Al Gore lied about being a model for Love Story (Erich Segal, Gore’s college roommate along with Tommy Lee Jones, has confirmed that he was, and anyway Gore was only referring the a newspaper article he had read to that effect) and that he lied about inventing the internet (he in fact said that, while in Congress he “took the initiative in creating the internet”, which is true as attested to by many of the people involved, including Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn, inventors of the TCP/IP protocol on which the internet is based). And so it goes. Sadly, those who bought into these myths helped pave the way for a breakdown of the wall between church and state and a White House that is generally hostile to science, especially science that doesn’t support its policy positions. With O’Connor being replaced by hard-line conservative Roberts and John Paul Stevens about to keel over, we’re looking to very troubled times ahead for science and science education.

Ten articles are listed – that’s about half the content of one weekly issue of Nature, or Science, or any other reputable journal.

Oddly enough, NONE of these ten articles, or anythign ELSE ever written by any IDer or IDer-wanna-be, has ever answered the most simple and basic of questions —– what the heck ***IS*** the scientific theory of ID, and how can we test it using the scientific method?

I wonder why IDers are so awfully reluctant to answer that simple question . … .

Hmm.…I’ve read some of these, and I’m not sure they really reflect I.D.

Nor is anyone else sure, since, for some odd reason, the IDers refuse to tell us just what the hell ID *is*. If we don’t know what it *is*, then we don’t know who or what reflects it.

I suspect that is deliberate.

With O’Connor being replaced by hard-line conservative Roberts and John Paul Stevens about to keel over, we’re looking to very troubled times ahead for science and science education.

With all due respect, if the fudnies gain real politicla power, I think “science and science education” will be the least of our problems.

Comment #40703 by maine yankee:

It is about power, authority, and (cynically) money, and its exclusive preservation by an unexamined elite. They have no rigorious standards of research, no peer review, and no accountability to a profession. It often appears as scholasticism writ post modern. How many designers can dance on a flagellum?

I agree. I think those people cynically exploit the beliefs of others with a carefully crafted message revolving around persecution and belief.

I tried to look up those articles. I know the one was placed by a trojan horse editor who was relieved of his post for playing games with the peer-review process and accepting the article. I know that others have been completely destroyed by those who are actually trained in the subjects.

At least one of the others didn’t seem that it really related to ID.

Here’s the concluding sentence from the Lönnig & Saedler review:

However, in the face of the numerous scientific problems still unresolved in the context of the origin of species and higher systematic categories, we would probably be well advised to continue to welcome the plethora of different and diverging ideas and hypotheses on the origin of life in all its forms as well as to remain open-minded on real results of investigations, wherever they may lead.

(No mention anywhere of “intelligent design”). Is this the sort of “challenge to orthodoxy” that Chapman supposes to cause “Darwinists” quake in their boots?

Guess again, Bruce.

So, here is an idea:

Choose any amount of numbers (voting for each number only once) between 1-9, where 10 is a dissent.

1-9 refer to particular points of a statement, of which you need not agree with all of it, so long as you agree with a part of it.

As long as you choose any number between 1-9, you will be listed in support of the study, rather than 10. So long as you are listed in support of the statement, any particular agreement (supporing 1, 5, and 9, but not 2-4 & 6-8) will be listed only by your name, so that you support the statement.

In this way, we will build a database of people who agree with us (even if they don’t) so as to prove 1-9 are greater than 10.

i think i finally understand michael behe (and i actually read “black box!”) if there is a baryon for which a quark by quark account of its history dating back to the origin of subatomic particles is not proved, miraculous intervention remains the preferred explanation! if there is an atomic nucleus for which a baryon by baryon account of its history dating back to the origin of atoms is not proved, MIRTPE! if there is a chemical element for which a nucleus and electrons etc. etc.MIRTPE!if there is a molecule for which .….MIRTPE! now were ready to talk about mutations and biological structures. I wonder if he ever feels foolish teaching science to college students when he really wants to say “ throw away those microscopes and test tubes and put on robes and become priests!”

Comment #40745 Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on August 1, 2005 02:04 PM (e) (s)

By publishing in book form, you can also get your book placed in the “Science” section of book stores without the bother of peer-review or any other messy details.

