Creationists saturation-bombing Amazon?

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A pen-pal of mine sent me the following message regarding Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell:

The Dishonesty Institute is mounting a campaign in support of Meyer’s book over at Amazon.com. In the past day there have literally been scores of new positive 5 star reviews posted by those who have seen the Dishonesty Institute’s e-mail appeal. Please vote Nay on each of these reviews and Yea on the negative ones, especially mine and Donald Prothero’s, since ours are the most comprehensive negative one star reviews posted at Amazon.com.

My informant had previously received the following letter:

Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell is gaining momentum, and now the Darwinists [sic] are fighting back. After Dr. Meyer and Dr. Sternberg trounced Darwinists [sic] Michael Shermer and Donald Prothero in last week’s debate, desperate Darwinists [sic] are lashing out at Dr. Meyer, trashing his book at Amazon.com. They can’t afford for more people to be exposed to the arguments that Meyer is making, so they have resorted to trying to ruin the book’s reputation. If you have read Signature in the Cell, we need your help! Please write a review at Amazon.com (they need not be long, just honest). This is a book that has earned its place in the top 10 list of bestselling science books at Amazon, the book that made the Times Literary Supplement’s Top Books of 2009, and an author who was named “Daniel of the Year” for his work. Please take a moment and defend Dr. Meyer and his groundbreaking book.

so it is not an unreasonable inference that the reviews are part of a campaign. In the days before December 8, most if not many of the reviews of the book were negative. In the last few days, however, scores of presumed readers have submitted dozens of reviews, the vast majority of them 5-star.

I do not want to get into a spitting match with a bunch of creationists, and it is probably obvious that the current reviews are part of a campaign. Nevertheless, if you have read the book and want to write a (presumably negative) review or comment on the existing reviews, I would not try to stop you.

266 Comments

I initially felt compelled to read the reviews before I voted “not helpful.” Besides the absolute syrup-covered tripe, I eventually noticed that a great many of the positive reviews are repeated. Jeebus approves.

“Daniel of the Year”? Do I want to know?

No. No, I really didn’t.

Most of the positive reviews of Meyer’s books are short diatribes against the “evil Darwinists”. There is a feature at Amazon where you, as a voter, can express your opinion that the content is not appropriate for this website. On the other hand, please vote in favor of my review (“Sterling example of mendacious intellectual pornography from Stephen Meyer”) and Don Prothero’s, since ours are the two most comperhensive rebuttals to Meyer’s mendacious intellectual pornography; mine discusses how Meyer has created the “straw man” distinction between historical and experimental sciences, in which I noted that in a “historical” science like evolutionary biology, there have been important experiments on measuring the rapid pace in which Natural Selection acts on populations in the lab (Richard Lenski’s E. coli experiment that is still ongoing) and in the field (John Endler’s classic experiment on Trinidad guppies that is recounted in Richard Dawkins’s latest book.) and challenges his contention that ID can offer plausible, testable, scientific hypotheses; Prothero’s is a terse, but still exhaustive, condemnation of Meyer’s breathtakingly inane claim that the “Cambrian Explosion” was a real event and is supportive of Intelligent Design, by reminding us of the extensive fossil record that shows it was more a “Cambrian Slow Fuse” (I will concede that I shall plead the Fifth as to whether I am the anonymous “pen-pal” which Matt Young refers to at the start of this blogy entry.).

More Lying for Jesus.

It’s good to see that Kwok has apparently read the book before reviewing it this time.

The thing that I can’t abide is an attack on the Amazon rating system like this. What, the book can’t stand on its own? They’re afraid of negative reviews?

sad, so very sad…

Blake Stacey said: “Daniel of the Year”? Do I want to know? No. No, I really didn’t.

I complained about that at http://www.uncommondescent.com/inte[…]of-the-year/ and they allowed my complaints to see the light of day. (I was surprised.)

The IDiots carpet-bombed Amazon two years ago giving rave reviews of Dembski’s and Wells’ Design of Life - see http://pandasthumb.org/archives/200[…]-and-we.html

Review bombing won’t make any difference. Obviously “Signature” isn’t selling. Only the faithful will buy it, anyway, both literally and literally.

At 600 pages, that’s 599 and nine-tenths more than any creationist is going to read.

Let ‘em bomb. Good luck with that.

I did see that Bob the Crow sobered up enough to make a less than coherent comment to a review. Talk about buried, Bob. You’re reduced to making comments to negative reviews on an insignificant book on the Amazon dot Com website? Seriously?

Meanwhile, I bought Prothero’s book while I was on Amazon and it’s a great read. I especially like the passage where he calls Jon Wells the “Hindenberg of Creationism.” Yep, that was rich.

