Two More of Behe’s Reviewers Speak Out

| 20 Comments

Last week I wrote about the fact that Michael Behe claimed under oath in the Dover case that his book, Darwin’s Black Box, received even more thorough peer review than a scholarly article in a refereed journal. Now more and more facts are coming to light. We only know the names of 3 of the 5 reviewers - Michael Atchison, Robert Shapiro and K. John Morrow. Atchison, I’ve already documented, did not review the book at all. He had a 10 minute conversation about the book over the phone, without ever seeing the text, with an editor who was concerned about whether it would sell, not whether the science was solid. Skip Evans contacted Robert Shapiro and was told that he did review the book, and while he agreed with some of his analysis of origin-of-life research, he thinks his conclusions are false. He did, however, say that he thought that Behe’s book was the best explanation of the argument from design that was available.

Now, what of Morrow? As it turns out, this is the best of all. Over on the Panda’s Thumb, a commenter has left the text of an email from K. John Morrow in response to an inquiry about his review of Behe’s book. I contacted Dr. Morrow and we’ve spent some time on the phone over the last couple days discussing the situation. He has given me permission to post his response in full, with one disclaimer:

He dashed this response off pretty quickly in response to an inquiry and in retrospect he isn’t certain whether he reviewed the book for Free Press, who ultimately published the book, or for an earlier publisher who was considering publishing it. His recollection from a decade ago is that after he had given his review of the book and the review written by Russell Doolittle of part of the book, the editor told him that they didn’t think they were going to go ahead with publishing the book. But he can’t be certain at this point whether that was an editor for Free Press or an editor from a different publisher who was considering the book for publication. Ultimately this doesn’t matter. Behe himself named Morrow as a reviewer of the book in his testimony, so his views on the book are obviously germane to the question of the rigor of the peer review and whether it determined whether the book should be published. With that disclaimer, the post of his full response after the fold:

Continue reading Two More of Behe’s Reviewers Speak Out at Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

20 Comments

“I’m sure there’s a naive market for claptrap like this”

Well, he DID review it.

Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah. Can we track down Dembski’s reviewers?

Re Darwin’s Black Box, Ed Brayton writes

it’s very well written and is probably the best example of the argument from design that has been published since Paley’s day. It’s a provocative and well written book on a hot subject.

Ka-ching! Ka-ching!

Michael Behe sends his warmest thanks for the timely plug.

OT-

I’d like to throw this out. I left it as a question at Demski’s uncommondescent blog. I’ll check back at the answers.

When anyone has a discussion with someone that thinks IDC should be taught in public schools ask them this:

What exactly is it that you would like children to learn?

It’s a simple question, but since ID isn’t really anything, I think they’ll have a hard time coming up with anything but detractions from evolution. That’s all they’ll be able to say.

Then if they do manage to throw a thing together, it will only be one thing at most, ask them if what they said has been experimentally supported? Like David Spade, the answer is always NO, because there isn’t even one experiment done to support IDC much less a peer-reviewed article based on original research.

But, something tells me that they’ll pull out monkeys and shakespeare and Mt. Rushmore.

What exactly is it that you would like children to learn?

“Jesus saves”.

Any other answer would be less than honest.

If only that were true Lenny Try “bottled rapture”

agreed. I think IDiots have long forgotten any messages that Jesus tried to impart. One wonders if most of them have the ability to read from their own “authority source”.

bottled rapture is a very appropo label for the snake oil they are trying to sell.

Registered User: the quote you provided (comment 54120) is not the words by Ed Brayton but by one of the reviewers of Behe’s screed who, btw, disagreed with Behe.

AR – Really? How can you tell? It doesn’t look that way to me. There are no quotations marks around that passage over at the Dispatches blog.

Registered User (comment 54147): I know it because I read the original message from the reviewer on a listserve before Ed posted his entry. ED should’ve put quote marks but he did not.

AR – thanks.

