Hang your head in shame, Grauniad!

| 14 Comments

PZ Myer at Pharyngula discusses an interview with Behe:

The Guardian has published a pathetic interview with Behe. The interviewer, John Sutherland, is clearly out of his depth and allows real howlers to slide by, and in a few cases, even helps Behe along.

Behe Wrote:

But the question is: exactly how did life get here? Was it by natural selection and random mutation or was it by something else? Everybody - even Richard Dawkins - sees design in biology. You see this design when you see co-ordinated parts coming together to perform a function - like in a hand. And so it’s the appearance of design that everybody’s trying to explain. So that if Darwin’s theory doesn’t explain it we’re left with no other explanation than maybe it really was designed. That’s essentially the design argument.

Read more at Pharyngula

Or read on for some of my comments

I find it refreshening that the design argument is presented so clear as an appeal to ignorance but worse, that the only alternative seems to be Darwinian theory. In other words, intelligent design is merely a placeholder for other evolutionary processes and it is not really clear if there is a need for an intelligent designer.

Too bad Behe still follows the DI playbook about not identifying the designer…

Funny how Behe considers it flattery when science has so clearly rejected his arguments. ID proponents seem to be starved for attention. And perhaps any attention is good attention because it is not really about science after all…

Baseyian Bouffant points out that Wikipedia contains a relevant entry

Galilieo Wannabe

Explanation

You commit this fallacy if you compare yourself to Galileo Galilei or another scientist suppressed by authorities or disbelieved by your peers. This is very popular among pseudoscientists.

Countermeasure

A popular answer is, “they laughed at Galileo, they laughed at Columbus, but they also laughed at Bozo the Clown”. Indeed, being “suppressed” is not correlated to being right.

14 Comments

It’s such a shame that the same paper that gave us the excellent Bad Science column and the recent Coyne /Dawkins interview has slipped so quickly into fawning interviews by the ignorant. I wonder if this was some kind of ‘balance’ for the anti-ID article? I’d have loved to have heard the interview if Ben Goldacre had been asking the questions.

I take back everything I said about “sloppy” US Journalists - we’re worse ‘cause we should have seen it coming!

Ross.

The interview in the print version of the paper was in the G2 magazine, near the back, in the “Ideas” section–whatever that is–and dubbed “The ideas interview”.

So, I suspect that it was intended to be no more than an uncritical puff piece from the start with ID being the “idea of the week” or something like that.

The Guardian just launched a major redesign of the paper and I think this is the first “ideas interview” so it’s impossible to tell if this section is meant to be treated as real journalism or simply the usual magazine claptrap (and there’s a lot of it in the mags that clutter up the newspapers on weekends in the UK).

So don’t give up on the Guardian just yet.…!

Even given that caveat, the column’s not off to a very good start - he could barely have done a better job of spoonfeeding the softball questions to Behe.

“they laughed at Columbus”

actually they were quite right to laugh at Columbus. Columbus had a woeful underestimate of the size of the earth, while the educated community had a better estimate. They did not think the earth was flat. Columbus would have died if he didn’t have the luck of finding an unexpected continent in his path.

“You see this design when you see co-ordinated parts coming together”

I don’t think this is entirely wrong. Evolution is perhaps an automated process of design, neatly generating organisms which fit the environment. It’s kind of like the design which is left when an imprint is recorded in clay, although the relation of “fitting” between the original and the imprint is a more abstract one. Whether you think the designer is environment, evolution, or both together depends on your perspective. “Automatic designer” is very difficult for the fervent religionist to swallow, because it’s so easy to anthropomorphize any inhuman process which shares any characteristic with humans.

Rob Crowther at Evolution News & Views has an blog entry ranting that the piece is being attacked without courage to make a link. Mr. Crowther misrepresents the pro-science replies by falsely saying that they are upset about “letting a pro-design scientist speak for himself”

Mr. Crowther misrepresents the pro-science replies by falsely saying that they are upset about “letting a pro-design scientist speak for himself”

Heck, I’m *GLAD* they let pro-design, uh, “scientists” speak for themselves. As I’ve always said, if you just let them talk long enough, they shoot themselves in the head every time.

Can this pro-design, uh, “scientist” give us any testible scientific theory of ID?

Why not?

I think people are being a little complacent with this “it’s just a puff piece” thing. One of the big things trailed about the Guardian’s redesign (this was the first issue published in the smaller-sized “Berliner” format) was that science coverage would be more integrated with the rest of the paper, rather than living in the little ghetto of the Thursday “Life” section (which is where the Dawkins/Coyne piece appeared). I have a terrible worry that the new “Ideas” section is part of this “integration”.

I’ve written sternly to the reader’s editor (my first time in over a decade of Guardian readership that I’ve felt the need to do so); I reproduced the email in the comments at Pharyngula.

