Another Review of the Behe Review

We recently wrote First Review of Behe’s New Book about a review in Science magazine of the new creationist book by Discoveroid Michael Behe. The Discoveroids have posted a few times since then to criticize that review.

Now they’ll have more to blog about because of what we just found at EurekAlert, the online news service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Their headline is Defending Darwin: Scientists respond to attack on evolution. It’s a copy of this article published by The City University of New York (CUNY). Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Science magazine, the country’s top scientific journal, has taken the rare step of publishing criticism of a new book. The book is called Darwin Devolves, and Science says its author, Michael Behe, is on a “crusade to overturn evolution.”

Oh, how cruel! Then they say:

The magazine invited three biologists, all experts on evolution, to refute Behe. The biologists are John Jay College Professor Nathan H. Lents, a noted researcher on cell and cancer biology, genetics, and forensic science; Washington University Professor S. Joshua Swamidass, a physician-scientist; and Michigan State Professor Richard E. Lenski, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a past MacArthur “genius” fellow.

Bah — a bunch of Darwinists! How could they possibly review the work of Behe, whom EurekAlert describes like this:

Behe, a biochemist, is a leader in the “intelligent design” movement [Ooooooooooooh!], which contends that living organisms are too complex to have evolved on their own. The claim is cited by some as proof that a supernatural force has designed all living things.

Okay, those are the opposing forces. EurekAlert tells us:

Lents and his colleagues discredit Behe in elaborate detail, noting that he’s “selective” in his examples and ignores evidence contradicting his theories. Modern evolutionary theory, the authors write, “provides a coherent set of processes — mutation, recombination, drift, and selection — that can be observed in the laboratory and modeled mathematically and are consistent with the fossil record and comparative genomics.” In contrast, “Behe’s assertion that ‘purposeful design’ comes from an influx of new genetic information cannot be tested through science.”

They continue:

Darwin Devolves is being released at a time when science in the U.S. is under assault. Unfounded fear of vaccines has led to measles epidemics. Climate change is causing irreversible damage. And the proper teaching of evolutionary science is being undermined by local school boards. By publishing a response to Darwin Devolves in the flagship journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the AAAS is signaling its willingness to call out pseudoscience and defend the facts supported by scientific research.

We have no doubt that the Discoveroids will refer to this as “bullying.” Skipping a bit, here’s how the article ends:

Of course, evolutionary theory has been challenged by non-scientific arguments since Charles Darwin published Origin of the Species in 1859. Darwin Devolves continues this pseudoscientific tradition.

Now the Discoveroids will blog their review of what CUNY said about the review in Science. It’s getting somewhat circular, but it’s jolly good fun.

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14 responses to “Another Review of the Behe Review

  1. Yesterday I searched for other critiques of Behe’s book. (Spoiler alert, there are none… yet). BUT… the DI appears at the top of every search because they have devoted so many articles to the review. It was then that I realised that their “defence” of Behe (three so far) wasn’t about the rights or wrongs of the review. It is nothing but old-fashioned marketing to ensure their posts appear in every search.

  2. Michael Fugate

    I wonder who reviewed his 2010 Quarterly Review paper (on which the book is based)? How did they let him get away with ignoring heaps of contradictory data? I notice he included no acknowledgements in the paper – does that mean he didn’t ask for advice or didn’t take any advice given?

  3. Behe communicated directly with the “Intelligent Designer,” thus there was no need for citations, references or any other works.

  4. ‘Science says its author, Michael Behe, is on a “crusade to overturn evolution.”‘ Some of those crusades to Palestine didn`t turn out too well.

  5. Yup, they are literally crying “fraud.” John West has not even read Behe’s book, he admits. Regardless, this is our response to him: Nathan has several articles dropping tomorrow. I have one article. There are more coming in the next few weeks. Stay tuned. This will be a fun ride.

  6. The 2010 Quarterly Review paper Behe references was co-published with an incisive critique of his work that he does not appear to have responded to yet. We included it in our references.

  7. Karl Goldsmith

    Don’t know why that posted as Anonymous.

    [*Voice from above*] Nothing is hidden from the Cosmic Aardvark.

  8. About the Argument From Irreducible Complexity.

    As far as I can understand it, it is assumed as a principle of natural law, that an Irreducible Complexity cannot be produced by natural means.
    ISTM that if someone announced a new principle of natural law, there would be a burden to demonstrate that principle. It is not up to the skeptics to demonstrate otherwise.
    Ever since Behe popularized he argument, some 20 years ago, the argument has been over there are conclusive demonstrations of the natural origin of the natural origin of certain biological functions. Rather than being, as there ought to be, a search for a conclusive demonstraton of the lack of such natural origins due to Irreducible Complexity.

    In brief, why should one be interested in Irreducible Complexity, as long as it remains a principle without backing?

    There is more that I have to say about tis, but I rather leave it at that for the moment, rather than obscure this obvious issue.

  9. “a search for a conclusive demonstration of the lack of such natural origins due to Irreducible Complexity.”
    Such a search requires (gasp!) actual work, plus the risk that the search will be fruitless. “Evolution theory can’t explain IC hence a Grand Old Designer” (blessed be MOFO!) is so much easier. Of course it is just a god of the gaps with fancy terminology added.

  10. @FrankB
    the risk that search will be fruitless

    Sometimes, one can learn from the mistakes of history. Have the poromoters of Irreducible Complexity explored the 300 years of the concept? That might help them in avoiding the searches which have turned out to be fruitless.

  11. Michael Fugate

    Lents has a longer review here:

    Everyone might be interested in this paper on type 3 secretion system and flagella:

  12. Art Hunt and Nathan Lents just published a phenomenal article on Polar Bears and Behe. This one is a good read: More are planned too.

  13. May I express reservations about specialists in evolutionary biology publishing scientific rebuttals about details of creationist arguments.
    It tends to lend credibility, scientific respectability to creationism.

    Even if there were someting to the creationist critique of evolution, it would not consitute a reason to consider creationism as an account for how things work in the world of life: an alternative to evolution. For there is no alternative to evolution being proposed. Even if one accepts the traditional Abrahamic religion belief in creation, that does not entail any details about the variety of ilfe., and therefore is not an alternative to evolution – let alone the only alternative, that which once is forced to accept even if there were major fatal flaws in evolution.

    Even pre-scholers recognize our relatives in the primates. And the Bible, for example, does not have anything explaining away that relationship.