The DI’s Nota Bene mailing list:

If you have read Signature in the Cell, we need your help! Please write a review at Amazon.com (they need not be long, just honest). This is a book that has earned its place in the top 10 list of bestselling science books at Amazon, the book that made the Times Literary Supplement’s Top Books of 2009, and an author who was named “Daniel of the Year” for his work. Please take a moment and defend Dr. Meyer and his groundbreaking book.

Sincerely, Anika M. Smith

Incidentally, they’re lying about its “top 10 list of bestselling science books at Amazon” – it’s current rating in the ‘Science’ section is #57 (it’s classified as “Books > Science > Physics > Cosmology” of all things).

Was this really “one of the Times Literary Supplement’s Top Books of 2009,” or is that another distortion by the PR machine? Would be disappointing if true.

Matt:

This is an old story by now. Objectivists and Scientologists bulk-bought so many books that Random House and then other publishers had to start excluding bulk buys from bestseller lists. Amazon has been a complete game almost from day one of there being reviews there.

I don’t review books I didn’t read, but I’ve mentally ceded Amazon as a battleground to the authoritarians years ago. Web polls and Amazon stars should be some sort of metaphor for worthlessness.

Was this really “one of the Times Literary Supplement’s Top Books of 2009,”…

It is in fact in Times Literary Supplement’s Books of the Year 2009. It turns out that by “top 10 list of bestselling science books at Amazon”, they meant this Best Books of 2009: Science Top 10 list.

Steve Meyer… He’s the tool who tried to imply that supernatural explanations were a valuable part of science on NOVA’s episode on the Kitzmiller Vs Dover trial, after not bothering to show up for the trial, right?

Hrafn said:

Was this really “one of the Times Literary Supplement’s Top Books of 2009,”…

It is in fact in Times Literary Supplement’s Books of the Year 2009. It turns out that by “top 10 list of bestselling science books at Amazon”, they meant this Best Books of 2009: Science Top 10 list.

How in the world did Signature outperform Only a Theory?

How in the world did Signature outperform Only a Theory?

Biased and/or scientifically illiterate judges, most probably. Amazon lacks any editorial reputation whatsoever, and one would assume that the TLS editorial reputation is on matters of literary merit not scientific merit (maybe Siggy was beautifully written pseudoscientific garbage ;) ).

I have read “Signiture in the Cell” It isn’t very good. I hadn’t planned to review it. There are other better things to do, like pooking needles in your eyes.

Well, OK.

I have written a small number of reviews of creationist crap books posted on the Amazon site. Your positive votes on “Was this review helpful?” in fact help keep reviews on a book’s front page. This is another creationist ploy- they organize their pals to vote against critical reviews of creationist books, sending them to the abyss. For example, my review of Walter Brown’s creatocrap.

alex from memory that’s steve fuller - an american who lives and teaches in england.

And he’s living proof that if you know absolutely nothing about science whatsoever, you make a lousy sociologist of science, philosopher of science, historian of science or what have you.

Strictly speaking, it was mentioned favorably by one of their reviewers, the philosopher Thomas Nagel.

There are some comments on Thomas Nagel’s opinions here:

http://leiterreports.typepad.com/bl[…]onreply.html

(Hat tip to John Wilkin’s blog evolvingthoughts.net )

Alex H Wrote:

How in the world did Signature outperform Only a Theory?

I believe that the answer is in an unexpected place. Think of this: Why is there so much advertising? And why are there so many lousy products and services out there? Companies waste precious resources on advertising because, unfortunately, it works. What that means is that most people buy things because of good sales pitches, not because of evaluating the product or service on its own merit. And it’s getting worse.

ID/creationism is one long (~50 years, if you start with modern “scientific” creationism) sales pitch. The books and articles (& movies like “Expelled”) are promoted like crazy, and are themselves “commercials.” Like the sleaziest TV commercials they tell people what they want to hear and omit everything that’s inconvenient. In stark contrast “Only a Theory” is brutally honest. It tells it like it is, not how people want it to be. And it’s probably not nearly advertised as much as DI books.

That was in response to my negative review of Dembski and Wells’s mendacious intelllectual pornography, which was the first negative one star review after positive five star reviews written by Dishonesty Institute colleagues and sympathizers. But this time the Dishonesty Institute has gone beyond the pale by asking people to write favorable reviews:

Paul Burnett said:

The IDiots carpet-bombed Amazon two years ago giving rave reviews of Dembski’s and Wells’ Design of Life - see http://pandasthumb.org/archives/200[…]-and-we.html

Gary,

There is an option in the review voting that, even before casting a “ballot”, one can opt to let Amazon.com know that you think the content of the review in question is offensive. If most of us did just that for the many countless “Darwin diatribes” posing as favorable five star reviews of Meyer’s book, then Amazon might be forced to reduce the number of these reviews:

Gary Hurd said:

I have read “Signiture in the Cell” It isn’t very good. I hadn’t planned to review it. There are other better things to do, like pooking needles in your eyes.