More Guardian wierdness? There’s a comment piece from Professor Johnjoe McFadden in today’s paper which appears to follow the ‘Privileged Planet’ line. Apparently, there’s New Research (Livio/Rees) that

“explores the value of the cosmological constant, a measure of how much energy is contained in empty space. Without this value being tweaked to an extraordinary level of precision, the universe would be filled only with huge black holes or entirely empty of stars”

Prof McFadden repeatedly speaks of values being ‘tweaked’ (without naming how or by whom) and concludes with the alice-in-wonderland concept that

“To explain the values of the fundamental constants physicists have to look not at their equations but at the structure of the eye or the brain or the building blocks of life. Who knows what fundamental constants take their value from the fact that fish had to propel themselves through water before evolving into intelligent tetrapods like us. Biology explains everything”

Prof McFadden is the author of “Quantum Evolution” and although I’m getting used to the idea that explanations with the word “Quantum” in them often give rise to contra-intuitive answers but I can;t help feeling that McFadden is a biologist suffering from Equation-Envy!

I’m off to look up what else this Professor has written

Ross

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/s[…]8491,00.html

Prof McFadden is the author of “Quantum Evolution” and although I’m getting used to the idea that explanations with the word “Quantum” in them often give rise to contra-intuitive answers but I can;t help feeling that McFadden is a biologist suffering from Equation-Envy!

Personally, I believe it’s generally quite a safe bet to assume any argument with the word “Quantum” in it which doesn’t come from the Quantum mechanics literature is utter tosh. As far as I can determine, quantum mechanics is really just the new ‘magic’ that you can contribute any bizarre claim to (the Golden Sound Intelligent Chip comes to mind)

I initially looked at quantum evolution and guessed that it was rubbish, something that was quickly confirmed by the laughs of my colleagues within the Physics department. Apparently, to get DNA in any kind of superpositional state you’d need to completely isolate it and cool it close to absolute zero. Body temperature really won’t do it.

The whole idea of the information travelling back in time to increase the probability of beneficial mutations seems awfully like magical thinking. Even if it were true, how in the future would the atoms ‘know’ they were still part of functioning DNA, and thus that their mutations were beneficial?

They’ll certainly need to produce a lot of positive evidence to get me to change my mind on this.

Can this pro-design, uh, “scientist” give us any testible scientific theory of ID?

For a good scientific discussion of a testable scientific theory of ID, read the excellent debate at home.comcast.net/~orojeff/.

For a good scientific discussion of a testable scientific theory of ID, read the excellent debate at home.comcast.net/~orojeff/.

BWA HA HA !!!!!!!

Oh wait, you mean you’re SERIOUS??????

What did the designer do, specifically, according to this, uh, testable scientific theory of ID?

What mechanisms did it use to do whatever the heck IDers think it did?

Where can we see the designer using any of these mechanisms today to do . . well . . anything?

BWA HA HA !!!!!!!

Oh wait, you mean you’re SERIOUS??????

What did the designer do, specifically, according to this, uh, testable scientific theory of ID?

What mechanisms did it use to do whatever the heck IDers think it did?

Where can we see the designer using any of these mechanisms today to do . . well . . anything?

If Evolution can answer the following questions, then it can expect Intelligent Design to answer the above questions.

What steps did Natural Selection choose, specifically, that led from a bacteria without a flagellum to a bacteria with a flagellum?

Where can we see Natural Selection using these steps today to produce a bacterial flagellum?

(Any complex organ could be used instead a flagellum, like a heart, a wing, or an eye. The flagellum is a nice choice because the extremely high reproduction rate of bacteria makes it possible to observe thousands of generations in the laboratory.)

A theory does not have to explain every detail of a particular phenomenon to be true. The Big Bang does not explain where the infinitely dense point of matter came from, nor why the universe started to expand. We also cannot watch the inflationary period of the Big Bang today. That doesn’t make the Big Bang an unscientific theory.

Re “A theory does not have to explain every detail of a particular phenomenon to be true.”

True, but it does have to explain some detail(s) in order to be useful or testable.

Henry

“If Evolution can answer the following questions, then it can expect Intelligent Design to answer the above questions.

[…]

(Any complex organ could be used instead a flagellum, like a heart, a wing, or an eye. The flagellum is a nice choice because the extremely high reproduction rate of bacteria makes it possible to observe thousands of generations in the laboratory.)”

Let’s play that ball game… Should be fun.

“What steps did Natural Selection choose, specifically, that led from a bacteria without a flagellum to a bacteria with [the ability to eat nylon]?”

Well, first of all, singular of ‘bacteria’ is ‘bacterium.’

That said, the pathway of this particular evolutionary process has been mapped out. I believe that you can find the references here: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB101.html

“Where can we see Natural Selection using these steps today to produce [nylon eating bacteria]?”

Why in the lab, of course. For complete references, see the above link.

Now, your turn.

(snip handwaving and evasion of my simple questions by Jeffrey)

I’ll ask again:

What did the designer do, specifically, according to this, uh, testable scientific theory of ID?

What mechanisms did it use to do whatever the heck IDers think it did?

Where can we see the designer using any of these mechanisms today to do . . well . . anything?

Or is “POOF!!!! God – er, I mean, the Unknown Intelligent Desigenr – dunnit !!!!” the extent of your, uh, scientific theory of ID.

And are IDers (like you) just lying to us when they claim otherwise.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PvM published on September 12, 2005 11:17 AM.

Wake up, and smell the controversy was the previous entry in this blog.

Harris: ID not religion, just about God is the next entry in this blog.

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