VanDyke’s response begins with Adam White saying:
Lawrence VanDyke continues to defend himself against the vicious attacks of Professor Brian Leiter and others. He posts this reply to Ed Brayton regarding Leiter’s attack.
For the record, I don’t think my posts on this situation can fairly be portrayed as a vicious attack. Professor Leiter’s reply, I suppose, might be called such. While I agree with him on the substantive issues, I think he would do better to restrain his rhetoric and be a bit more collegial. It only distracts from the substantive issues. I understand his frustration, believe me. You get tired of hearing the same tired nonsense over and over again, and I often have to reign in my sarcasm, occasionally failing to do so.
Having said that, however, I think the reaction from Hunter Baker and VanDyke, striking the martyr pose and accusing Leiter of threatening both VanDyke’s career and academic freedom, is hysterically overblown. Academic freedom does not insulate one’s published writings from criticism, no matter how sharply worded that criticism is. Still, I think even the informal charge of academic fraud is over the line. I think Mr. VanDyke is guilty of wishful thinking, of badly misreading (as opposed to intentionally misrepresenting) several sources, and of swallowing a lot of nonsense that would not stand up to scrutiny. I don’t think he’s guilty of academic fraud, which is a serious accusation that shouldn’t be thrown around casually even in an informal context. Now, to the substance of the dispute….
VanDyke’s response begins:
Mr. Brayton – most of your response argues that the links I provided in support of my claim regarding peer-reviewed articles don’t in fact support that claim. Whether you are right or wrong, you seem to acknowledge that what I was trying to support was a claim about peer-reviewed articles “in support of ID.” Otherwise why even argue the point – Meyers has already alleged that Axe is a “closet” ID supporter. But later on you seem to revert to arguing that I somehow was intentionally trying to misrepresent something with my ellipses. I wasn’t.
Frankly, I have a hard time believing that the ellipses was not intention. The ellipses only replaced 4 words, for crying out loud, so there was no reason to use them in the first place, multiple times, especially when those 4 words were absolutely crucial to the claim that Leiter made. In a reply of probably several thousand words, you felt the need to take out 4 words to save space and then just happened to give an answer that, in reality, only answered your modified version of his position, not the position he actually took? That does strain credulity a bit, but I suppose I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt on that. But the reality remains that Leiter’s claim remains true and your links did not answer that claim substantively.
The sources I to which I linked say that there are peer-reviewed articles “in support of ID,” not just peer-reviewed articles by ID proponents. You are grasping at straws if you are trying to show I was trying to misrepresent Leiter.
Actually, the sources you quote don’t really say that at all. In both links, Dembski certainly implies that those articles support ID, at least in his introduction to them. He says that they show that “intelligent design research is in fact now part of the mainstream peer-reviewed scientific literature.” But when he introduces the actual articles he is citing, he doesn’t try to claim that they “support ID”, because he knows that they don’t. He has been caught at this game before, as I mentioned in my previous response. More than once, the DI has been caught presenting lists of references that, by implication, allegedly support ID only to have it pointed out that those citations do not, in fact, support ID. So then they backpeddle and say, “Okay, so they don’t really support ID, but they do dissent from Darwinism.” But then it gets pointed out that they really don’t dissent from Darwinism, they merely pose non-adaptationist or non-selective mechanisms, all of which are also well within the purview of evolutionary theory. But none of that stops them from making the same claim all over again to a different audience. They consistently misrepresent the work of scientists and they consistently get caught at it. THAT, I would suggest, is academic fraud. And a careful reading of the links you gave would have shown that none of the sources that Dembski cites actually supports ID or challenges Leiter’s position on that question.
However, regarding your claims that the articles themselves don’t support ID, I can’t argue that directly with you. I’m not a scientist. But I am quite confident that the scientists at Discovery Institute would argue (and have argued) vehemently that those articles do indeed support ID.