Screw the bookstores. By publishing in book form they can get the crap classified and shelved as science in public libraries. Public libraries! As in “your tax dollars at work”! Why is nobody as incensed about this as I am? Who gives the book its Dewey number? The Library of Congress, of course.

Hey, let me comment as a Christian. I am insulted by Intelligent Design. Just as insulted as I am by anyone trying to claim that they can prove, “scientifically,” that God does not exist. I read in the Bible, the part where God said, “Let there be light.” It seems to me that when God did that, it was done perfectly. So everything that has unfolded since then is a part of The Plan. That does NOT mean the the future is determined. Only the basic rules. I think the important aspect of our current place in Creation is this: what we do with our free will, on this stage of a Universe (and we don’t have all time, so get with it). If I have to invoke God The Magician, who created the Universe just a few thousand, or million years ago, pretty much as we see it, then I might as well believe this was all created just last Tuesday, or just a moment ago, before you started reading this. I don’t think God is that sloppy. Imagine how simple such a magic trick would be, compared with creating the whole thing as a system that could evolve (oooh, the E word) into a home for things like us. Wow, now THAT’s a miracle. I believe I was told by God, in no uncertain terms, in that same Bible, to use ALL of my mind, and body, and all the other gifts my consciousness can use, to study this Universe, and use it all to be worshipful and loving. I feel that the fact that the Universe seems to behave logically at all is a miracle. And please, let us be kind to the non-believers (the non-believers in the sacredness of The Word as written in the physical Universe, for us to read). They are only frightended by science because so much of it is un-obvious. It’s not because they are stupid. Many of them are as smart as you. The same goes for the scientists. I did not accept the theory of evolution any more quickly than I accepted the theory of quantum electrodynamics (yes I know too much physics). And I do not accept either as perfect truth. But until something comes along that fits the observations better, evolution and QED are the best tools we have. Likewise, I can not accept anything I learned in church as a perfect truth, except for some of the basic rules like worship and love. But until something comes along that fits the observations better… you get the idea. When I look up at the stars, sometimes I pray, sometimes I think about physics. I’m not sure there is a difference. I think that scientists and Christians are all hurt by this debate. It’s too bad that there is so much advertising money to be made by CNN and the New York Times by playing this up as a significant battle. It has fueled this, basically political, argument to grow out of all proportion to its actual relevance to either camp. It is a tempest in a teapot. Most scientists know that they are just trying to do something good, and don’t want to have anything to do with debate. Most Christians know that they are just trying to do something good, and dont want… you get the idea. Basically, most of us are not extremists, and are not really threatened by either position. To quote a great philosopher of our time, “Gosh!”

The solution: make public schools teach religious theories, and make Sunday schools present the basics of scientific and critical thinking.

With all due respect, if the fudnies gain real politicla power, I think “science and science education” will be the least of our problems.

Of course, but I was addressing the specific concerns of this forum. With all due respect.

Instead of moaning and whining about the “Darwinian Conspiracy” will Bruce Chapman and his colleagues enable comments and trackbacks on their blog? The Limbo King of IT has already made his preferences well known - only posters who are prepared creep and crawl can gain admittance into his echo chamber.

Yeah, that doesn’t work so well for them. It’s hard to convince people of your support in the scientific community, when you post an article, and get ten trackbacks from scientists calling you a dumbass.

http://www.idthefuture.com/index.ph[…]b=1&pb=1

i think i finally understand michael behe (and i actually read “black box!”) if there is a baryon for which a quark by quark account of its history dating back to the origin of subatomic particles is not proved, miraculous intervention remains the preferred explanation!

It’s called “God of the Gaps”.

It’s not very popular amongst theologians.

From Bruce Chapman as quoted in Russell Durbin’s dissection:

.…..what is the next test the Darwinists are going to come up with? Will it not be a religious test that explicitly examines supposed motives rather than evidence or logic;

Hidden in these sentences is one of the ID Movement’s most carefully crafted strategies. Note that Chapman uses the term evidence OR logic, not evidence AND logic. This further misstatement of the scientific enterprise allows the ID crowd to make seemingly logical arguments (often based on highly dubious assumptions), but never have to test them with actual hard evidence - and yet still call their conclusions “scientific.”.

