Forrest and Gross: Biochemistry by design

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Barbara Forrest and Paul Gross have a paper titled Biochemistry by design published in TRENDS in Biochemical Sciences Vol.32 No.7 , 2007. (10 pages including 1.75 pages of references) I am not surprised why the defense in the Kitzmiller trial tried to get Forrest removed as an expert witness.

Creationists are attempting to use biochemistry to win acceptance for their doctrine in the public mind and especially in state-funded schools. Biochemist Michael Behe is a major figure in this effort. His contention that certain cellular structures and biochemical processes – bacterial flagella, the blood-clotting cascade and the vertebrate immune system – cannot be the products of evolution has generated vigorous opposition from fellow scientists, many of whom have refuted Behe’s claims. Yet, despite these refutations and a decisive defeat in a US federal court case, Behe and his associates at the Discovery Institute continue to cultivate American supporters. They are also stepping up their efforts abroad and, worryingly, have achieved some success. Should biochemists (and other scientists) be concerned? We think they should be.

Forrest and Gross have been publishing their work in various venues, informing various audiences of the history, and motivations of the Intelligent Design movement. It’s the history and motivations which help understand why Intelligent Design has remained scientifically vacuous, nothing more than an argument from ignorance.

Forrest and Gross Wrote:

In the Kitzmiller trial, however, Behe’s evasion of the evidential responsibilities of his profession finally caught up with him. During the 11 years since publication of Darwin’s Black Box, he has traded on his public audience’s ignorance of science, making no attempt to reward their support with research results they could present to the school boards whom they petition on behalf of ID. Behe’s 1996 afirmation that ‘what I’m really eager to do is write grant proposals to do research on (…) intelligent design theory’ [1] has never progressed beyond eagerness. His response at an ID conference in 2000 to questions about his work was recorded by a disappointed attendee: ‘He was asked what he would do if he had control of all the funding. [His answer was:] keep it himself. And then he did say that he wanted someone else to do research in a laboratory to support his theory. Why wouldn’t he want to do his own research?’ [1]. Behe has never exercised his right as a member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology to present his ID arguments at the society’s annual meeting, announcing in 2001 that ‘I just don’t think that large scientific meetings are effective forums for presenting these ideas’ [1].

Behe is of course correct, the correct forums for presenting his ideas are not scientific conferences or scientific papers. A more profitable venue is through the publication of books which circumvent scientific scrutiny.

Forrest and Gross Wrote:

After also admitting in 2001 that his definition of IC is flawed and promising ‘to repair this defect in future work’ [1], he testified under cross-examination on 19 October 2005 that he had produced no revision [41]. Nonetheless, on the very same day he stated that, to be convinced that the vertebrate immune system is the product of evolution, he would require a ‘step-by-step, mutation-by-mutation analysis’ and a good deal of other ‘relevant information’ [42]. When asked why he himself has never done such research, he replied, ‘I am not confident that the immune system arose through Darwinian processes, and so I do not think that such a study would be fruitful’ [42].

This shows that not only is ID scientifically vacuous and based on an argument from ignorance but also that ID is effectively a ‘science stopper’.

Note that Behe had to face fierce criticism at conferences which were creationist friendly, imagine the criticisms at science conferences

It was sad to see the ‘deer in headlights’ look on Dembski’s face as he faced a forest of hands wanting to criticize his theory. And the critics were those like Ide Trotter and John Baumgardner who should have agreed with him. And I would point you to this, from a Christian mother who home schools and with whom I am now having a conversation via e-mail. She didn’t want her name used because she didn’t want any crank e-mail. (She is a bit afraid of the mail she might get from Christians on this!).

Source: Waco, The Final Comments (Glenn Morton)

Forrest and Gross’s contributions to exposing the foundation of Intelligent Design, its scientific vacuity as well as where ID is going, are immensely valuable as they help expose what many have come to know as a scientifically vacuous and theologically risky concept, namely “Intelligent Design”.

If people still doubt the vacuity of ID, let them ask a simple question: How does ID explain the bacterial flagella or any other ‘designed’ system?

