Shapiro on DBB Review

| 72 Comments

by Dr. Robert Shapiro

As the author of over 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers and 4 science books for the public, I can add the following comments. I was sent an examination copy of Darwin’s Black Box when it was in near-final form. At that point in most cases, a contract has been signed, advance payments against anticipated revenue have been sent to the author, and the publisher is committed to publication, except under unusual circumstances. I was acting as an editorial consultant, rather than a peer reviewer. In my experience, the principal concern of the editor of a Trade (mass-market) book at that point is that the book be marketable, rather than factually correct (libel is undesirable, but is the responsibility of the author). Peer review, for a scientific journal, is a very different process.

I had seen a significant number of Creation Science books in the previous few years, and Professor Behe’s book was better than them, both in his mastery of the basic (non-controversial) biochemical background and the clarity of his exposition. I also disagreed totally with his conclusions, and let the editor know it. My own opinions on the origin of life field can be found on p 234 of Darwin’s Black Box or at greater length in my own book: Origins: A Skeptics Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth. That book is out of print at the current time, but available in many libraries. Some of the material is also presented in my more recent Planetary Dreams, which is still in print.

I am not expert in evolutionary theory, but have no reason to quarrel with the conclusions of my scientific colleagues who are better informed. I feel however that the origin of life is a topic that is more fundamental to the debate over intelligent design. The difference between a mixture of simple chemicals and a bacterium is much more profound than the gulf between a bacterium and an elephant. My criticisms of the dominant scientific dogma on the origin of life (by which I mean RNA World and closely related theories) are shared by Nobel Laureate Christian de Duve and a number of other prominent scientists who nonetheless are a minority in the field. For a brief, technical summary of my criticisms, see my paper: A Replicator Was Not Involved in the Origin of Life: IUBMB Life 49, 173-176 (2000). A much more thorough discussion, which also describes a path that I believe will lead to a good scientific solution, will appear in next June’s issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology. For those of you who are impatient, and wish a fairly similar point of view, I would suggest that you consult the books and papers of Professor Harold Morowitz.

As a final comment I will add that I am not a Christian, but an Agnostic. I was selected as an editorial consultant for Darwin’s Black Box because the editor was aware that Professor Behe and I are both critics of conventional origin-of-life theories.

Dr. Shapiro is Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Chemistry at New York University.

72 Comments

The difference between a mixture of simple chemicals and a bacterium is much more profound than the gulf between a bacterium and an elephant.

Probably true, but both leave out so many steps that it’s a funny comparison.

My criticisms of the dominant scientific dogma on the origin of life (by which I mean RNA World and closely related theories) are shared by Nobel Laureate Christian de Duve and a number of other prominent scientists who nonetheless are a minority in the field.

Is there any high school biology text that covers RNA world? I sort of remember way back when that there might have been a brief mention of the Miller-Urey experiment, but I’m not sure, and even if so, it might have just been a comment by the teacher. We sure weren’t tested on any abiogenesis hypothesis. Abiogenesis is really not a topic in biology at all and certainly has nothing to do with Darwinian natural selection.

I’m not sure why Shapiro, who sounds like a reasonable enough person (who holds a minority position which–by the way–is not being supressed) would want to aid and abet the creationists in conflating evolution and abiogenesis.

I am not expert in evolutionary theory, but have no reason to quarrel with the conclusions of my scientific colleagues who are better informed. I feel however that the origin of life is a topic that is more fundamental to the debate over intelligent design.

Several of Behe’s ‘irreducibly complex’ examples do not fall into that category. Blood clotting and the immune system make no sense until you have multicellular organisms with a circulatory system.

As for the RNA World theory, it is doing well enough that any theory that is to be successful will have to take notice of its successes, including the revelation that the catalytic core of the ribosome consists of RNA.

Abiogenesis is really not a topic in biology at all and certainly has nothing to do with Darwinian natural selection.

But it doesn’t stop creationists from conflating them.

Evopeach, if you are out there, read Professor Shapiro and weep.

