While we are piling on Casey Luskin…

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.. I might add a few brief notes. After Carl Zimmer’s Unicycle-bicycle transitional form, the detailed rebuttal by Keith Ken Miller (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3), and Nick Matzke revealing that Behe wrote the Pandas’s clotting chapter that Luskin dismisses, there is not much left for me to add*.

I want to highlight two things though. One is a quote that keeps turning up in discussions of Behe’s concept of Irreducible Complexity.

Just as none of the parts of the Foghorn system is used for anything except controlling the fall of the telephone pole, so none of the cascade proteins are used for anything except controlling [he formation of a blood clot. Yet in the absence of any one of the components, blood does not clot, and the system fails. (Behe 1996, pp. 85-86)

Actually, the clotting cascade proteins do have functions other than clotting, indeed Casey’s so-called “Irreducible Core” proteins have other important functions. I go into greater detail in this post about how these functions may have pre-adapted the clotting proteins for their role in clotting. This exposes a major flaw in the concept of irreducible complexity (read the post for the full argument).

Casey also chides Miller for not doing any knock-out experiments on blood clotting systems. This is heavily ironic as no ID proponent, not even Behe, has done any experiments on the blood clotting system. As I point out in my post Behe vs Lampreys+, it’s the evolutionary biologists that have been doing all the heavy lifting in regard to understanding the clotting system. In fact I issued a challenge to the ID proponents, the Amphioxus genome had just been published at http://genome.jgi-psf.org/Brafl1/Brafl1.home.html. Amphioxus is a primitive chordate, more primitive than lampreys, that clot their haemolymph. I challenged the ID proponents to predict which coagulation factors are present in Amphioxus, search the Amphioxus genome database and report on whether the genes found match their predictions.

Since then, silence. I can tell you one thing for sure. The Amphioxus has no gene for fibrinogen, the final step in the modern clotting cascade, yet it still clots its haemolymph. So the very basis of the “Irreducible Core” that Casey goes on about is absent in these animals, and one of Behe’s iconic pathways is exposed as reducible.

Notes:
UPDATE: Yeah, yeah: I can’t spell when writing at 1 am in the morning. But the most embarrassing bit was I got Ken Miller’s name wrong (sorry Ken). Still, the science is right.
* I could have contributed sooner, but I could be playing frisbee on the beach with my kids or surfing the internet. Guess which one I chose.
+This post also has a very nice diagram of the reducibly complex clotting system that Ken Miller discusses (section 4, “An Irreducible Core”). This diagram looks eerily similar to the diagram that Casey uses, as he copied the diagram that I provided for Barbara Forrest and Paul Gross for “Biochemistry by design,” Trends in Biochemical Sciences, Vol. 32(7):301-310 (2007). He’s made a few minor modifications (hint Casey, the correct citation method is “diagram redrawn from” not “information obtained from”), but if he asked nicely, I could have given him the original diagram.

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From here: Casey also chides Miller for not doing any knock-out experiments on blood clotting systems. This is heavily ironic as no ID proponent, not even Behe, has done any experiments on the blood clotting system. As I point out... Read More

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Behe never followed his own rules for showing that something (excepting a mousetrap) is really irreducible. From Darwin’s Black Box p 42:

We must ask how we can recognize an irreducible complex system. … The first step in determining irreducible complexity is to specify both the function of the system and all system components. An irreducibly complex object will be composed of several parts, all of which contribute to the function. To avoid the problems encountered with extremely complex objects (such as eyes, beetles or other multicellular biological systems) I will begin with a simple mechanical example: the humble mousetrap.

The function of a mousetrap is to immobilize a mouse ….

Behe then goes on to list the five parts, adding parenthetically that there are also assorted staples to hold the system together. Then:

The second step in determining if a system is irreducible complex is to ask if all the components are required for the function. In this example the answer is clearly yes.

And justification of this completes page 42. This is one thing Luskin is right about. The way the check if something is IC is to systematically check whether it still works with any one of its parts missing.