Let’s see how Dembski ‘answered’ a similar question:

Dembski Wrote:

As for your example, I’m not going to take the bait. You’re asking me to play a game: “Provide as much detail in terms of possible causal mechanisms for your ID position as I do for my Darwinian position.” ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories. If ID is correct and an intelligence is responsible and indispensable for certain structures, then it makes no sense to try to ape your method of connecting the dots. True, there may be dots to be connected. But there may also be fundamental discontinuities, and with IC systems that is what ID is discovering.”

41 Comments

There’s another venue quite appropriate for Behe–late-night and weekend television, noted for infomercials about getting rich quick, coffee enemas, and other nonsense. There was one today selling franchises for distributing pills to pop in your gas tank for increased mileage and power; one that led me to write the station was presented by Balco, just before the sportdrugs crap hit the fan. Perhaps he could even get an endorsement from Uri Geller.

Barbara Forrest is a great proponent of good science education, and she is one of the most eloquent critics of the frauds out in Seattle. I love to hear the DI clowns squeal and moan when they try to scurry for cover like cockroaches when Dr. Forrest shines the light on them.

I noticed this rather crude sketch by Linnaeus of c. design proponentsists. It’s from his Lost Notebooks of Cryptozoology, so I don’t imagine most people have seen this.

I must say, Dembski does a much better job than I can of explaining why ID is a science stopper.

PvM, mark, waldteufel, Marion Delgado, Richiyaado,

I argue that the posts above bear indications of having been designed (written) for a purpose.

By what Mechanism did you guys specify the complex and meaningful sequences of letters in your posts above?

I am trying to connect the dots here, and provide a mechanism for intelligent design. Can you help me out?

Sincerely,

MS

Their fingers struck the keys on the keyboard.

fundamental discontinuities

Lol, I think he means “poof”.

Blair Wrote:

Barbara Forrest is a philospher, not a scientist.

Paul Gross and Barbara Forrest wrote a treatise over the history of creationism, Creationism’s Trojan Horse, which you might have heard of.

“Paul R. Gross’s Ph.D. in Zoology was awarded in 1954. He is University Professor of Life Sciences, emeritus, at the University of Virginia, and holds honorary degrees from the Medical College of Ohio and Brown University. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. With Norman Levitt, he authored Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science, Johns Hopkins, 1994.”

“Barbara Forrest earned a Ph.D. in philosophy in 1988 and is professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University. Her research on intelligent design for Creationism’s Trojan Horse was first published as an article, “The Wedge at Work: How Intelligent Design Creationism Is Wedging Its Way into the Cultural and Academic Mainstream,” in Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics, ed. Robert T. Pennock, MIT Press, 2001. She was one of the six expert witnesses for the plaintiffs in the first lawsuit filed over intelligent design creationism, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. … She is the 2006 co-recipient with Kenneth R. Miller of the Association for Cell Biology’s Public Service Award.

( http://www.creationismstrojanhorse.com/ )

Blair Wrote:

his chances of getting a grant in this area were about the same as a snowballs chance in hell.

There could be a problem if someone choose to work on rubbish (or anti-science as is the case here) instead of consistently producing science. :-)

But as we all know, the fact seems to be that the players in the ID movement have chosen not to search for grants what so ever, for example at places such as the Templeton foundation which subsequently expressed their bafflement. Probably because it would expose their IDiocy that much faster, don’t you think?

Mark Studdock,

As for your example, I’m not going to take the bait. You’re asking me to play a game: “Provide as much detail in terms of possible causal mechanisms for your intelligent writing position as I do for my naturalistic position.” Intelligent Writing Theory is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not IWT’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories. If IWT is correct and an intelligence is responsible and indispensable for composing sentences, then it makes no sense to try to ape your method of connecting the letters. True, there may be letters to be connected. But there may also be fundamental discontinuities, and with systems of specified complexity like written sentences, that is what IWT is discovering.

his chances of getting a grant in this area were about the same as a snowballs chance in hell.

In fact, the Evil Darwinian Conspiracy (EDC) has such a stranglehold on the scientific process that they have managed to prevent the IDiots from proposing, even in the most informal terms, what research they would do if they could. EDC censors evey word spoken, written, published, or posted on the internet in such a way as to make it falsely appear that we live in a world where no scientific theory of ID exists, despite IDers’ constant attempts to communicate that predictive, falsifiable, emprically-supported theory they have worked so long and hard on.