Professor Shapiro points out

In my experience, the principal concern of the editor of a Trade (mass-market) book at that point is that the book be marketable, rather than factually correct

Behe’s claim of a “more rigorous” process than peer review certainly looks ridiculous, now.

Dr. Shapiro,

I’m not sure if you’re reading this or not, but thanks for sharing your thoughts on this subject. I think it’s extremely important to the debate to dispel the notion that peer-review for books is the same as peer-review for scientific journals. Your contribution will certainly advance that cause.

While I’d agree that origin-of-life research has not advanced as far as evolutionary biology, it’s important to note that ID offers no scientific means with which to actually address the origin of life question, and that is essentially by design.

Although Dr. Shapiro does not explicitly say that he recommended Behe’s book for publication, such a conclusion seems to transpire from his post. From his explanation also seems to follow that the reason for such a recommendation was that Behe’s opus was “better than other creationist books.” Rather week foundation for recommending a book with whose conclusions Shapiro claims to be completely in disagreement. Of course a non-recommendation on Shapiro’s part would hardly stop the publication of Behe’s book, given the smell of money the publisher sensed, but at least Shapiro would have not been a part to such an obvious disservice to the public perception of science as Behe’s book happened to be. Perhaps some light on the reasons for Shapiro’s approval of book’s publication may be shed if we notice in his post the reference to a supposed “scientific dogma” in the field of origin of life research. As a scientist, Shapiro must have realized that the very expression “scientific dogma” is an oxymoron. In science there are no dogmas, only certain wide-accepted (but never converted into dogmas) theories, and others, “not-so-wide accepted” hypotheses. In the field of origin of life there are so far no commonly accepted theories, not to mention dogmas, but only certain hypotheses which are extensively discussed and freely critiqued. Some of these hypotheses have more adherents than others, but none has so far become anywhere close to a “dogma.” Perhaps Dr. Shapiro is a good scientist and a straight shooter, but his name will from now on be (at least tangentially) associated with Behe’s infamous screed. Pity.

You might mention the RNA World in an AP Biology class, but not in a 9th/10th grade intro course. Even in the AP, the pace is so fast that it would not be an extended discussion beyond its basic premises. Just as an aside, there is a new book out that covers the various origin theories out there, titled Gen-e-sis: The Scientific Quest for Life’s Origins by Robert Hazen.

After Prof. Shapiro was kind enough to drop by PT, it would be a real shame if this thread were to turn into a forum for undeserved bashing of him. I have only a cursory acquaintance with his ideas (as a simple-minded molecular biologist the chemistry of origin-of-life theories is well over my head) but I certainly know that he in no way has suggested that life has a miraculous, non-naturalistic explanation, quite the contrary. As to his consultant’s report on Behe’s book, what more would you have had him do than indicate that he totally disagreed with Behe’s conclusions?

Perhaps the “dogma” (and I agree that it’s a misnomer) is simply that “it’s replicators all the way down.” i.e. the belief that eventually abiogenesis will be a part of the fold of evolutionary theory.

Being a meta-scientific proposition, this could more accurately be labelled a “dogma,” though I’m not sure how rigidly it is adered to by the life-sciences community.

I mention this aspect because of the title of the paper Dr. Shapiro references, “A Replicator was not involved…”

And, on the subject of “dogmas” in science generally, isn’t the one gene-one protein coding relationship commonly called the “central dogma” of the Synthesis?

After Prof. Shapiro was kind enough to drop by PT, it would be a real shame if this thread were to turn into a forum for undeserved bashing of him.

Professor Shapiro appears to be an adult who can take care of himself. Was Professor Shapiro informed before posting that comments would be censored or prohibited if they were critical of Professor Shapiro?

And, on the subject of “dogmas” in science generally, isn’t the one gene-one protein coding relationship commonly called the “central dogma” of the Synthesis?

No.

Try google next time.

After Prof. Shapiro was kind enough to drop by PT, it would be a real shame if this thread were to turn into a forum for undeserved bashing of him.