Frank J - comment #40727 - wrote:

IMO, that, more than any religious or political aspect, is what makes ID so popular among nonscientists. Note how, whatever the ““big bad drug companies”” offer is never good enough, but how any ““all natural”” alternative automatically earns at least a ““what”s the harm?”” no matter how untested or how little quality control it undergoes.

Maybe the proper analogy should be: “ID is to Science what echinacea is to treatment for the common cold.”

ecinacea is too bland. ID is the laetrile of science.

From Bayesian Bouffant, FCD in Comment #40745

[quoting Flint]” But another answer (actually voiced by Behe among others) is that the peers are not the target audience anyway, and publishing in book form, the books to be placed in the Praise Jesus section of the bookstores, reaches those who can most benefit by their contents (read: most likely to contribute to the Cause).[end quoting Flint]

By publishing in book form, you can also get your book placed in the “Science” section of book stores without the bother of peer-review or any other messy details.

When I read this I thought about what is shelved in the book store I work in. Stocking and shelving decisions are not made by the employees. It is a chain bookstore and the corporate headquarters makes those decisions. But in three years (and three years prior as a customer) the only creationist apologetics that have ever been in my store are Strobel’s books. Now, for my own curiosity’s sake, I decided to see where the rest of the creationist authors would be. I took the list of authors @ antievolution.org and on saturday I had the chance to look them up. But, while I was doing this, I came upon a tidbit that I thought I would pass on.

To start, I have to state the four categories of books from a stocking point-of-view. The first is books that are carried by the store and actually stocked and shelved in the store. The second is books that are carried by the store but are not actually stocked, they are on the “approved” list(so to speak), but book stores, by their nature, have only finite space and so can’t stock everything(if it doesn’t sell back to the warehouse it goes). Any book in the second category can of course be ordered. Books in the third category are not carried by the store but could be ordered when requested. The fourth category is books that are not carried by the store and are not orderable through the normal supply chain. There are very few books in this last category in general(mostly out-of-print) and, in the specific case of my search, every book by every author was available to me for ordering. Now that the boring preliminary potatoes are out of the way, here is the meat.

‘Of Pandas and People’ is carried but not stocked-but would be shelved in the science/nature section if it was stocked. Behe’s books-carried-not stocked-but would be shelved in the science/nature section. Out of Dembski’s dozen odd books four are carried but not stocked and the others are not carried at all. The four we carry would be in religion/philosophy if they were stocked. Phillip Johnson’s books of course run the gamut of subjects but the one we care about is ‘Darwin on Trial’. We carry, but don’t stock it, and it would be cross-shelved in both religion and science. Morris’s book ‘What is Creation Science?’-carried-not stocked-science/nature. Walter ReMine’s book is not carried, and hence I don’t know where we would shelve it. Simon Locke’s book is not carried, and hence I don’t know where we would shelve it. As I said before, Strobel’s books are the only ones we stock and shelve and they are in religion/philosophy. Jonathan Wells’ ‘Icons’ is carried-not stocked-and, curiously, would be in Social Sciences if we did stock it. Sales data in the computer goes back several years and, except for Strobel, these books just didn’t sell(this in south-east North Carolina). I’m not saying this is a bad thing; just make of it what you like.

Now for the interesting tidbit.

While looking up Jonathan Wells I came across an entry for a book being released in November ‘05, written by Johnathan(note spelling) Wells, called ‘The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science’, published by Regnery, the company that never met a conservative talking point they didn’t like, and the ones who published ‘Icons’.

I can’t look up book descriptions at work and don’t have internet access either(lousy corporation!) So when I got home last night I looked it up on amazon. Here it is. The cover picture is here. But this listing gives Tom Bethel as the author. When I go the the Regnery site’s authors list Tom Bethel isn’t listed yet, though of course Jonathan Wells (minus the first H) is. I don’t know why Bowker would list a misspelled Jonathan Wells as the author but it is not mine to reason why.

Here is the obligatory google. From that you’ll see that Denise O’Leary has already blogged on it.

Sincerely, Paul

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