As an example, check out uncommondescent.com, where the EDC intervenes in real-time to prevent UD from ever talking about anything but farty flash animations, bible codes, and Davescot’s latest failed diets.

Larsson, thank you for the verification that Barbara Forrest is a philosopher, not a scientist.

Barbara Forrest is a philospher, not a scientist.

And a darn good one at that.

Of course, after the publication of his book, and the subsequent noteriety, his chances of getting a grant in this area were about the same as a snowballs chance in hell.

Certainly combined with an attitude that seems to follow from ID, namely a science killer.

Behe Wrote:

, ‘I am not confident that the immune system arose through Darwinian processes, and so I do not think that such a study would be fruitful’

Does anyone know what grant applications have been submitted by ID proponents?

Larsson, thank you for the verification that Barbara Forrest is a philosopher, not a scientist.

Do you have a point? Other than the one on top of your head?

F.O.P.B.C.C. or possibly Blair wrote:

Larsson, thank you for the verification that Barbara Forrest is a philosopher, not a scientist.

And since ID is a (rather poor) philosophical position and not a scientific one, who better to critique its merits than an exceedingly well qualified philosopher.

By the way how many of the primary ID proponents are scientists, Nelson? Dembski? Behe? I guess one outta three ain’t too bad. What is it they say about people in glass houses?

Re “What is it they say about people in glass houses?”

That they change clothes in the basement? ;)

Frank J,

You hit the nail write on the head. IWT is only about identifying IW. Thus, if IWT is analogous to IDT, then Dembski’s quote above is nothing to poke fun at,(and he is right).

MS

I would recommend this article to my friends that teach high school Chemistry or Biology.

Evidence from Biochemical Pathways in Favor of Unfinished Evolution rather than Intelligent Design

By Behrman, Edward J.; Marzluf, George A.; Bentley, Ronald

J. Chem. Educ. 2004, 81, 1051.

ben:

Do you have a point? Other than the one on top of your head?

(Not that you were asking me, but…)

Yes.

Only infrequently.

There’s literally nothing to debate about here.

A multi-name-using mega-troll is trying to make something out of the issue that good philosophers, as well as good scientists, can see that ID is junk.

Actually, the average person in the street, when ID is explained to them, can see that it’s junk.

If philosophers like Barbara Forrest can argue against ID, then philosophers can also argue for it?

Right?

In other words, its not just in the hands of scientists anymore.

And, as we all know, fraud in science is rampant.

Just google “fraud in science” for a few laughs

Blair, You are welcome to do whatever you want. Just do it somewhere else.

Network to Command Center! Network to Command Center!

Important information to follow. Stop.

Barbara Forrest is a philosopher. Stop.

Barbara Forrest has documented the historical development of the ID movement from its creationist roots. Stop.

Barbara Forrest doesn’t argue for or against ID. Stop.

She documents the facts using the original words of ID proponents. Stop.

The facts speak for themselves. Stop.

Intelligent design is creationism. Stop.

Emergency request to Basement Command Center. Get some oxygen. Over and out.

If philosophers like Barbara Forrest can argue against ID, then philosophers can also argue for it?

Forrest is not so much arguing against ID, whose vacuity has been determined by scientists, but showing that ID has a strong foundation in a creationist history.

If philosophers like Barbara Forrest can argue against ID, then philosophers can also argue for it?

Right?

In other words, its not just in the hands of scientists anymore.

And, as we all know, fraud in science is rampant.

Just google “fraud in science” for a few laughs

is it the insanity or the drugs that makes people like this post such extreme logical nonsequitors on a regular basis?

If philosophers like Barbara Forrest can argue against ID, then philosophers can also argue for it?

Right?

Yup. An at the end of the day, it will be the job of rational people to figure out which side of the debate is telling the truth.

Let’s see; Barbara has a demonstrated track record of decades of meticulous research, and almost rabid tenacity at digging out important little details from the background noise.

Meanwhile, the ID philosophers have a track record of making s**t up and changing their story every time someone catches them at it.