My intent was not to bash; I’m just worried that his comments are vulnerable to quote mining. I have no opinion at all about RNA world, and would be interested as a layperson in any reasonable theory of abiogenesis with explanatory power and testable hypotheses.

Gee, sorry for the misbegotten query, there R.U. I had, in fact, heard of Google, which is a great resource, if all you want is an answer to a direct question. And, though you are correct that I used imprecise language in (mis-)representing “The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology” (as the references Google was able to supply would have it), there is, in fact, a concept commonly known by that name, which makes your terse and dismissive response spectacularly unhelpful. The point: there aren’t really dogmas in science, but some scientific concepts are sometimes called dogmas by scientists. A small point, nothing more.

PaulC – it must be recognized that all comments by scientists are vulnerable to creationist quote mining unless they plainly call out creationists on their garbage.

That is why I try to make it a point to mention as often as possible that ID peddlers are morons, charlatans and/or liars. Ad hominems? Not when I can explain at lengthy why I use those terms. They are the most accurate descriptors of creationists of all stripes.

Like all humans attempting to attract attention to their ideas, scientists tend to frame their discoveries in ways which make them seem more interesting or important than they turn out to be in “reality”, i.e., as a practical matter. When Professor Shapiro positions himself as a member of a small group of deep-thinking scientists struggling to overcome a “paradigm” or “dogma”, he is appealing to the fondness of human beings for timeless stories along the lines of David and Goliath.

There’s nothing wrong with that. People, including scientists, love that kind of framing. Creationists know this and use it to their advantage, of course, but so do many many many scientists.

But great care should be taken in these troubled times to ensure to the extent possible that one does not throw bones to the implacable hound dog of modern creationism. As Paul Nelson has recently demonstrated in another thread, quote-mining is all these pathetic losers do. (what else are they supposed to do? you can’t do any experiments to test their non-science baloney).

Another bad habit of scientists is to pretend that creationism peddlers are honest and sincere. They are not.

I strongly urge everyone to watch the American Enterprise Insitute video which shows Lying Ryland of the Discovery Institute get caught in a bald-faced lie by none other than Richard Thomas of the Thomas More Law Center!!! This incident should be brought up every time Ryland’s name is mentioned. Ryland is a DOCUMENTED LIAR. He did not apologize for his lie. He did not retract his statement. He just sat there and refused to comment. What kind of human beings behave this way? Sincere human beings? Honest human beings? Please.

Similarly, while I applaud Ken Miller and recognize that no other person on earth is as skilled at destroying creationist peddlers in real time in a live debate as he is, I was shocked to hear him refer to Paul Nelson as “an honorable man” during his presentation. Paul Nelson is not an “honorable man.” He is a professional DOCUMENTED LIAR. Miller himself caught Nelson playing with words like they were taffy and responding to pointed questions with pure smoke. An “honorable man”???? Perhaps Ken was being sarcastic but I’m certain the sarcasm was lost on his audience.

Bottom line: Professor Shapiro is certainly to be commended for his recent forthrightness with respect to Intelligent Design garbage. But those of us who recognize the success the Discovery Institute has had in promulgating its anti-science agenda to date must be exceedingly clear about our opinions with respect to the individuals who carry water for the anti-science (and pro-Christian theocracy) movement in this country. That is the only way we can prevent these lying individual human beings from using our own work against us.

And, though you are correct that I used imprecise language in (mis-)representing “The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology” (as the references Google was able to supply would have it),

You’re welcome.

Dogma [dôg-mah], noun: In science, any idea held by a substantial majority of scientists, with whom one strongly disagrees.

(Antonym: “a proven scientific fact”, for any idea held by a substantial majority of scientists, with whom one strongly agrees) ;-)

You’re welcome. Quote miner.

This site seems to have some relevance to this thread. E. g.

What should be taught in science classes is why the origin of life is one of science’s unsolvable problems.