Well, OK.

I have written a small number of reviews of creationist crap books posted on the Amazon site. Your positive votes on “Was this review helpful?” in fact help keep reviews on a book’s front page. This is another creationist ploy- they organize their pals to vote against critical reviews of creationist books, sending them to the abyss. For example, my review of Walter Brown’s creatocrap.

You missed the beginning of Matt Young’s entry, since he quoted from that e-mail message (And yes, I suppose that I can admit now that I am the pen pal correspondent that he refers to.):

Hrafn said:

The DI’s Nota Bene mailing list:

If you have read Signature in the Cell, we need your help! Please write a review at Amazon.com (they need not be long, just honest). This is a book that has earned its place in the top 10 list of bestselling science books at Amazon, the book that made the Times Literary Supplement’s Top Books of 2009, and an author who was named “Daniel of the Year” for his work. Please take a moment and defend Dr. Meyer and his groundbreaking book.

Sincerely, Anika M. Smith

Incidentally, they’re lying about its “top 10 list of bestselling science books at Amazon” – it’s current rating in the ‘Science’ section is #57 (it’s classified as “Books > Science > Physics > Cosmology” of all things).

As I noted recently in a blog thread pertaining to Don Prothero’s recent debate with Michael Shermer against both Meyer and Sternberg, Amazon.com seems to go out of its way to support every wacko nutjob provided that the wacko nutjob in question is an author whose books are available for sale there. They, in particular, have a rather unhealthy strong affinity for the Dishonesty Institute’s stable of authors and other Xian weirdoes like Ken Ham and David Marshall. If enough people complained to customer service at Amazon.com, then maybe they might listen:

Marion Delgado said:

Matt:

This is an old story by now. Objectivists and Scientologists bulk-bought so many books that Random House and then other publishers had to start excluding bulk buys from bestseller lists. Amazon has been a complete game almost from day one of there being reviews there.

I don’t review books I didn’t read, but I’ve mentally ceded Amazon as a battleground to the authoritarians years ago. Web polls and Amazon stars should be some sort of metaphor for worthlessness.

Quite simple. The Dishonesty Institute agitprop machine consisting of the likes of Casey Luskin, fellow Brunonian - and Darwin Equals Hitler agitator - David Klinghoffer, radio talk show host Michael Medved, Paul Nelson, Bill Dembski, etc. etc. have been promoting the book every which way they can. All Ken Miller had at his disposal was his publisher and Brown University’s press office, and sadly, neither proved to be as effective as the Dishonesty Institute’s:

Alex H said:

Hrafn said:

Was this really “one of the Times Literary Supplement’s Top Books of 2009,”…

It is in fact in Times Literary Supplement’s Books of the Year 2009. It turns out that by “top 10 list of bestselling science books at Amazon”, they meant this Best Books of 2009: Science Top 10 list.

How in the world did Signature outperform Only a Theory?

I am grateful to all for heeding my message and my special thanks to Matt Young for passing on the word, since the most popular “Most Helpful” reviews at Amazon.com now are negative one star reviews written by those who heard about Amazon being “dive bombed” by Dishonesty Institute IDiot Borg Collective drones. I encourage everyone to post their own negative one star reviews.… and with my apologies to RBH (who thinks I have a tendency to promote myself), could you please vote on behalf of my review at Amazon, which is entitled “Sterling example of mendacious intellectual pornography from Stephen Meyer”.

Appreciatively yours,

John Kwok

A Christian biochemistry professor has posted a review of Signature in the Cell here. He wasn’t too impressed! I encouraged him to post it at Amazon.

PZ Myers, Jason Rosenhouse and several others have linked to his “open letter” to Stephen Meyer at their blogs. I hope that biochemist heeds your advice, since many of the delusional Dishonesty Institute IDiot Borg drones posting favorably over at Amazon are insisting that the usual suspects, like godless Darwinist Atheists such as Richard Dawakins, are trying to tell Meyer to “shut up”:

Karen S. said:

A Christian biochemistry professor has posted a review of Signature in the Cell here. He wasn’t too impressed! I encouraged him to post it at Amazon.

Of course I agree, DS. But you’ve missed my point that I believe we still don’t know as much yet regarding how mutations may have been responsible for new (or reused) biochemical pathways for aptations in most of the known millions and millions metazoans and metaphytes. Eventually we will know, but I will not concede any ground to any creationist who would make an “argument from ignorance” or “God of the Gaps” argument with regards to evidence for “Intelligent Design” or the existence of a Creator:

DS said:

John wrote:

“I agree with you that we have, at a gross level, a very good understanding about mutations and how they can effect biochemical and other genomic changes that are manifested in the creation of new physiological or morphological traits or allow pre-existing ones to have another kind(s) of function(s)…”

For the very last time, the effect of mutations is not the issue here. The issue is the mechanism by which mutations are produced. I am telling you, in on uncertain terms, that we have a very good understanding of how mutations ARISE, as well as their effects. Do you agree or not?