But now let’s look at page 43. First there is a drawing of a mousetrap, and then:

To feel the full force of the conclusion that a system is irreducible complex and therefore has no functional precursors, we need to distinguish between a physical precursor and a conceptual precursor. The trap described above is not the only system that can immobilize a mouse. On other occasions my family has used a glue trap. In theory, at least, one can use a box propped open with a stick that could be tripped. Or one can simply shoot the mouse with a BB gun. These are not physical precursors to the standard mousetrap, however, since they cannot be transformed, step by Darwinian step, into a trap with a base, hammer, spring, catch and holding bar. [italics in the original, bold added by me]

Note that a functional or physical precursor means an evolutionary precursor. The whole mystique of IC is the constant bogus conflation of “all parts required” and “couldn’t have evolved.”

While the evolution of blood clotting is quite interesting, let’s also keep in mind that the creationist notion that evolution wouldn’t lead to co-adapted parts is absurd to start with.

Hey…uhh…I think that should be piling on, not “pilling on,” which would mean, I guess, throwing aspirins.

Ian Musgrave: This is heavily ironic as no ID proponent, not even Behe, has done any experiments on the blood clotting system.

Pete Dunkelberg: Behe never followed his own rules for showing that something (excepting a mousetrap) is really irreducible.

Guys, guys, don’t try and shoehorn Behe into some kind of stereotypical caricature of a scientist. He spends his time on more fruitful endeavors.

From Behe’s cross-examination at Dover

Q. And you haven’t undertaken to try and figure out those [step-by-step Darwinian developements of the vertebrate immune system]?

A. 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.

Q. It would be a waste of time?

A. It would not be fruitful.

Q. And you also propose tests such as the one we saw in “Reply to My Critics” about how those Darwinians can test your proposition?

A. Yes.

Q. But you don’t do those tests?

A. Well, I think someone who thought an idea was incorrect such as intelligent design would be motivated to try to falsify that, and certainly there have been several people who have tried to do exactly that, and I myself would prefer to spend time in what I would consider to be more fruitful endeavors.

Not just fruitful, but regal endeavors, like collecting royalties.

Since then, silence. I can tell you one thing for sure. The Amphioxus has no gene for fibrinogen, the final step in the modern clotting cascade, yet it still clots its haemolymph. So the very basis of the “Irreducible Core” that Casey goes on about is absent in these animals, and one of Behe’s iconic pathways is exposed as reducible.

No problem. You just need a little re-wording.

“The components of the system [ed. IC core] are fibrinogen, prothrombin, Stuart factor, and proaccelerin.”

Saving IC is as easy as that. Clearly that’s what Behe really meant and how dare Miller missrepresent him like he did!!!

Just Bob said:

Hey…uhh…I think that should be piling on, not “pilling on,” which would mean, I guess, throwing aspirins.

Perhaps the word we want is “pilloring”?

Wow, Zimmer, Miller Matzke and now Musgrave, all shooting the poor (& I mean that in both senses) messenger. That means one thing - the “Darwinists” are panicking.

Just kidding - I couldn’t resist!

Luskin is so wrong in so many ways that I can’t think of any way to give it justice other than with long, detailed rebuttals with plenty of technical references. Unfortunately such rebuttals won’t be read and understood by many people who might be impressed by ID’s sound bites but are not wedded to their childhood fairy tales. Luskin and other DI activists will certainly spin the rebuttals as “Darwinist hysteria,” and mine the rebuttals for more juicy facts to misrepresent. Granted, their spin might not be read and understood by many people either, but if it reaches even a slightly larger audience, the DI wins the round.

So it’s not surprising that Miller ends his rebuttal on a calm, but cautionary note. AIUI, during the next trial there will be a new book (“Explore Evolution”?) peddled for ID’s replacement strategy (“strengths and weaknesses”?), so the description of IC in “Pandas” and any contradictions with “Darwin’s Black Box” might be moot. The DI certainly has more rhetorical tricks up its sleeve – and less clumsy messengers than Luskin if necessary. Maybe Dembski himself might show up at the next trial (yeah, right).