Yeah, I’d say there’s a comparison to be had, thanks for pointing that out.

But why stop there? After all, philosophers aren’t really experts in the field anyway, lets try…

If scientists can argue against ID, then scientists can also argue for it.

Oh - it’s just that none of them do.

Now please, back under the bridge before the other trolls start to miss you.

Mark Studdock:

My posts are irreducibly complex. You cannot reproduce them with fewer than 5 kittens on the keys.

Barbara Forrest is very good at sending flaming arrows at ID, but “strangely”, she doesn’t put the money where her mouth is.

One thing is to stand (very) far away from her opponents, and pretend that you have uncovered masses of theocrats trying to overturn the Constitution, quite another thing is to sit down, and actually engage in scientific debates with ID proponents.

A few months ago Dr Dembski invited her to a debate. Any answer yet? Seeing that she would have to defend the impossible, and taking into consideration the “sucess” the Darwin-Only lobby has had in debates,I would not be surprised if she followed the path of other religious Darwinists, and avoided debating with Darwin-skeptics. After all, wasn’t religious Darwinist Dr Eugenie Scott who advised Darwinists to avoid debating about evolution with skeptics? Things have become THAT bad for the Darwin priesthood, I guess.

Blair, the troll Wrote:

Larsson, thank you for the verification that Barbara Forrest is a philosopher, not a scientist.

I am glad you can show that you can read.

Of course, you missed the part where it says that she has done research on creationism, where she worked together with a biologist to ascertain that it was research and that this research was what you asked about.

So you also show that you can’t understand what you read.

I’m so sorry that I forgot to bold that sufficiently (and btw, that I forgot to say that the earlier emphasis was mine). That better?

Blairir, the Tolkian stone troll Wrote:

If philosophers like Barbara Forrest can argue against ID, then philosophers can also argue for it?

It is not the same question. Forrest and Gross are describing the history of ID and its lack of science.

Philosophers of science could argue about the later point as philosophers, but it was ephemeral - if ID had been science it had published results years ago.

Mark Studdock Wrote:

You hit the nail write on the head. IWT is only about identifying IW. Thus, if IWT is analogous to IDT, then Dembski’s quote above is nothing to poke fun at,(and he is right).

That would have been the case if ID”T” were only about identifying ID. Unfortunately it is always sold additionally as an alternative to “Darwinism” (BTW, I’m convinced that they use “Darwinism” so much because they know that it is not an alternative to evolution). If that isn’t bad enough, even if ID”T” didn’t claim to be an alternative to anything, the pathetic habit of deliberately avoiding even a basic outline of what the designer did and when, makes even an analogy to the usual “design” sciences (e.g. archaeology, forensics) fall apart. I trust that you read the link in my comment above.

…Dr Dembski invited her to a debate.

Was that the same Dr. Dembski who bragged about his “vise strategy,” how he would overcome the evil Darwinists in debate, if only they could be made to speak under oath–and then, as Kitzmiller v. Dover began tucked his tail between his legs and ran under the bed? The same Dembski that has left behind him a field full of unanswered critiques and refutations, who owes somebody some single-malt scotch, and who is frequently quoted as evidence that ID is not science?

Mats wrote:

“Barbara Forrest is very good at sending flaming arrows at ID, but “strangely”, she doesn’t put the money where her mouth is.”

Does testifying in a Federal Court not count as putting your money where your mouth is?

“One thing is to stand (very) far away from her opponents, and pretend that you have uncovered masses of theocrats trying to overturn the Constitution, quite another thing is to sit down, and actually engage in scientific debates with ID proponents.”

ID does not hold scientific debates — they hold propaganda events. As to standing far away, Dr. Forrest did testify in a Federal Court, under oath. Dembski ran away and Behe was thoroughly discredited.

“A few months ago Dr Dembski invited her to a debate. Any answer yet?”

Why should Dr. Forrest take up his challenge now? Especially in a venue that has no rules of evidence (ie. where Dembski can lie and distort without consequence)? Dembski had his chance in court, but ran away.

“After all, wasn’t religious Darwinist Dr Eugenie Scott who advised Darwinists to avoid debating about evolution with skeptics?”