I don’t think so, but I will plead ignorance here, and certainly I would never advocate looking at stress-induced mutagenesis from a Neo-Lamarckian perspective:

SWT said:

John Kwok,

Are you referring to stress-induced mutagenesis?

John wrote:

“Of course I agree, DS. But you’ve missed my point that I believe we still don’t know as much yet regarding how mutations may have been responsible for new (or reused) biochemical pathways for aptations in most of the known millions and millions metazoans and metaphytes. Eventually we will know, but I will not concede any ground to any creationist who would make an “argument from ignorance” or “God of the Gaps” argument with regards to evidence for “Intelligent Design” or the existence of a Creator:”

Absolutely. We don’t know many of the mutations, or even the pathways, responsible for many adaptations. We do however know many of the mechanisms by which mutations arise. That was my only point. Just because we don’t know everything, doesn’t mean that we know nothing.

“I don’t think so, but I will plead ignorance here, and certainly I would never advocate looking at stress-induced mutagenesis from a Neo-Lamarckian perspective:”

As I stated earlier, stress induced mutagenesis is no help for the argument that the environment specifically induces beneficial mutations. Once again, it increases the overall mutation rate, and thus the ABSOLUTE rate of beneficial mutations, but it does not affect the RELATIVE rate of beneficial mutations. It can’t, it didn’t, it won’t.

Under no circumstances would I even think of stress-induced metagenesis as being responsible from an environmental perspective in causing mutations. But you can not deny that there are both environmental and phylogenetic constraints that would prevent any mutation or set of mutations to transform a population rapidly from an ordinary looking duck into a crocoduck. I admit I may have overstated my case with regards to environmental importance, but I hope I did emphasize equally both the relevance of the environment and a population’s phylogeny (in other words, geneaology) with regards to mutations. And even here, I am well aware that aptations caused by biochemical pathways created by mutations can be a mixed blessing (The notable example I can think of is the sickle cell trait that emerged in Africans. Within the tropical environment of Africa that was an advantageous trait, but not here in North America.):

DS said:

John wrote:

“Of course I agree, DS. But you’ve missed my point that I believe we still don’t know as much yet regarding how mutations may have been responsible for new (or reused) biochemical pathways for aptations in most of the known millions and millions metazoans and metaphytes. Eventually we will know, but I will not concede any ground to any creationist who would make an “argument from ignorance” or “God of the Gaps” argument with regards to evidence for “Intelligent Design” or the existence of a Creator:”

Absolutely. We don’t know many of the mutations, or even the pathways, responsible for many adaptations. We do however know many of the mechanisms by which mutations arise. That was my only point. Just because we don’t know everything, doesn’t mean that we know nothing.

“I don’t think so, but I will plead ignorance here, and certainly I would never advocate looking at stress-induced mutagenesis from a Neo-Lamarckian perspective:”

As I stated earlier, stress induced mutagenesis is no help for the argument that the environment specifically induces beneficial mutations. Once again, it increases the overall mutation rate, and thus the ABSOLUTE rate of beneficial mutations, but it does not affect the RELATIVE rate of beneficial mutations. It can’t, it didn’t, it won’t.

Just reposting this as a reminder for anyone who hasn’t visited this thread before:

With ample thanks to OgreMkV, here are the revised guidelines regarding how one should write to Amazon.com’s Customer relations:

Please contact Amazon.com Customer Relations, and write a polite, but strongly worded, letter that indicates these very points regarding Stephen Meyer’s abysmal “Signature in the Cell”:

1) I object to Amazon.com’s recognition of “Signature in the Cell” as one of the best science books of this year.

2) Intelligent Design isn’t science since it has not been formally proposed, tested, or published in any reputable scientific publications. Furthermore it has been shown in every court case that intelligent design or creationism has been involved in that neither is science. When the ‘scientists’ who publish these books start publishing in peer reviewed journals, then you can make these science books.

3) Stephen Meyer lacks the professional credentials or experience necessary for him to write a science book.

4) His publisher, HarperCollins, opted to publish the book under its HarperOne imprint, which it reserves solely for its religious - NOT SCIENCE - books.

5) The Discovery Institute has begun a campaign on behalf of Meyer’s latest book in an effort to improve unfairly the book’s ratings with Amazon.

6) Moreover, several Discovery Institute staff, most notably Senior Fellows David Klinghoffer and William Dembski, have written 5 Star reviews. Their reviews should be considered solely as Discovery Institute propaganda and should be removed by Amazon.

7) I strongly encourage you to revoke the science book status of “Signature in the Cell”. If you choose not to, then I would ask the person who makes this decision to point out one testable hypothesis made by Meyer in this book and the results of the test Meyer did to show his hypothesis as valid.