RE 50467:

We have ample evidence that the DI and its ilk will quote-mine, misinterpret real controversies, peddle nice-sounding rhetoric to gull the unsuspecting whom they will then quote-mine, misinterpret, etc. The real harm to science would come if those like Prof. Shapiro were hesitant to state their non-mainstream views for fear of being misquoted by the IDC-ers.

I liked Shapiro’s book “Origins: A Skeptics Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth”. I seem to remember that, whilst being critical of some of the then current origin of life theories, he was absolutely clear that all appeals to the supernatural were absolutely verboten. He was in fact pretty severe on the creationists. Also, I rather enjoyed his demolition of the nutty idea from Fred Hoyle that “it came from outer space”. So I just don’t know how he got mixed up in this Behe thing.….

CJ – touche. Nicely done. ;)

Dr. Shapiro, in light of your post above, would you be willing to elaborate on the following, which appears on the back of Darwin’s Black Box:

“Michael Behe has done a top-notch job of explaining and illuminating one of the most vexing problems in biology: the origin of the complexity that permeates all life on this planet.…This book should be on the essential reading list of all those who are interested in the question of where we came from, as it presents the most thorough and clever presentation of the design argument that I have ever seen.” – Robert Shapiro, author of Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth

This quote certainly gives me no sense that you completely disagree with Behe’s conclusions. Were you quoted inaccurately or out of context?

If not, why would you recommend as “essential reading” a book that, in your opinion, reaches totally erroneous conclusions?

I do not mean to bash. I am genuinely curious to know why you thought there was such value in Behe’s book if it was ultimately completely wrong.

The real harm to science would come if those like Prof. Shapiro were hesitant to state their non-mainstream views for fear of being misquoted by the IDC-ers.

I don’t think that’s likely to happen–and certainly not due to blog comments from strangers.

What bugs me is Shapiro’s reference to the “origin of life question”, which is not relevant to the Dover trial, which is about evolution, not abiogenesis, and how to teach it in high school biology. While abiogenesis might be relevant to a review of Behe’s book, that’s only because it’s to Behe’s advantage to mix it into the matter of evolution.

It’s understandable that Shapiro wants to talk about abiogenesis, since that’s the part where he disagrees with the majority of scientists. But his comments sort of muddy the waters with respect to Dover. His comments are useful in establishing that his review was not as rigorous as Behe would like us to think, but they lack message discipline. People who really want to help fight ID and creationism ought to be more careful.

So, far from bashing Shapiro, I would plead with him that he preface such comments emphatically with the point that the Dover trial is all about the difference between a bacterium and an elephant, a difference that he asserts is far less than the difference between a mix of chemicals and a bacterium, which is another very interesting subject of research, but not one relevant to Dover.

As far as I know, high school students in an introductory biology class are not taught any particular explanation for how life appeared in the first place. Given the state of our knowledge, that’s probably the right way to handle it. On the other hand, they need to be taught that evolution is an established fact.

Similarly, while I applaud Ken Miller and recognize that no other person on earth is as skilled at destroying creationist peddlers in real time in a live debate as he is, I was shocked to hear him refer to Paul Nelson as “an honorable man”

Maybe he intended it to be taken this way.

ANTONY Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones; So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus Hath told you Caesar was ambitious: If it were so, it was a grievous fault, And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it. Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest– For Brutus is an honourable man; So are they all, all honourable men–

“Michael Behe has done a top-notch job of explaining and illuminating one of the most vexing problems in biology: the origin of the complexity that permeates all life on this planet.…This book should be on the essential reading list of all those who are interested in the question of where we came from, as it presents the most thorough and clever presentation of the design argument that I have ever seen.”

This is the sort of indefensible garbage that merits a retraction, and explanation, and an apology from Professor Shapiro to the scientific community. Has Professor Shapiro offered any of these? If not, why not?

Other than the normal human resistance to admitting mistakes, what possible reason could Professor Shapiro have for not retracting, explaining and apologizing for the above paragraph which inarguably praises to High Heaven the work of a notorious charlatan and anti-science propagandist?