A commenter on another thread was worried that a judge who’s not as science-literate as Judge Jones could easily tip the outcome in the DI’s favor. While common wisdom is that a Scalia-type authoritarian would be most DI-friendly, I would not be surprised if a liberal judge rules in favor of the next scam. After all, the DI is hell-bent on liberalizing the boundaries of science to accommodate ID – and astrology, as Behe admitted at Dover.

These excellent reviews of ID/Creationist distortions and misconceptions come at a good time.

I don’t know if anyone else here is experiencing this, but in the last few weeks there has been a sudden upsurge in letters to the editor of our local newspaper pushing the ID/Creationist arguments. There seems to be a “disturbance in the Force.” Apparently local fundamentalist churches are putting on the war paint for another battle.

I just sent a letter to our local newspaper rebutting a really stupid revival of the “entropy argument”. There have also been a number of others pushing the “fairness or academic freedom” argument, one complaining about persecution, and another pushing other creationist misconceptions.

The letter about entropy was from a former local who moved to Texas. He is obviously fired up by events taking place there.

If indeed there is a new war being started, perhaps getting a convenient updated collection of all these takedowns would be helpful to any public school science teachers lurking out there.

gabriel said:

Just Bob said:

Hey…uhh…I think that should be piling on, not “pilling on,” which would mean, I guess, throwing aspirins.

Perhaps the word we want is “pilloring”?

Actually, wouldn’t that be “pillorying”?

Hey Lazy Day,

Yeah, Mikey Behe is missing his chance alright:

Lazy Day said:

Ian Musgrave: This is heavily ironic as no ID proponent, not even Behe, has done any experiments on the blood clotting system.

Pete Dunkelberg: Behe never followed his own rules for showing that something (excepting a mousetrap) is really irreducible.

Guys, guys, don’t try and shoehorn Behe into some kind of stereotypical caricature of a scientist. He spends his time on more fruitful endeavors.

From Behe’s cross-examination at Dover

Q. And you haven’t undertaken to try and figure out those [step-by-step Darwinian developements of the vertebrate immune system]?

A. 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.

Q. It would be a waste of time?

A. It would not be fruitful.

Q. And you also propose tests such as the one we saw in “Reply to My Critics” about how those Darwinians can test your proposition?

A. Yes.

Q. But you don’t do those tests?

A. Well, I think someone who thought an idea was incorrect such as intelligent design would be motivated to try to falsify that, and certainly there have been several people who have tried to do exactly that, and I myself would prefer to spend time in what I would consider to be more fruitful endeavors.

Not just fruitful, but regal endeavors, like collecting royalties.

Since his American publisher also publishes “Star Trek” books, he’s missing his true calling in life. Am still waiting for him to relent and co-write with my “buddy” Bill Dembski, the definitive textbook on Klingon Cosmology. Now that would be far more profitable than continuing as one of the key Dishonesty Institute mendacious intellectual pornographers eagerly prostituting themselves on behalf of Intelligent Design creationism.

Cheers,

John

This doesn’t have to do specifically with this article, but I have to vent, and I’ve got nowhere else more appropriate than Panda’s Thumb.

At some point, I’m not sure how, I got on the DI’s mailing list. Worse yet, it’s on their financial mailing list, asking me to contribute. I very definitely never asked for this. But occasionally there are some nuggets. Like this one, to encourage us to give money:

Jesse Kilgore was an earnest young college student who loved to debate issues. But just a few weeks ago, Jesse killed himself.

According to friends and relatives, Jesse had read biologist Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion and was devastated by it. One of Jesse’s relatives recalled a recent conversation:

“[Jesse] mentioned the book he had been reading - The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins - and how it along with the science classes he had taken had eroded his faith. Jesse was always great about defending his beliefs, but somehow, the professors and the book had presented him information that he found to be irrefutable.”