John, you continue to be confused.

Under no circumstances would I even think of stress-induced metagenesis as being responsible from an environmental perspective in causing mutations.

But stress-induced metagenesis does cause mutations. That’s the point.

But you can not deny that there are both environmental and phylogenetic constraints that would prevent any mutation or set of mutations to transform a population rapidly from an ordinary looking duck into a crocoduck.

That’s hopelessly vague, sloppy terminology. What does rapid mean in this context, for example? The entire point of PE is rapid change.

You appear to be genuinely confused about what you’re saying; perhaps you take a break from this narcissistic thread you’re running here and think seriously about your understanding of genetics. Indeed, perhaps you need to learn something about genetics before you continue to write reviews of books that make reference to them.

Constant Mews said:

You [John Kwok] appear to be genuinely confused about what you’re saying;

I don’t know if John is confused, but I know that I’m genuinely confused about what he’s saying.

Constant Mews,

Again, I am not a molecular biologist nor geneticist nor was I ever trained as such. But I was trained as a paleobiologist, recognizing that mutations can’t create - even if we could find a suitable biochemical pathway at the most reductionist level - a “hopeful monster” of the kind suggested by a “crocoduck”. Nor can we expect that mutations might produce the same biochemical pathway that would lead to, for example, the development of wings in organisms as dissimilar as insects, pterosaurs, birds and bats. Instead, mutations created different pathways that led eventually to different biochemical and anatomical solutions to the problem of achieving self-propelled powered flight.

I agree with DS that mutations occur all the time. But it is only those which are beneficial to a given population that will eventually be passed on to their descendants (And by beneficial I am referring to those that will ensure the reproductive success of the population in question), which is what we would expect under Natural Selection.

If you’re confused, I think it’s because you’ve ignored or discounted substantially the significance of a population’s prior genealogical history (or to be more precise, its phylogenetic history). And may I suggest that is the same error which Meyer makes repeatedly in his conception of Intelligent Design as a “testable” scientific theory capable of producing hypotheses.

Constant mews wrote:

“But stress-induced metagenesis does cause mutations. That’s the point.”

Indeed that is the very point I was trying to make. It is a point that John still doesn’t seem to grasp. In any event, I don’t know if we are really disagreeing here as much as talking at cross purposes. I keep trying to talk about the mechanisms by which mutations are produced, John keeps trying to talk about the fate of mutations. These are two separate issues, perhaps that is where the confusion comes in.

John wrote:

“I agree with DS that mutations occur all the time. But it is only those which are beneficial to a given population that will eventually be passed on to their descendants (And by beneficial I am referring to those that will ensure the reproductive success of the population in question), which is what we would expect under Natural Selection.”

Once again, I hate to disagree, but this is just not correct. All types of mutations are passed on to descendants, deleterious, neutral and beneficial, with the majority probably being neutral. Drift is primarily responsible for the fate of most mutations, even beneficial ones, initially. DIfferential transmission due to selection can act and often does, but that is not usually the most important mechanism controlling the fate of most mutations, at least initially. Also, no mutation can ensure reproductive success of an individual or a population. No matter what your genotype, you can still die without reproducing. Fitness is a relative concept, at least in practical terms. I don’t know why John keeps reminding us that he is not an expert and then keeps making inaccurate statements. Perhaps I am just being too picky.

Of course john is absolutely right about the importance of phylogenetic history in determining the types of mutations that will most likely occur. On that we can agree.

DS,

Thanks for the correction. I should have said that aptations occur via the biochemical pathways established (or altered) by beneficial mutations. I do realize that harmful (and neutral) mutations are passed on in populations, which is why I mentioned the example of the sickle cell trait in sub-Saharan black Africans.

As stress-induced metagenesis, I said that I was certain that it didn’t occur from a Neo-Lamarckian perspective (I was willing to admit my ignorance there since I’m not familiar with it, but, however, on second thought, I realize that this could explain both the creation of “new” E. coli bacerium species in Lenski’s lab that were “forced” to survive on an entirely new diet as well as the rapid divergence of the London Underground subway mosquito population from its above ground ancestors.):

DS said:

Constant mews wrote:

“But stress-induced metagenesis does cause mutations. That’s the point.”

Indeed that is the very point I was trying to make. It is a point that John still doesn’t seem to grasp. In any event, I don’t know if we are really disagreeing here as much as talking at cross purposes. I keep trying to talk about the mechanisms by which mutations are produced, John keeps trying to talk about the fate of mutations. These are two separate issues, perhaps that is where the confusion comes in.

John wrote:

“I agree with DS that mutations occur all the time. But it is only those which are beneficial to a given population that will eventually be passed on to their descendants (And by beneficial I am referring to those that will ensure the reproductive success of the population in question), which is what we would expect under Natural Selection.”