This is a crucial problem, in my humble opinion. Back-scratching and bed-lying with those who seek to erode science in this country for the purpose of selling books is inexcusable.

The ID’ists would crawl naked over broken glass to get any .….ANY.….. tiny bit of speculation, which they see as scientific evidence, that shows the slightest hint of contradiction in critical thinking to use it as “aha! I told you so, they can’t agree, and that “proves” any part of their argument against evolution”.

Another tried and true method to improve the image of your product is to associate it with another highly respected “product” in this case ID “science” with REAL science. Both products become synonymous in the public mind the prestige of one transfers to the other.

Book review=peer review ? The public can’t tell the difference don’t care and don’t want to know.

In politics, marketing and war anything goes.

They turn mere speculation and philosophic musings into proof. They know the public doesn’t have even the most basic critical thinking ability and conflate indentity politics*, postmodernist mangled take on reality, equal time arguments, pseudo science, religious metaphor, into one juicy turd dressed up as a caramel.

Identity Politics* Rather than organizing solely around ideology or party affiliation, identity politics typically concerns the liberation of a specific constituency marginalized within its larger context. Members of that constituency assert or reclaim ways of understanding their distinctiveness that challenge dominant oppressive characterizations, with the goal of greater self-determination.

Think 1933

Stephen – haha! You may be right.

And let’s be clear: Ken Miller did bury Paul Nelson that day that at the AEI. Unfortunately, an evil zombie tends to rise again unless the brain is destroyed.

They know the public doesn’t have even the most basic critical thinking ability and conflate indentity politics*, postmodernist mangled take on reality, equal time arguments, pseudo science, religious metaphor, into one juicy turd dressed up as a caramel.

Is that too many words to put on a T-shirt? ;)

I noticed that some of comments started getting critical of Dr. Shapiro, because he reviewed “Darwin’s Black Box”. But, his abiogenesis questions are really another matter altogether and he doesn’t appear to be a creationist. The important point is that, although he may indeed have recommended the book for publication (he doesn’t make this clear but it seems likely), he nevertheless makes a clear distinction between this kind of “editorial consultation”, which he explicitly acknowledges is about commercial marketability, and peer review. Recall that what started this whole discussion was Behe’s absurd claim that “Darwin’s Black Box” was more thoroughly peer reviewed than most research papers. Of the three supposed peer-reviewers in this supposedly thorough process, two have already claimed they panned or didn’t actually read the book and Dr. Shapiro claims he disagreed with it. (Although it seems he probably told the publisher it was well-written enough to be marketable).

But please direct your attention to the main point here. Behe’s book did not actually receive anything remotely resembling what any real scientist would call peer-review *at all*, despite his claims that it was actually better peer-reviewed than most real scientific research papers. In other words, Behe has been caught flatly, and obscenely, lying here. It’s not an exaggeration, it’s a lie - the book received NO actual peer-review. Zip. And he also lied under oath. But, alas, after his cross-examination Behe can now plausibly avoid a perjury charge by claiming that he’s too stupid to understand the difference between an editorial consultant ion and peer-review.

K.E. Wrote:

Think 1933

Yes, K.E. you are correct. The current political movement is exactly the same, just dressed differently. Fascism is alive and well in our own government and popular culture. And, it needs to be exposed and excised as soon as possible so that our society can get back on track and stop losing ground to the rest of the educated world.

Just an amusing postscript to my last post. The phrase “consultant ion” appears in the last sentence. I meant, of course “consultation”. I used the site’s spell checker and had made a typo and I just accepted the first option it provided. So how did “consultant ion” got into the spell checker’s dictionary in the first place?

Some of you folks must have a lot of time on your hands to read entire books filled with worthless garbage. Perhaps you enjoy pretending that Michael Behe is making a subtle or complicated argument instead of reciting an ancient argument from ignorance, shrouded in mined quotes and bespecked with coded allusions to his deity.

Shapiro remains a stooge with dollar signs in his eyeballs. The plan was likely this: I’ll write a nice blurb for Behe and Behe will write a nice blurb for me.