When I read Jesse’s story, my heart broke–not only for Jesse, but for all of the other students who are facing similar despair right now.

Ideas do have consequences, and the Darwinists’ assertion that life is the product of an unguided process can have a devastating impact on young hearts and minds.

Where to begin. Let’s start off with, of course, this is a sad thing to hear about, the death of this young man, Jesse.

But…We have to assume that the facts are correct as the DI stated them. As we all know, that’s a big If. The DI might even believe them to be true, but nothing like a court investigation was probably done- this is all word-of-mouth-, and so the DI’s belief that this is true doesn’t make it so.

But let us assume that the story is all true. Obviously, the DI is hoping to correlate in our minds the religious/philosophical beliefs of Dawkins, with evolution. They want us to see that everyone who believes in evolution is a “godless heathen”. This is supported by their use of the word “Darwinist”, their feeble attempt to make acceptance of evolution into a religion. As we all know here, Dawkins beliefs on religion and evolution are one way of supporting evolution, but definitely not the only way.

Third, I’m sorry, but this Jesse guy really didn’t have a strong hold on his faith, if he let himself be convinced by reading Dawkins’ book (plus a few science classes). I think we have an inkling of that from the claim that he was always “defending his beliefs”. It smacks of one who “doth protest too much”.

Fourth, this Jesse guy seems to be a very confusing mix of literate and illiterate. He evidently lets a book really impact him, which is good- books should do this to us. But he evidently doesn’t want to bother enough, or is that unaware of literature, to investigate the scores of books out there by people like Falk and Miller that talk about how faith and evolution can coexist.

This leads to the fifth point, that it sounds like, in truth, there was something more serious going on in Jesse’s psyche than simply responding to Dawkins’ call.

Sixth, I’m forced to agree with the DI: ideas do have consequences. We all know the consequences of not studying evolution, and the great death toll that this will incur, in the world of antibiotics alone.

But, if we are to take the letter at face value, evidently Jesse, a smart guy, found what Dawkins wrote to be irrefutable. And evidently, the DI is not in favor of this. They don’t like the idea that smart people would find evidence irrefutable. I am forced to conclude that the DI actually would want to cover up evidence, or keep it from going out- based on this letter they sent me.

Lastly, the letter is an obvious appeal to people of faith, to encourage faith, and support religion. As a man of faith, and a member of the same religion of the majority of those at the DI, I have no problem with any organization trying to promote their faith. I have a problem when a group like the DI claims it is not, and yet sends out unsolicited solicitation letters like this one.

A quick question:

Casey also chides Miller for not doing any knock-out experiments on blood clotting systems.

I thought somebody had done knockout experiments on the mammalian blood-clotting cascade. Several years ago, in fact. I can’t find the reference, but IIRC somebody took some white mice and divided them into two groups. Group A got one essential gene in the clotting cascade knocked out. Group B got a different, also essential gene knocked out. As expected, offspring of both groups of mice were severely affected by the knockouts, because their blood would not clot properly.

However, the researcher then bred Group A and Group B mice together. The A-B hybrid offspring were missing both knocked-out genes – but their blood clotted normally.

wolfwalker said:

A quick question:

Casey also chides Miller for not doing any knock-out experiments on blood clotting systems.

I thought somebody had done knockout experiments on the mammalian blood-clotting cascade. Several years ago, in fact. I can’t find the reference, but IIRC somebody took some white mice and divided them into two groups. Group A got one essential gene in the clotting cascade knocked out. Group B got a different, also essential gene knocked out. As expected, offspring of both groups of mice were severely affected by the knockouts, because their blood would not clot properly.

However, the researcher then bred Group A and Group B mice together. The A-B hybrid offspring were missing both knocked-out genes – but their blood clotted normally.

