Discovery Institute: Their Peer-Reviewed Papers

There’s a new campaign being conducted by the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

What campaign? We’ve written about it before (see Discovery Institute’s Long March to Respectability). They’re desperately attempting to build a record of publishing intelligent design papers in what they consider peer reviewed journals, in an effort to overcome one of the most devastating criticisms their “science” received in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.

And that brings us to Casey Luskin, our favorite creationist, and the only one who isn’t a Discoveroid “fellow.” We know that Casey is a sensitive lad, so a while ago your Curmudgeon compassionately remedied the Discoveroids’ cruel insult (see: Casey Luskin Is Named a Curmudgeon Fellow).

In recent weeks, Casey has been touting what he claims is a list of “some 50-plus peer-reviewed scientific papers that support intelligent design” (see As the Intelligent Design Movement Publishes Peer-Reviewed Literature, Critics Backpedal ). Yeah, we’re backpedaling. Publishing papers is one thing, and doing research that actually provides evidence to support the “theory” of intelligent design is quite another. If the former describes the latter, the Discoveroids will have something to brag about.

We’ve seen Casey’s list of “evidence” before, and it didn’t amount to anything (see Discovery Institute: Intelligent Designer or Zeus?), so we’ve been wondering about Casey’s list of peer-reviewed papers. We’re confident that the content of those papers is nothing of any consequence, but we didn’t want to spend time reviewing the list so we could discuss the professional status of the journals — whether they’re captives of creationist organizations, or maybe lower-tier industrial trade journals. Nor did we want to check out the quality of their reviewers — whether they’re professional biologists or merely creationist sympathizers.

Fortunately, Casey has just described his list for us, thus sparing us the agony of slogging through the publications. The Discoveroid blog post in which he does this is Answering Objections about Discovery Institute’s Peer-Review Page. It’s Casey’s defense of the Discoveroids’ list of publications. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us and Casey’s links omitted:

Recently I got an e-mail from someone asking how we would respond to objections to our newly updated page listing ID-friendly peer-reviewed scientific papers. Apparently a critic had said that the papers don’t count because some don’t specifically use the term “intelligent design.” While some of the articles do use the term “intelligent design,” many of them do not.

That’s a trivial criticism, which is probably why Casey chose to discuss it. He continues:

Here’s why this objection fails: The short answer is that all of the articles endorse ID arguments, in one way or another, whether or not they use the term “intelligent design.” For example, there are papers by biochemist Michael Behe, who is clearly pro-ID, that don’t use the term ID. But those papers argue that the complexity of biological systems is too much for Darwinian mechanisms to produce. That’s an ID argument.

The articles “endorse ID arguments, in one way or another.” Whoopie! Uh, Casey … it’s not enough to “endorse” ID. You need to support it with evidence, and your claims need to be testable and falsifiable. What else does Casey say? Let’s read on:

ID proponents would add that intelligent design is necessary to produce that complexity — and some of the papers go that far. But all of the papers endorse basic ID arguments.

Same thing — the papers endorse ID, which means nothing. We can provide ten thousand recent sermons that “endorse” the Genesis account of creation, but that’s not scientific evidence. Does Casey have anything else? We continue:

For example, it’s true that the first article in the list doesn’t use the term “intelligent design,” but it does favorably cite the arguments of Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer, William Dembski, and others (specifically referencing their work), showing that their arguments have scientific legitimacy. The author closes by stating: “It is therefore time to sharpen the minds of students, biologists, and physicians for the possibility of a new paradigm.”

That’s pathetic. We didn’t want to do this, but we’re going to look at that first article. Here it is: Dissecting Darwinism, by Joseph A. Kuhn, published in the Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings. At the threshold, we note that the article’s title uses the term “Darwinism.” That’s a dead giveaway. Secondly, we note that the author is a surgeon, not a biologist. Thirdly (after reading the article) we see that this is a survey article; it’s not about biological research done by the author.