I’m not holding my breath for a retraction from Professor Shapiro.

“Some of you folks must have a lot of time on your hands to read entire books filled with worthless garbage.”

This appears to be a faulty inference.

“The plan was likely this”

No creationist could do a better job of presenting unsupported slander.

“I’m not holding my breath for a retraction from Professor Shapiro.”

Retraction of what? That DBB is the best written case for the bogus nonsense known as Intelligent Design? That is, basically what he said. If you think he’s wrong, tell us what better case there is for that particular bogus nonsense.

Here’s a new book on the subject of origin of life. Could be interesting: Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life’s Origins by Robert Hazen

the publisher Wrote:

The theory of emergence is poised to answer a multitude of questions even as it raises the possibility that natural processes exist beyond what we now know, perhaps beyond what we even comprehend. Genesis tells the tale of transforming scientific advances in our quest for life s origins. Written with grace, beauty, and authority, it goes directly to the heart of who we are and why we are here.

morbius

No creationist could do a better job of presenting unsupported slander.

Coming from an apologist for lazy back-slappers like Shapiro, I could take this as a compliment.

Unfortunately, you seem to be having trouble making sense.

I have not slandered anyone. And my support is found in the common knowledge shared by all adults who understand a few simple principles of human behavior and aren’t ashamed to admit what those principles are.

Does Professor Shapiro write books “for the public”? Does he want to sell as many copies of his books as possible? What about Behe? Does Behe write books? Does Behe want to sell as many copies of his books “to the public” as possible? How might these two men persuade skeptical readers to pick up a copy of their respective books?

If you think he’s wrong, tell us what better case there is for that particular bogus nonsense.

What an asinine request. Just read what you wrote, morbius! Absurd nonsense.

There are no “best” versions of facile arguments from ignorance worth acknowledging as such. Whether Behe’s version is buried under more meters of doggy doo-doo than other versions only shows how horribly warped Behe’s mind is – warped around dollar signs and delusions of religious grandeur.

My comments that appeared on the jacket of Darwin’s Black Box were only a portion of those I sent to the editor, and do not reflect the extent to which I disagree with the book’s conclusions. As a scientist who has written for the public in my own books, I did appreciate Professor Behe’s ability to communicate basic biochemistry. As a peer reviewer, however, I would reject any article submitted to a scientific journal that invoked a supernatural solution. As an advocate of the free exchange of ideas (except those which would lead to physical harm to others), I feel that Darwin’s Black Box should have been published as a book, even if I did not agree with it. Further, I feel that such ideas deserve the best possible presentation. If they fail, I would prefer that they do because of their innate flaws, rather than because the presenter lacks appropriate writing skills.

Some of you may remember the film “Patton”. In one memorable scene, Patton, having defeated General Rommel on the battlefield, shouts out “Rommel, I read your book.” In that same spirit I would still recommend that all those who oppose Intelligent Design read the best-written books that advocate it, if only to learn the arguments that they will have to deal with.

On another topic, I do not know the extent to which the RNA World idea has entered high school textbooks, but it appears in college textbooks and in the media as though it was a theory that was well supported by scientific evidence. The description of it as “dogma” is not my own invention; it was used by a Nobel Laureate in private correspondence. The other use of the word that was mentioned in the thread was in the “Central Dogma of Molecular Biology”. Francis Crick has admitted that he did not know what the word “dogma” meant when he coined the phrase.

To the person who mentioned that the catalytic part of the ribosome is RNA, I would add that RNA polymerase is a protein. But neither fact informs us about the origin of life.

Finally, I should point out that there are two categories of Intelligent Design. In one, the designer is supernatural and uses means that cannot be described by science. That view deserves no place in the science classroom, though I have no objection to its presentation as religion. In the other category, the designer (or designers) is material and located within this universe. This idea has been presented in books by such prominent scientists as Francis Crick and Fred Hoyle. It does qualify as science, but it is speculative and unsupported by evidence. In debates with William Dembski earlier this year (they were officially called “panels”), I asked him which type of Intelligent Design he was advocating. He specifically denied the supernatural interpretation. But when I then asked him why he did not grant priority to Crick and especially to Hoyle, and endorse their ideas, he could give no good answer. I believe that this line of questioning strikes at the most vulnerable weakness in the Intelligent Design position, and should be used more frequently.