Ed – I apologize for adding to the confusion (and I’m happy that you haven’t lost your sanity! ;)

Actually, AR is wrong. Those are my words, and I stand by them. The book is well written and it is the best example of the argument from design since Paley and the publisher was right to publish it given the incentives of the book publishing business. Obviously I don’t agree with the book or I wouldn’t have spent so much time pointing out all of the problems with Behe’s argument. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have been published, nor does it mean it’s not well written, nor does it mean it’s not provocative. The point of my post was not to say that the book should not have been published, it was only to point out that it’s absurd to claim, as Behe did, that the book went through more rigorous peer review than a scholarly article in a scientific journal. That’s hogwash. And no, I haven’t lost my sanity to consider the book well written and, to an uneducated audience, quite compelling.

Ed Brayton Wrote:

I haven’t lost my sanity to consider the book well written

I agree that it was well-written; a nice description of some amazingly complex biochemical systems. But then we get to the part towards the end where Behe is wondering why the scientific community isn’t heralding his revelations as the most important development in science since the Renaissance… (I’m paraphrasing; I don’t remember his exact words. But I do remember thinking “this guy is nuts!”.) That part… no, I wouldn’t call that well written.

I am sorry for having been confused regarding the source of the last paragraph in Ed’s otherwise excellent post. As to the evaluation of Behe’s book, I agree that it is well written - Behe has a way with words. However, it also is full of silly statements and propagates nonsense. It also shows Behe’s amazing level of self-admiration - he asserts that IC is a great discovery equaling those by Pasteur, Lavoisier, Darwin, etc., etc. The best argument in favor of ID? Hardly, given the fallaciousness of Behe’s concepts and the arbitratriness of argumentation. I think it is an obnoxious book and in an ideal world in would never be published.

His own vanity compelled him to testify and was his undoing on the witness stand.

When he found time to stop admiring hiself in the mirror his explanation for ID could have included space aliens.

Sounds Greek to me ;>

Re “The best argument in favor of ID? Hardly,”

Perhaps “best” in this context just means “all the others are even worse”?

Henry

His own vanity compelled him to testify and was his undoing on the witness stand.

I believe that “pride” is one of the Seven Deadly Sins.

Behe (and his fellow IDers) are now learning why.

Perhaps “best” in this context just means “all the others are even worse”?

Is there a context in which “best” means something else? The word “even” changes the tone, but not the denotation. I take “best” to mean that other arguments for ID are inferior to Behe’s, which could conceivably be true.

Hah!

About Michael Behe, 2005:

K.E. Wrote:

“His own vanity compelled him to testify and was his undoing on the witness stand.

When he found time to stop admiring hiself in the mirror his explanation for ID could have included space aliens.”

About William Jennings Bryan, 1925:

“His own vanity compelled him to testify and was his undoing on the witness stand.

When he found time to stop admiring hiself in the mirror his explanation for [Creation] could have included [angels with hammers].”

The best argument in favor of ID? Hardly, given the fallaciousness of Behe’s concepts and the arbitratriness of argumentation.

What’s your candidate for a better argument in favor of ID? What such argument wouldn’t be fallacious and arbitrary?

I think it is an obnoxious book and in an ideal world in would never be published.

In an ideal world, people like Behe and the concept of ID wouldn’t exist. But my ideal includes freedom of speech, so given that Behe wrote the book, it would be less than ideal for it to be suppressed.

When did anyone propose suppressing Behe’s book???

Talk about a strawman.

The issue is: what is the point of making creationist-pleasing confessions like “Behe’s book is well-written” and it’s “provocative” and “the best argument on the topic”?

What is the point? Who is served by such statements, other than those who seek to make money off this controversy?

Maybe later we can look forward to reading Behe describe Ed Brayton’s blog as “well-written” and “controversial” in spite of the fact that Behe thinks Ed’s arguments are absurd.

Then all this back-slapping starts to make sense.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Ed Brayton published on October 27, 2005 3:57 PM.

Shapiro on DBB Review was the previous entry in this blog.

Steve “Number 22” Henikoff is the next entry in this blog.

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