Not entirely normally, but they survived very well in the laboratory environment and formed clots almost as well as wild-type mice. See Clotted rot for rotten clots for details (when you get to the mouse images, put your hand over the captions and try and work out which is the fibrinogen deficent mouse). Now, if a modern vertebrate with a high pressure blood system can survive without fibrinogen, a primitive egg-laying vertebrate would do quite well, don’t you think? The Amphioxus does, one wonders what a fibrinogen knockout lamprey would do? Now there is a research project for ID advocates. Any takers?

Jedidiah Palosaari said:

This doesn’t have to do specifically with this article, but I have to vent, and I’ve got nowhere else more appropriate than Panda’s Thumb.

I hate to say it, but who programmed poor Jesse from childhood with a false world-view making him susceptible to the cognitive dissonance that Dawkin’s intellectual illumination would engender? It cuts both ways.

Steve Fonken said:

Jedidiah Palosaari said:

This doesn’t have to do specifically with this article, but I have to vent, and I’ve got nowhere else more appropriate than Panda’s Thumb.

I hate to say it, but who programmed poor Jesse from childhood with a false world-view making him susceptible to the cognitive dissonance that Dawkin’s intellectual illumination would engender? It cuts both ways.

Whether that story is true or not, hese people are sick.

We can’t know what Jesse Kilgore went through. Who can know what path led to those October woods?

But I think that part of it, at least, was that Jesse Kilgore had nothing to fall back on. His faith was uncompromising - until it became impossible. And then it was nothing.

But is that the fault of the impact of new ideas, or is it the fault of the faith? Can it really be true that mere exposure to the idea of atheism, or science, or whatever the DI wants to blame, is to be held responsible for that poor young man’s death? I don’t think so. I think the true cause is the rigidity and fragility of the faith Jesse Kilgore was born into. An informed, educated, intellectually adequate Christianity would have countered Dawkins, and accommodated the material evidence of the real world. Jesse Kilgore’s biblical fundamentalism could not do that; but that is an indictment against it, not against the person who introduced him to new ideas.

Introducing people to new ideas is what college professors do; it’s what college is for. That his faith was shattered by that is proof of its fragility. That he could find no new meaning in it is proof of its inadequacy. I hope he found the peace that it denied him.

As for the DI, it is blind to all decency. It battened upon this poor young man’s agony, wrapping a pitch for donations in unctuous condolence. Be damned to them.

Jedidiah Palosaari said:

At some point, I’m not sure how, I got on the DI’s mailing list. Worse yet, it’s on their financial mailing list, asking me to contribute.

I got the same thing and brought it up in a recent thread about dishonesty in science (see “…More Dishonest Than The DI” or some such – too lazy to find the link).

Which had more of a chance to influence Jesse’s psyche, one book by Dawkins or 22 years of christian upbringing?

Shoot- I forgot to mention in my responses, the other obvious point- we don’t believe that evolution is an unguided process. No one believes that. Whether you’re a theistic evolutionist or not, you believe it’s guided- by natural selection.

Jedidiah Palosaari said:

But let us assume that the story is all true. Obviously, the DI is hoping to correlate in our minds the religious/philosophical beliefs of Dawkins, with evolution. They want us to see that everyone who believes in evolution is a “godless heathen”. This is supported by their use of the word “Darwinist”, their feeble attempt to make acceptance of evolution into a religion. As we all know here, Dawkins beliefs on religion and evolution are one way of supporting evolution, but definitely not the only way.

I really want to see the day that one of the DI calls the last three Popes “godless heathens” because they accept(ed) evolution as a natural process that occurred and still is occurring.

One detail that seems to often be omitted by the faithful who repeat this story is that Jesse Kilgore was also a returning Iraq War veteran–a group with an unfortunately high rate of suicide. The only person who knows why Jesse Kilgore really killed himself is Jesse Kilgore. His father is distraught and looking for answers. He found a Dawkins book about atheism under his kid’s mattress, and it has become a focal point for all of his misplaced confusion, grief, and anger. His reaction is understandable, if severely misguided. I suspect the DI fully understands this, but are more than happy to use this man’s grief for their gain, because they just really are that low.

