Dear Mr. Luskin:
In the interest of full disclosure, I have not fully engaged in the uproarious brouhaha surrounding Michael Egnor, and have been relatively silent here at the Refuge because I have concentrated on, well, my daily life in science rather than the blog. I’m one of those scientists who buries herself at the bench, or more accurately these days, herds the scientists under my managerial umbrella to do their jobs instead of flinging scat with the likes of the Discovery Institute. I’ll leave that to Kevin who can handle that task most adroitly. I will also note that with regard to “foul-mouthed evolutionists,” I am in awe of Kevin’s command of baroquely scatological language, and I will encourage him to fire it at will.
Science is not a tea party, Mr. Luskin, and sometimes things get rough, including language. This is not just the case on the more anonymous Internet, but also in the wild and woolly world of Real Life Science, even exclusive of debates surrounding evolution and intelligent design. Still, I am glad to hear that you can cheerfully forgive Mr. Beck as per your article,
However, there’s a bit of punctuation in your piece with which I take some issue:
These ad hominem attacks remind me of Kevin Beck’s post last month on a “scienceblog” called “Dr. Joan Bushwell’s Chimpanzee Refuge…”
“Scienceblog?” In quotation marks? Is this accompanied by a Dr. Evil/Mike Myers’ impersonation? If you took any time to read the Chimpanzee Refuge, you would find there is science here. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make quite the splash that the evolution-creationism controversies do. Although you did not resort to egregious foul language, those snarky little quotation marks are rankling and indicate to me that you didn’t bother to look at anything else on the blog. If the science is not hardcore enough for you, well, gosh, I’d be happy to wax eloquent on the structural details of sirtuins and their potential allosteric activation. I’m sure you and the rest of our readers would find that deeply fascinating.
As to part 2 of your question, “How do Darwinian mechanisms produce truly novel biological information,” I highly recommend The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin’s Dilemma by Marc Kirschner & John Gerhart. In a nutshell, novel patterns are formed through basic (and ancient) building blocks (conserved processes), analogous to a bunch of Legos in a pile on the floor which can be constructed variously into a castle or a facsimile of a suburban house. Check it out. It’s a well written book.
There. I imparted that information without an ad hominem attack. Now please do me a favor and check out the rest of the Refuge before you fling about your own cheerfully polite form of scat in the form of quotation marks. I’d be more than happy to discuss my scientific credentials with you if you believe this is a “science blog.”
Yours in at least temporary “civility,”