Specifically, it’s a survey of the evolution-creationism controversy. Even more specifically, it’s a survey of the alleged “weaknesses” of the theory of evolution, such as the origin of life, the so-called irreducible complexity of some cellular features, the artificial distinction between micro- and macro-evolution, the scarcity of transitional fossils, etc. It cites the writings of various creationist authors, such as Behe, Dembski, Meyer, etc. — footnote 36 even cites Casey Luskin! In other words, this peer-reviewed article of which the Discoveroids boast is just like a Discoveroid blog article.

Now we’ll take a look at that journal’s editorial board. They’re listed here, and with one exception they’re all MDs — not a professional biologists among them. We’re confident that they’re all fine practitioners, and that there’s useful medical information to be found in their publication, but it’s is not a journal where path-breaking evolutionary research will be published.

Okay, what more does Casey say? He’s still talking about that article in the Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, which must be the pick of the litter:

Does the paper mention “intelligent design” by name? No. Does it support ID arguments? Yes. Is it fair to say this article isn’t ID-friendly? No, it’s not fair to say this isn’t an ID-friendly article. These articles are endorsing, whether explicitly or implicitly, the ID paradigm.

Here’s how Casey ends his defense of the Discoveroids’ list of peer-reviewed publications:

So if the only objection from critics is that some of the papers don’t explicitly use the term “intelligent design,” that’s a pretty weak response. These are peer-reviewed mainstream scientific papers endorsing ID-arguments, some mentioning “intelligent design” by name, some not. It’s the Darwin activist’s worst nightmare — which is why they are scrapping to find ways to respond.

That’s our worst nightmare? Hey Casey — if that’s all we “Darwinists” have to worry about, then we have no worries. The Discoveroids’ much-ballyhooed list of intelligent design papers is nothing. Nothing at all.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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9 responses to “Discovery Institute: Their Peer-Reviewed Papers

  1. “The primary confl icts or anomalies with neo-Darwinian
    evolution lie in the failure of mutation and natural selection to
    account for the formation of DNA, the information of DNA,
    or the complexity of the human cell”

    Another argument from ignorance and by assertion. The attack gerbil must really be straining at his bonds (of rational thought) to consider this anything but poorly reasoned propaganda.

  2. Why have you changed your name, Tundra Boy?

  3. research that actually provides evidence to support the “theory” of intelligent design

    How about a description of “Intelligent Design”?

    Something positive, rather than “something, somehow is wrong with evolutionary biology”?

    For example, what happened, when or where? For example, what, when, or where ID did not happen? Could not, will not?

    For example, something about the intelligent designer(s) which led them to do whatever they did (or did not)? Their motives, their abilities, the materials and methods they worked with, the rules that they follow?

    Once we get some description of what ID says, then we can get around to asking for evidence.

  4. Casey says: “The short answer is that all of the articles endorse ID arguments, in one way or another, whether or not they use the term “intelligent design.”… But those papers argue that the complexity of biological systems is too much for Darwinian mechanisms to produce. That’s an ID argument.”
    I’ve probably said this before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again, but…
    Only a lawyer would think that science is properly done by argument. Especially a bad one like “(my perception of) a lack of evidence for your theory is positive evidence for mine.”

  5. The article by Kuhn is a real mess consisting of one hoary old creationist claim after another. It’s not a research paper and it’s hardly a review. It’s more like a long Letter to the Editor. Also, Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings are not peer-reviewed. They publish anything by people associated with the center. The medical center, by the way, is not associated with Baylor University, it’s simply near the university, like the Baylor University Donut Hut.

    If numbskull Luskin is going to use Kuhn as a standard, rather, low bar, for ID to slink over then Jack Chick tracts qualify as “ID-friendly,” too! Ain’t that right Big Daddy?