By the way, why doesn’t Behe speak himself? Isn’t it what he would do if he really was a scientist? Would he need a lawyer to speak in his place?

Jedidiah Palosaari Wrote:

Whether you’re a theistic evolutionist or not, you believe it’s guided- by natural selection.

Admitting my bias as a chemist I think it’s also guided by genetic changes that are anything but random in the ideal gas sense. But as you know, part of the ID scam is to deliberately confuse different meanings of words such as “random,” “guided,” etc. Their “research” is all in the field of rhetoric:

Ian Musgrave Wrote:

Now, if a modern vertebrate with a high pressure blood system can survive without fibrinogen, a primitive egg-laying vertebrate would do quite well, don’t you think? The Amphioxus does, one wonders what a fibrinogen knockout lamprey would do? Now there is a research project for ID advocates. Any takers?

That was my first thought when I read Russell Doolittle’s review of “Darwin’s Black Box” ~11 years ago. Doolittle admitted that modern knockout mice would likely be “challenged in the wild” because they are not genetically identical to the long lost common ancestor. But sadly I already expected that the DI’s reaction would be to just take Doolittle out of context, and not do their own research to support some better explanation.

What is disappointing me even more than that, however, is how almost no one seems to ask DI people such basic questions as when those supposedly IC systems first originated, and whether they originated in-vivo (via saltation?) or “in-vitro” (origin of a new organism from nonliving matter and/or vacuum). Behe would reluctantly answer with the time frames accepted by science (e.g. 100s of millions of years ago) and agree that “in-vivo” was the simplest alternative explanation. But the more politically correct DI folk go out of their way to evade those questions for the sake of the big tent.

They avoid testing ideas that scream for testing. They evade simple questions. They bait-and-switch definitions and concepts (e.g. evolution vs. abiogenesis), and they quote mine like there’s no tomorrow. Oh, and given that most students receive only a few hours of evolution lessons, the ID activists already have all the “equal time” they want for ~99.9% of a student’s waking hours (100% if he’s not in public school). Plus a sensationalist media that helps them even when it tries not to.

Yet that’s not enough for them.

Steve Fonken said:

Jedidiah Palosaari said:

This doesn’t have to do specifically with this article, but I have to vent, and I’ve got nowhere else more appropriate than Panda’s Thumb.

I hate to say it, but who programmed poor Jesse from childhood with a false world-view making him susceptible to the cognitive dissonance that Dawkin’s intellectual illumination would engender? It cuts both ways.

What is worse is who is running a bogus bait and switch scam on their own creationist supporters. Just think what the Discovery Institute is doing to all the Jesses out there that bought into the teach ID scam and then had the bait and switch run on them. Just think how miserable and dejected they must feel when they find out that the switch scam doesn’t even mention that ID ever existed. Just think how violated they feel when they realize how they were lied to? The Discovery Institute preys on people like Jesse. They don’t help them they only con them. If this isn’t true why can’t anyone try to get their local school board or legislators to institiute teaching the science of intelligent design without the Discovery Institute ID perps running in the switch scam?

There are obviously creationist rubes more resilient than the Jesse types. Luskin is likely one. Just before the bait and switch was run on the Ohio State Board Luskin participated in the Colloquy discussion on teaching intelligent design. I seem to recall that the Colloquy discussion was timely and partially in response to the Ohio State Boards ID activities. Luskin gave no indication that he knew that the bait and switch was going down. Maybe he knew, but couldn’t spoil the surprise. Not a single ID rube that had bought into the teach ID scam and tried to defend it during that discussion seemed to know that the bait and switch was planned. Now Luskin is working for the guys that he knows lied to rubes like himself about the teach ID creationist scam. So some people can profit from the experience.

http://chronicle.com/colloquy/2001/[…]n/design.htm

Having the Discovery Institute lament about what others do to the innocent, clueless, or incompetent is pretty sad.