Once again, I hate to disagree, but this is just not correct. All types of mutations are passed on to descendants, deleterious, neutral and beneficial, with the majority probably being neutral. Drift is primarily responsible for the fate of most mutations, even beneficial ones, initially. DIfferential transmission due to selection can act and often does, but that is not usually the most important mechanism controlling the fate of most mutations, at least initially. Also, no mutation can ensure reproductive success of an individual or a population. No matter what your genotype, you can still die without reproducing. Fitness is a relative concept, at least in practical terms. I don’t know why John keeps reminding us that he is not an expert and then keeps making inaccurate statements. Perhaps I am just being too picky.

Of course john is absolutely right about the importance of phylogenetic history in determining the types of mutations that will most likely occur. On that we can agree.

P. S. DS, contrary to some rumors you may have heard, I usually try to confess to my mistakes and to admit my errors. That unfortunately are traits we have yet to see from such “eminent” Dishonesty Institute “scholars” like Michael Behe, Jonathan Wells, William Dembski or Stephen Meyer.

John wrote:

“DS, contrary to some rumors you may have heard, I usually try to confess to my mistakes and to admit my errors. That unfortunately are traits we have yet to see from such “eminent” Dishonesty Institute “scholars” like Michael Behe, Jonathan Wells, William Dembski or Stephen Meyer.”

Thank you sir. You are indeed a gentleman and a scholar. And I’m not just saying that because you agree with me.

The only thing has been confusing are the numerous errors concerning genetics and evolution that you have been making in thi thread; errors which you apparently still continue to harbor.

Your inability to clarify your points is proof that your thinking on these topics is confused. I suggest that you undertake some remedial education in genetics and evolution before you embarrass yourself in print.

Sorry John, but you’ve made some truly egregious errors on this thread. Why is that?

John Kwok said:

Constant Mews,

Again, I am not a molecular biologist nor geneticist nor was I ever trained as such. But I was trained as a paleobiologist, recognizing that mutations can’t create - even if we could find a suitable biochemical pathway at the most reductionist level - a “hopeful monster” of the kind suggested by a “crocoduck”. Nor can we expect that mutations might produce the same biochemical pathway that would lead to, for example, the development of wings in organisms as dissimilar as insects, pterosaurs, birds and bats. Instead, mutations created different pathways that led eventually to different biochemical and anatomical solutions to the problem of achieving self-propelled powered flight.

I agree with DS that mutations occur all the time. But it is only those which are beneficial to a given population that will eventually be passed on to their descendants (And by beneficial I am referring to those that will ensure the reproductive success of the population in question), which is what we would expect under Natural Selection.

If you’re confused, I think it’s because you’ve ignored or discounted substantially the significance of a population’s prior genealogical history (or to be more precise, its phylogenetic history). And may I suggest that is the same error which Meyer makes repeatedly in his conception of Intelligent Design as a “testable” scientific theory capable of producing hypotheses.

Constant Mews, I suggest you should read what I said to DS, AND WHAT HE SAID in reply to my latest reply to him:

Constant Mews said:

The only thing has been confusing are the numerous errors concerning genetics and evolution that you have been making in thi thread; errors which you apparently still continue to harbor.

Your inability to clarify your points is proof that your thinking on these topics is confused. I suggest that you undertake some remedial education in genetics and evolution before you embarrass yourself in print.

Sorry John, but you’ve made some truly egregious errors on this thread. Why is that?

John Kwok said:

Constant Mews,

Again, I am not a molecular biologist nor geneticist nor was I ever trained as such. But I was trained as a paleobiologist, recognizing that mutations can’t create - even if we could find a suitable biochemical pathway at the most reductionist level - a “hopeful monster” of the kind suggested by a “crocoduck”. Nor can we expect that mutations might produce the same biochemical pathway that would lead to, for example, the development of wings in organisms as dissimilar as insects, pterosaurs, birds and bats. Instead, mutations created different pathways that led eventually to different biochemical and anatomical solutions to the problem of achieving self-propelled powered flight.

I agree with DS that mutations occur all the time. But it is only those which are beneficial to a given population that will eventually be passed on to their descendants (And by beneficial I am referring to those that will ensure the reproductive success of the population in question), which is what we would expect under Natural Selection.

If you’re confused, I think it’s because you’ve ignored or discounted substantially the significance of a population’s prior genealogical history (or to be more precise, its phylogenetic history). And may I suggest that is the same error which Meyer makes repeatedly in his conception of Intelligent Design as a “testable” scientific theory capable of producing hypotheses.

John Kwok said:

Constant Mews, I suggest you should read what I said to DS, AND WHAT HE SAID in reply to my latest reply to him:

I have. What is your point? You’ve stated a number of errors in this thread. I see no indication that you even understand that you were in error. Touting this kind of foolishness is more the province of creationist and IDists.