Skeptics or theocrats? Pick one — they are not the same. Anyway, why debate? The question of ID as science was argued in front of a real judge in a real court. It lost. Badly. Live with it.

BTW evolution is not a religion. That has also been settled by a real court with a real judge.

Foot and Mouth:

Barbara successfully testified during the Dover trial, Dembski did not show up but still charged for his ‘expert’ testimony.

See the difference?

Under oath, ID proponents could not withstand the onslaught and the scientific vacuity of ID was quickly exposed. Barbara added the coup de grace by showing that ID was mostly creationism in disguise.

And victory followed

While it is interesting to note that Dr. Forrest showed up for the Dover trial, and Dr. Dembski did not, it is more significant that Dr. Forrest, like many of the pro-evolution people, presents her work to critical examination of the peer-reviewed literature, which is in striking contrast with the anti-evolution movement.

Mats wrote: “A few months ago Dr Dembski invited her to a debate.”

So what? Have any scientific disputes EVER been resolved by a debate? Scientific disputes are resolved by new data.

I invite both you and Dr Dr Dembski to produce some new data from the testing of predictions of ID hypotheses.

Neither of you will, because you don’t believe in this crap enough to put any effort or money into it.

A few months ago Dr Dembski invited her to a debate. Any answer yet?”

Why should Dr. Forrest take up his challenge now?

Because she talks a lot but defends very Little. Like I said above, anyone can play Barb’s game.

Especially in a venue that has no rules of evidence (ie. where Dembski can lie and distort without consequence)?

Actually, last time I checked, Dr Dembski is the one who believes in absolute moral laws, and Dr Forrest is the humanist/atheist/materialist. So if anyone is more prone to “lie and distort” that someone is Barbara, since she doesn’t feel accountable to anyone, while Bill does.

“After all, wan’t religious Darwinist Dr Eugenie Scott who advised Darwinists to avoid debating about evolution with skeptics?”

Skeptics or theocrats? Pick one — they are not the same. Anyway, why debate?

So that she can defeat Dembski, and everyone can see that what she wrote in her storytelling books was true.

The question of ID as science was argued in front of a real judge in a real court. It lost. Badly. Live with it.

Yup. The ACLU-written judge’s opinion decided what is and what is not science. I guess that settles it!

Actually, last time I checked, Dr Dembski is the one who believes in absolute moral laws, and Dr Forrest is the humanist/atheist/materialist. So if anyone is more prone to “lie and distort” that someone is Barbara, since she doesn’t feel accountable to anyone, while Bill does.

This is the most moronic attempt at an argument I believe I’ve ever seen.

And I live with a (granted, rhetorically prodigious) five-year-old.

Dembski the Paper Tiger.

Hey, Mats, get a clue.

Dembski was present when Forrest gave her deposition BEFORE the Kitzmiller trial kicked off. Dembski heard Forrest’s analysis of ID, Pandas and People and the whole shebang. Fortunately for Dembski he wore his brown dockers otherwise he might have been embarrassed.

Dembski dropped out soon after Forrest’s deposition. He didn’t have the guts then to go up against her in a court of law where he’d be required to tell the truth.

Running away from Kitzmiller was the only demonstration of smarts Dembski has provided in his entire career.

Forrest proved herself in court where she was cross-examined by the most excellent defense lawyers. You can’t deny that.

Dembski, on the other hand, tucked his tail between his legs and ran like a scalded dog. No cross-examination for the Fig Newton of Intelligent Design.

So, Mats, what’s your point?

Comment #188341

Posted by Mats on July 17, 2007 3:53 AM (e)

Barbara Forrest is very good at sending flaming arrows at ID, but “strangely”, she doesn’t put the money where her mouth is.

One thing is to stand (very) far away from her opponents, and pretend that you have uncovered masses of theocrats trying to overturn the Constitution, quite another thing is to sit down, and actually engage in scientific debates with ID proponents.

A few months ago Dr Dembski invited her to a debate. Any answer yet? Seeing that she would have to defend the impossible, and taking into consideration the “sucess” the Darwin-Only lobby has had in debates,I would not be surprised if she followed the path of other religious Darwinists, and avoided debating with Darwin-skeptics. After all, wasn’t religious Darwinist Dr Eugenie Scott who advised Darwinists to avoid debating about evolution with skeptics? Things have become THAT bad for the Darwin priesthood, I guess.