Christophe Thill said:

By the way, why doesn’t Behe speak himself? Isn’t it what he would do if he really was a scientist? Would he need a lawyer to speak in his place?

I think this one’s pretty easy to answer.

When you’re doing science, you make your points in the peer-reviewed literature and in presentations at conferences (usually followed by papers).

When you’re doing legal stuff, you have your lawyer make your case.

Ron Okimoto Wrote:

Now Luskin is working for the guys that he knows lied to rubes like himself about the teach ID creationist scam.

Luskin may have been a rube in the past, but he’s certainly a “perp” now. Somewhere in these threads I read something that suggests that Luskin denies common descent, or at least did in the past. Surely he knows that Behe does not deny common descent. Even if he is still clueless of how science works, he has memorized enough scientific jargon to know darn well that if he still rejects common descent, or is undecided like Dembski, all he needs to do is challenge Behe, and that would add immensely to ID’s scientific credibility. Granted, clueless and hopelessly compartmentalized creationist rubes won’t care in the least, and the DI’s scientific credibility among scientists would still be zero, but there is a large audience between the two extremes that might take notice. Which means that they might also notice if IDers deliberately avoid challenging each other, just as they deliberately avoid developing their own theory in favor of recycling long-refuted arguments against “Darwinism.” It doesn’t take a science degree to be suspicious of someone who claims to have a better scientific theory but refuses to do what scientists do.

Unfortunately almost no one will notice squat if we keep lumping perps and rubes, YECs, OECs and “don’t ask, don’t tell” IDers under a vague “creationist” label. Let the IDers prop up the big tent; our job is to tear it down.

Reading the story about poor Jesse the suicidal college student made me think of an episode in my own life. Before I became an historian of science I made my living as a scientific illustrator (I did the illustrations for Fastovsky and Weishampel’s dinosaur textbook. Illustrations that no one apprently liked). In the Sping of, I think, 1990, I was doing a showing of my artwork at a local county gallery and the newspaper sent a photographer to my house for an interview on my work. The photographer became fixated on my paintings of dinosaurs and cavemen to the point of agitation. Finally he couldn’t take it any more and blurted out “How do you reconcile all this with the Bible!” At first taken aback, I calmly explained how I felt, how evolution worked etc. By the time he left he was shaking my hand all smiles and thanking me for clearing up so many questions he had. I hope he didn’t do what Jesse did, becasue I think I undermined his faith with just a minute or two of earnest conversation.

We can’t know what Jesse Kilgore went through. Who can know what path led to those October woods?

We’ll never know exactly what Jesse was thinking, he was probably a very confused young man. But sadly, part of what he was thinking was probably something along the lines of “I trusted my spiritual advisors so much. And yet I can see with my own eyes that they lied to me.”

I’m sure disillusionment played a big part in Jesses actions, but don’t discount perceived betrayal, and the subsequent revelation that those he had followed all these years might have simply been manipulating him.

And, of course, this may have been the first time Jesse really tried to think out these issues for himself. Having little prior experience with questioning authority, once cut free of his moorings he may have felt himself overwhelmed by the “who am I?” issues that all of us faced as teens, but without a couple of years to work it out in stages.

Shame on the DI for prostituting this tragedy for their own gain.

Ron Okimoto Wrote:

What is worse is who is running a bogus bait and switch scam on their own creationist supporters.

BTW, many thanks for constantly reminding everyone that ID activists are not just making life difficult for scientists, but for their creationist followers too. Technical rebuttals of ID’s misrepresentations are necessary of course, but they have the unfortunate side effect of being (1) mostly on IDers’ terms (“what evolution supposedly can or cannot do” vice “what happened when and how” per ID “theory”), and (2) misinterpreted by many casual readers as “science ganging up on ‘creationists’.”