  6. So now, leaving aside the laughable charade of the ID crowd creating its own “peer-reviewed” journals and publications, in Casey’s fevered irrational illogical propaganda seeking mind any “peer-reviewed” paper that wonders how exactly something could have evolved, or that suggests every step, in exact detail, is currently unknown, supports ID.
    Casey, you moron, Judge Jones addressed this logically invalid argument in his decision. Even one of your own guys, Minnich, conceded such arguments do not support ID.

    ID is at bottom premised upon a false dichotomy, namely, that to the extent evolutionary theory is discredited, ID is confirmed. (5:41 (Pennock)). This argument is not brought to this Court anew, and in fact, the same argument, termed “contrived dualism” in McLean, was employed by creationists in the 1980’s to support “creation science.” The court in McLean noted the “fallacious pedagogy of the two model approach” and that “[i]n efforts to establish ‘evidence’ in support of creation science, the defendants relied upon the same false premise as the two model approach . . . all evidence which criticized evolutionary theory was proof in support of creation science.” McLean, 529 F. Supp. at 1267, 1269. We do not find this false dichotomy any more availing to justify ID today than it was to justify creation science two decades ago.

    ID proponents primarily argue for design through negative arguments against evolution , as illustrated by Professor Behe’s argument that “irreducibly complex” systems cannot be produced through Darwinian, or any natural, mechanisms. (5:38-41 (Pennock); 1:39, 2:15, 2:35-37, 3:96 (Miller); 16:72-73 (Padian); 10:148 (Forrest)). However, we believe that arguments against evolution are not arguments for design.Expert testimony revealed that just because scientists cannot explain today how biological systems evolved does not mean that they cannot, and will not, be able to explain them tomorrow. (2:36-37 (Miller)). As Dr. Padian aptly noted, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” (17:45 (Padian)). To that end, expert testimony from Drs. Miller and Padian provided multiple examples where Pandas asserted that no natural explanations exist, and in some cases that none could exist, and yet natural explanations have been identified in the intervening years. It also bears mentioning that as Dr. Miller stated, just because scientists cannot explain every evolutionary detail does not undermine its validity as a scientific theory as no theory in science is fully understood. (3:102 (Miller)).

    …Irreducible complexity is a negative argument against evolution, not proof of design, a point conceded by defense expert Professor Minnich. (2:15 (Miller); 38:82 (Minnich) (irreducible complexity “is not a test of intelligent design; it’s a test of evolution”). Irreducible complexity additionally fails to make a positive scientific case for ID, as will be elaborated upon below.

    And so on and so forth.

  7. I’ve read a number of objections to Casey’s list, such as that many of the articles were in the DI’s own captive journal, some are books (not peer reviewed), some are presentations at conferences (not peer reviewed), many are in little known, non-biology related publications, some articles merely “support” ID – according to the DI’s twisted logic or reinterpreting other people’s work, and they even include book and philosophy journal articles by the noted biologist William Lain Craig in their list.

    I haven’t yet read an objection that the list is weak because not all articles directly mention ID. Casey either made that up, or he choose to answer that because he cannot defend the real objections to the list, which are focused on the credibility of articles therein as representative of peer reviewed scientific work.

  8. It’s difficult to believe that Casey and Company are truly this dense. The requirement is obvious: original scientific research specifically guided by the ID framework of ideas. Yet the Discoveroids don’t seem to get it.

    Take the example of the Gauger/Axe work. They’re testing the hypothesis that a particular modern protein can “evolve” into another particular modern protein via Darwinian processes. There are at least two problems with this.

    First and less importantly, nobody claims that this particular pair of proteins “evolved” via Darwinian processes. Rather, we would claim that both proteins “descend” from an ancestral protein of the same “family” of proteins.

    Second and more importantly, this isn’t scientific research conducted within the allegedly “positive” ID framework of ideas. Rather, it’s their “interpretation” of “evolutionary theory” that intellectually drives this. If this research allegedly “supports” ID, then they’re really saying that ID is a negative argument.

    IMO this “research” is nothing but a smoke screen. The goal has always been to tear down evolutionary theory as “Darwinism,” leaving Creationism (ID) standing as the only contender.