What an asinine request. Just read what you wrote, morbius! Absurd nonsense.

There are no “best” versions of facile arguments from ignorance worth acknowledging as such.

Talk about asinine; this statement is equivalent to “I’m an intellectually dishonest ass”. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were a creationist troll trying to make the other side look bad.

Registered user

I think you owe Professor an apology for

Coming from an apologist for lazy back-slappers like Shapiro

which is grossly unfair.

In his latest comment, Professor Shapiro makes clear that his review of Behe’s DBB was not in any sense a peer review and that the comments he made have been effectively quote-mined by the editor to present them in the best light. This is standard procedure for book reviews and, I suspect most people would treat them with caution, and even, rarely, check the quote against the source.

Are you in favour of censoring books because they present crazy ideas? A much more effective sanction is not to buy the book.

Professor has published, and continues to publish scholarly work, which is widely cited by others. He has openly declared himself opposed to the supernatural nonsense of ID. I think he should be complimented on sparing time and effort from his busy schedule in cancer research to clarify that he is on the side of science and reason.

Oops should read “Professor Shapiro”

“Register User”s offense is part of his very nature and beyond repair.

He specifically denied the supernatural interpretation.

In other words, he lied – and not for the first time.

But when I then asked him why he did not grant priority to Crick and especially to Hoyle, and endorse their ideas, he could give no good answer. I believe that this line of questioning strikes at the most vulnerable weakness in the Intelligent Design position, and should be used more frequently.

That’s what’s going on in Dover – IDists are being proven liars in court.

It appears to me that Shapiro is naively allowing philosophical musing, Science Fiction, speculation without evidence and metaphysics to be considered legitimate debate under the guise of science as well as unwittingly assisting dogmatic fundamentalists with their tribal, “identity politics” attack on science education.

Even his nod to Hoyle who famously ended his career proposing the Flu Virus came from outer space and went into endless mathematical “proofs” to support his precept with evidence gathered from school attendance records, an absolute classic case of crackpot science- making the evidence fit a preconceived conclusion. He could not accept his ideas were so far removed from reality or that he was an embarrassment to his colleagues.

As a physicist Hoyle was a hopeless biologist and not much of a philosopher either.

His revolutionary early work which proved that stars were factories that turned Hydrogen into the elements of the periodic table (nucleosynthesis) was worthy of the Nobel prize and indeed he should have shared the Nobel prize with William A. Fowler who followed up with the experimental work that proved Hoyles theoretical work. However the Nobel prize is awarded by scientists to scientists for their body of work to science not wacky ideas with the potential to discredit science.

Scientists, atheists and believers will help science best by remaining above dogma of any sort and let the evidence speak for itself.

Alan

Professor Shapiro makes clear that his review of Behe’s DBB was not in any sense a peer review

That’s totally irrelevant to my point.

the comments he made have been effectively quote-mined by the editor to present them in the best light.

Yeah, I’m sure the editor struggled real hard to turn this sentence:

Michael Behe has done a top-notch job of explaining and illuminating one of the most vexing problems in biology: the origin of the complexity that permeates all life on this planet.…

and this sentence:

This book should be on the essential reading list of all those who are interested in the question of where we came from, as it presents the most thorough and clever presentation of the design argument that I have ever seen.

into something that sounded like a positive review of Behe’s creationist trash.

What is “grossly unfair” is how you turn Shapiro’s naivety (or greed) into an attack on the book’s editor who was just doing his job. Now, if only Shapiro would stick to doing his job and get out of the business of praising the literary skills of anti-science charlatans.

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This page contains a single entry by Guest Contributor published on October 27, 2005 12:16 PM.

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