Contrary to common myth, most critics of ID/creationism genuinely want to help the abused rank and file. If those creationists insist on taking literally a scripture that their own religious leaders might not take literally, no one is stopping them. If they want to learn all the anti-evolution canards and preach them to others, and innocently or deliberately censor the rebuttals, on their own time, that’s their right. Yet that’s still not enough for the anti-evolution activists. They want full control of the few hours of science education that (1) mainstream science earned and ID/creationism didn’t, (2) is paid for by taxpayers, and (3) guaranteed by the Constitution to protect religious freedom, including that of creationists. And they don’t care in the least that their activism often leaves those creationists with big legal bills. That ought to outrage most people, whether or not they know or care much about evolution.

KP said:

Jedidiah Palosaari said:

At some point, I’m not sure how, I got on the DI’s mailing list. Worse yet, it’s on their financial mailing list, asking me to contribute.

I got the same thing and brought it up in a recent thread about dishonesty in science (see “…More Dishonest Than The DI” or some such – too lazy to find the link).

Which had more of a chance to influence Jesse’s psyche, one book by Dawkins or 22 years of christian upbringing?

On the other hand, the peer review process alone can be disillusioning enough to give one an existential crisis… So maybe there is something evil and destructive about science… (kidding, of course)

KP said: On the other hand, the peer review process alone can be disillusioning enough to give one an existential crisis… So maybe there is something evil and destructive about science… (kidding, of course)

Oh, the soul crushing starts long before peer review. You’ve got your qualifying exams, thesis writing, thesis defense, not to mention innumerable proposal rejections. And that’s all before article peer review can even happen. Its a wonder any of us survive. :)

This is not to make light of Mr. Kilgore’s choice/fate, only our own…

eric said:

You’ve got your qualifying exams, thesis writing, thesis defense,

These were a breeze compared to publishing stuff. I’ve been trying to publish dissertation related material for 7 years since graduating and have only managed to get 2 papers into 2nd tier journals. Can you tell I just got another rejection today?? :)

This is not to make light of Mr. Kilgore’s choice/fate, only our own…

Fer sherr…

Ron, you bring up something else to mind. The DI is incessantly calling for “equal time”. They want both sides taught- both evolution, and ID- they say. Yet here, they are attributing suicide to reading a philosophical perspective that they tie to evolution. Their implication is that you will die if you read these thoughts. It would appear to give lie to their claim to equal time as well. Unless they are actually advocating that everyone have the opportunity to be taught both perspectives, yet one perspective will surely kill you???

Jedidiah Palosaari Wrote:

Ron, you bring up something else to mind. The DI is incessantly calling for “equal time”. They want both sides taught- both evolution, and ID- they say. Yet here, they are attributing suicide to reading a philosophical perspective that they tie to evolution.

It’s even worse than that. The latest scam is to not teach ID at all, but only evolution - along with the misrepresentations disguised as “critical analysis” of course. It’s certainly possible, even with the phony “critical analysis” encouraging unreasonable doubt, that some vulnerable fundamentalist students will react negatively, because their comfortable fairy tales are will be taught neither directly (via YEC or OEC) or indirectly (via ID).

Jedidiah Palosaari said:

Ron, you bring up something else to mind. The DI is incessantly calling for “equal time”. They want both sides taught- both evolution, and ID- they say. Yet here, they are attributing suicide to reading a philosophical perspective that they tie to evolution. Their implication is that you will die if you read these thoughts. It would appear to give lie to their claim to equal time as well. Unless they are actually advocating that everyone have the opportunity to be taught both perspectives, yet one perspective will surely kill you???

As Frank comments on above the switch scam isn’t supposed to teach ID or creationism at all. The ID perps rely on the incompetence or dishonesty of others to do that for them. Besides, I don’t think that any rational competent person listens to the ID perps. The only supporters that they have left are the ignorant, incompetent, and or dishonest. Competent rational arguments are not what the current supporters of the ID perps are looking for. If they were looking for that kind of thing they would be looking some place else.

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This page contains a single entry by Ian Musgrave published on January 5, 2009 7:40 AM.

God of the Gaps…in your own knowledge. Luskin, Behe, & blood-clotting was the previous entry in this blog.

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