Dr. Forrest did put her money where her mouth was - in a neutral environment subject to cross examination with a team of “expert” witnesses to pour over her testimony and work product to rebut her assertions. The venue was Kitzmiller vs Dover. She WON.

As for her not showing up to a Dog and Pony show under the control of Dembski who, not being under oath, and in the childish debate forum of zingers and side-stepping questions… I’ll be blunt, why waste your time debating someone who won’t debate but is just there to hold you out as an “Evil Darwinist” in the Big Tent Revival show he’s wanting to put on?

Honest debate doesn’t happen with Evolution denialists. What happens are slick, massively wrong presentations given by charismatic, flim-flam spewing liars and sucked down by the faithful whose critical thinking is, by and large, completely shut-off. It takes more time to correct one erroneous point, than it does for one of these hucksters to make a dozen. In short, you’re simply over-whelmed with the lies and bullshit. A creationist, if a debate goes long enough, will spew well over a hundred lies. With some, (Ken Ham, Prison Boy) virtually every sentence contains a misrepresentation serious enough, and refuted in the past so they’ve lost the “ignorance of error” defense, that any reasonable person (who has been involved in the issue for a long-enough time) would consider to be deliberate lies as correct solutions have been presented, yet they still, deliberately, repeat the same wrong information.

As a general rule, you never debate a creationist at a church, bible college, etc. You also never let anyone use their slick, mis-leading, rapid-fire slide show. You make them answer the debate questions fully and the answers must be refereed by panel of judges, who must be scientifically competent to rule on the scientific issues, and must make a ruling after each answer to it’s completeness and accuracy and the flaws of the answer be illustrated. Creationists won’t come to these debates, because the loose the ability to lie and play to the ignorance of the audience. Rather, they’d rather trot out their dog and pony show at a mega church and get “love offerings” from the audience.

anyone can play Barb’s game

So play it. Write a book or two, become learned enough in the subject to be admitted as an expert witness on a relevant case, and provide pivotal testimony for the winning side. Until then, “anyone can play” is just you talking out your ass.

Dr Dembski is the one who believes in absolute moral laws

Not including, apparently, any prohibition against lying.

if anyone is more prone to “lie and distort” that someone is Barbara, since she doesn’t feel accountable to anyone

How the hell do you know what and who she feels accountable to? Easy answer: You don’t, you’re just talking out your ass again. And if you have data that shows that religious people are more moral than the non-religious, please provide it.

Anyway, why debate?

So that she can defeat Dembski

Dembski is already defeated, by the weakness of his own arguments and his pathological inability to tell the truth. You’re one of the few too dim to recognize that. The fact that Mrs. Forrest chooses different venues than you’d prefer in which to do her work apparently frustrates you, turning you into a blithering moron.

The ACLU-written judge’s opinion decided what is and what is not science

Your beloved Dr. Dembski thought pretty highly of Judge Jones before Jones shredded his pet idea. The ACLU doesn’t tell Jones what to do; if he thought the ACLU brief was sufficient to stand in large part as his own, it was his prerogative to use it. The propriety of this practice has been well-documented.

I guess that settles it!

If the IDiots really thought that Dover was a clear-cut case decided the wrong way by an “activist” judge, why isn’t anyone on the ID side suggesting another school district be found, in a more favorable jurisdiction, to promulgate the same policy in order to have it presumably survive any court challenges and set the precedent you’d prefer? The answer is obvious; nobody really thinks the Dover policy has a snowball’s chance in hell of withstanding legal challenge anywhere, “activist judges” or no. As usual, the ID side is just making a lot of noise with little substance.

These are major objections I’ve always had to ID. Argument from ignorance and end of discussion. It would be a great way for right-wingers to shut down science research - too complex so it must have been designed and what’s more, further funding would be a waste of money. I wonder how long before we start hearing about “intelligent climate” - climate can’t change because God designed it. I also consider ID bad religion, as if God was such a poor designer he had to fine-tune his concept over and over.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on July 15, 2007 7:01 PM.

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