John wrote:

“Constant Mews, I suggest you should read what I said to DS, AND WHAT HE SAID in reply to my latest reply to him:”

I wrote that you are a gentleman and a scholar. I did not write that you are a molecular biologist, geneticist or population geneticist.

When discussing science, it is important to be technically accurate. However, it is even more important to be willing to admit mistakes. No one is perfect, but someone who will not admit a mistake is twice wrong.

I appreciate your efforts to defend good science. That is certainly more important than any minor technical errors. Still, the fact remains that several of your statements were technically inaccurate. I have tried to set the record straight to the best of my ability. I hope that in so doing I have not given offense. That was not my intention.

No, DS you haven’t given me offense at all, and in fact, may have helped me substantially in enhancing my arguments in the future if I need to explain some aspects of genetics and molecular biology to others. It’s a pity Constant Mews doesn’t see that:

DS said:

John wrote:

“Constant Mews, I suggest you should read what I said to DS, AND WHAT HE SAID in reply to my latest reply to him:”

I wrote that you are a gentleman and a scholar. I did not write that you are a molecular biologist, geneticist or population geneticist.

When discussing science, it is important to be technically accurate. However, it is even more important to be willing to admit mistakes. No one is perfect, but someone who will not admit a mistake is twice wrong.

I appreciate your efforts to defend good science. That is certainly more important than any minor technical errors. Still, the fact remains that several of your statements were technically inaccurate. I have tried to set the record straight to the best of my ability. I hope that in so doing I have not given offense. That was not my intention.

I recommend you read what DS has said in his two most recent posts, most notably this:

“When discussing science, it is important to be technically accurate. However, it is even more important to be willing to admit mistakes. No one is perfect, but someone who will not admit a mistake is twice wrong.”

And you may have forgotten this:

“Of course john is absolutely right about the importance of phylogenetic history in determining the types of mutations that will most likely occur. On that we can agree.”

Too often in the past I have encountered graduate students and even professional biologists who have forgotten how and why their work has any relevance to understanding some aspect of the phylogenetic history of the organisms being studied. This is the same error which Meyer displays not just once but several times in his risible effort at pretending that Intelligent Design could be a viable scientific alternative to modern evolutionary theory.

And are you actually going to acknowledge your mistakes? That’s my point, and my curiousity is aroused.

You’ve been in error. You haven’t admitted it; indeed, I’m not even sure you’ve acknowledged that you’ve been corrected.

You appear likely to spread more inaccurate information in the future.

What about it, John?

John Kwok said:

I recommend you read what DS has said in his two most recent posts, most notably this:

“When discussing science, it is important to be technically accurate. However, it is even more important to be willing to admit mistakes. No one is perfect, but someone who will not admit a mistake is twice wrong.”

And you may have forgotten this:

“Of course john is absolutely right about the importance of phylogenetic history in determining the types of mutations that will most likely occur. On that we can agree.”

Too often in the past I have encountered graduate students and even professional biologists who have forgotten how and why their work has any relevance to understanding some aspect of the phylogenetic history of the organisms being studied. This is the same error which Meyer displays not just once but several times in his risible effort at pretending that Intelligent Design could be a viable scientific alternative to modern evolutionary theory.

John Kwok said:

I recommend you read what DS has said in his two most recent posts, most notably this:

“When discussing science, it is important to be technically accurate. However, it is even more important to be willing to admit mistakes. No one is perfect, but someone who will not admit a mistake is twice wrong.”

I was actually referring to this. What about it, John?

And you may have forgotten this:

“Of course john is absolutely right about the importance of phylogenetic history in determining the types of mutations that will most likely occur. On that we can agree.”

Irrelevant. The fact that you were correct on one point does not relieve you of responsibility to correct your errors.

Too often in the past I have encountered graduate students and even professional biologists who have forgotten how and why their work has any relevance to understanding some aspect of the phylogenetic history of the organisms being studied. This is the same error which Meyer displays not just once but several times in his risible effort at pretending that Intelligent Design could be a viable scientific alternative to modern evolutionary theory.

Utterly irrelevant.

Constant Mews, I’ve corrected my errors. If I didn’t DS would have reminded me of that. Instead, IMHO, this is what you are:

“Utterly irrelevant.” (Your words, not mine BTW.)

BTW, do you accept mine and DS’s conclusion that phylogenetic history in determining “the types of mutations that will most likely occur”? If you don’t then you’re no better than the typical clueless, and quite delusional, creo posting here.

Let me rephrase that:

Do you accept mine and DS’s conclusion that phylogenetic history is very important in determining the types of mutations that are most likely to occur?

Since we’ve been a bit sidetracked here, I am reposting this as a reminder for anyone who hasn’t visited this thread before:

With ample thanks to OgreMkV, here are the revised guidelines regarding how one should write to Amazon.com’s Customer relations:

Please contact Amazon.com Customer Relations, and write a polite, but strongly worded, letter that indicates these very points regarding Stephen Meyer’s abysmal “Signature in the Cell”:

1) I object to Amazon.com’s recognition of “Signature in the Cell” as one of the best science books of this year.

2) Intelligent Design isn’t science since it has not been formally proposed, tested, or published in any reputable scientific publications. Furthermore it has been shown in every court case that intelligent design or creationism has been involved in that neither is science. When the ‘scientists’ who publish these books start publishing in peer reviewed journals, then you can make these science books.

3) Stephen Meyer lacks the professional credentials or experience necessary for him to write a science book.

4) His publisher, HarperCollins, opted to publish the book under its HarperOne imprint, which it reserves solely for its religious - NOT SCIENCE - books.

5) The Discovery Institute has begun a campaign on behalf of Meyer’s latest book in an effort to improve unfairly the book’s ratings with Amazon.

6) Moreover, several Discovery Institute staff, most notably Senior Fellows David Klinghoffer and William Dembski, have written 5 Star reviews. Their reviews should be considered solely as Discovery Institute propaganda and should be removed by Amazon.

7) I strongly encourage you to revoke the science book status of “Signature in the Cell”. If you choose not to, then I would ask the person who makes this decision to point out one testable hypothesis made by Meyer in this book and the results of the test Meyer did to show his hypothesis as valid.

PS: I encourage anyone who has read Meyer’s abysmal nonsense to write a one star negative review at Amazon.com. Please also vote in favor of mine, Don Prothero’s and other harshly negative, but quite accurate,reviews of Meyer’s absurd, “doorstop” manifesto.

Clarify what you - an admitted non-geneticist - mean by types.

And what does this matter? You are still ignoring your actual errors.

Why, John? Why try to deflect your failure to acknowledge failure?

It won’t make your ignorance look any better; and since it’s only ignorance, it’s readily correctable.

John Kwok said:

Let me rephrase that:

Do you accept mine and DS’s conclusion that phylogenetic history is very important in determining the types of mutations that are most likely to occur?

BioLogos has just posted a review of Sig in the Cell here. I think it’s significant when scientifically-literate Christians reject ID claims.

Thanks and I just tried to post this over at that blog in reply, but my comment was too long:

Darrel,

I stumbled upon your review by accident, after receiving a tip from someone else who comments often over at Panda’s Thumb. Yours may be the best written and most thoughtful critique of Meyer’s book that I have encountered anywhere online. However, I don’t share your desire that there should be some kind of rapproachment between ID supporters and those who are professional scientists working within the mainstream scientific community.

First, Intelligent Design isn’t valid science, period. While I understand and appreciate philosopher Philip Kitcher’s observation that Intelligent Design is “dead science” - merely since it was once an important philosophical construct that guided scientific research from the 16th through 18th centuries - it was rejected a long time ago by science. That Meyer and his Discovery Institute “colleagues” insistance that it deserves a place at the scientific “round table” is not one borne of sincerity, but instead, out of duplicity, which they have demonstrated countlessly ever since Intelligent Design was proclaimed by Philip Johnson and William Dembski, among others, to be an important “challenge” to evolution; a challenge that has no merit whatsoever simply because Dembski, Meyer et al. have refused to subject it to scientific peer review or even try to do any scientific research that could demonstrate that Intelligent Design is valid science.

So what have Dembski and Meyer and their Discovery Institute “colleagues” done to demonstrate Intelligent Design’s scientific viability? Absolutely nothing, but engage in a myriad examples of intellectual dishonesty, ranging from misquoting published scientific research to other, more blatant acts of duplicity, up to and including bearing false witness against eminent scientists (Dembski reported eminent University of Texas ecologist Eric Pianka to the Federal Department of Homeland Security nearly four years ago, after hearing of Pianka’s controversal address before the Texas Academy of Sciences, in which Pianka observed that Earth’s biosphere might be better off if humanity became extinct from an Ebola-like plague; Pianka was questioned either by the FBI or Homeland Security thanks to Dembski’s “tip”.), and stealing and plagiarizing the work of others (which, again, Dembski all but admitted to when he was confronted elsewhere online, admitting that he had “borrowed” a Harvard University cell animation video that was used by him during his Fall 2007 lectures, and which he may have also “lent” to Premise Media, the producers of “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”). Given the most un-Christian behavior exhibited by Meyer and his colleagues, do you still think that one should seek any reasonable dialogue with Intelligent Design advocates (most of whom are Fundamentalist Protestant “Christians”.)? I sincerely hope that you will agree with me that the answer must be most certainly, “No!”.

Sincerely yours,

John Kwok

John K,

If you’ll break up your post into several pieces you’ll be able to post it on BL one chunk at a time.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on December 10, 2009 3:11 PM.

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