As I noted above, they actually don’t argue vehemently that those articles do indeed support ID, they only imply it, because they know that they can’t support that claim. That’s why they often phrase it as “these references challenge Darwinism” (though in fact they don’t). Nor do I think one has to be a scientist in order to analyze the meaning of articles. The man whose claims you cited, Bill Dembski, is not a scientist either, his degrees are in mathematics, philosophy and theology. Perhaps that explains why he so often gets it wrong when he implies that an article supports ID, but in his case I am far more inclined to blame it on dishonesty than ignorance. He has had the truth pointed out to him too many times, and he is not a stupid man by any means. But he is guilty either of being extremely sloppy or of being dishonest, and since his sloppiness always just happens to coincide with a misrepresentation that supports his position, I think dishonesty is the more reasonable, if less charitable, conclusion.
I am not a scientist either, merely an educated amateur, but I know that a paper that shows that you have to change 20% of the amino acids in an enzyme before function is impaired does not, by any sane criteria, show “extreme sensitivity to perturbation”. That is an outright misrepresentation of the article, there are no two ways about it.
Which brings us back to the real issue. The issue isn’t really about the peer reviewed articles. I didn’t bring them up in my Note; Leiter did in his attack. You have already admitted they are a weak argument. The real questions still are: First, did I commit “scholarly fraud” as Leiter blatantly accused me of? Second, did Leiter have “factual errors” and “misleading innuendo” in his attack (since he accuses me of this, by his definition his post was “scholarly fraud” if he engaged in such in the very post he attacked me with)?
While I’m sure that is your real issue, it’s not mine. I’ve already stated that I think that charge, even while he probably intended it in an informal manner rather than a formal one, was unnecessary and overly combative. I’ll leave you and Leiter to handle the “I know you are but what am I” exchange, I’m addressing the substantive issues, the question of whether ID is a legitimate challenge to evolution and whether it has any place in a science classroom. That was the substance of Beckwith’s book, the substance of your endorsement of it, and that is what interests me.
I’m also just intensely fascinated, as an observer, at the kneejerk reaction from ID advocates, immediately claiming persecution whenever anyone disputes them or disparages their work. As any historian of science will tell you, this is one of the hallmarks of crank science. Every obscure crank in the history of science has claimed to be the victim of a hidebound and dogmatic scientific establishment that fears his Truthtm and will stop at nothing to destroy him in order to preserve their favored position in academia and society. As I said before, this makes for good public relations but very poor science. If Dembski and his colleagues really have a scientific model that can withstand scrutiny, then let them put it out before the scientific community, open it up for peer review, suggest hypotheses that can be tested, and get on with the business of testing them. The fact that they have not done so speaks volumes, I think.
Finally, I’ve already admitted that I made a mistake in my first post here at Ex Parte by supporting my “more than two scientists” point using NCSE’s “Steve” site…
But in doing so, you misread it again. You said:
About the “Project Steve,” I see what Mr. Brayton is saying. I assumed that because the site parodied supporters of “ID” as “Steve” that when it referred to “Steve” it was referring to ID supporters. I see now my misreading.
But that’s just another way of misreading the article. It did not “parody supporters of ID as Steve”. The Steves in question are some 400+ scientists named Steve (after Steve Gould) who do NOT support ID. So you didn’t see your misreading, you merely substituted misreading #2 for misreading #1. At the very least, this is extraordinarily sloppy citing, especially for a Harvard law student. I suspect, and would hope, that such shoddy citing on a paper at that school would bring down the wrath of your professors and the very poor grade such work demands. And this has been fairly consistent. You cited Dembski’s citation of allegedly peer-reviewed journal articles that support ID without bothering to read them and see if that citation was correct. You cited a list of 100 ID supporters without bothering to read the statement to which they agreed, which does not in any way question evolution or support ID. In short, you’ve kind of swallowed whole the rhetoric of the ID movement without taking the time to do any research on the subject, or even, it seems, to read over the text of the sources you yourself cited. And in doing so, you’ve opened yourself up to being accused of sloppiness and lack of rigor, at best, and dishonesty at worst. Either way, I think it’s fair to expect more than this from a student at one of the finest academic institutions in the world and I certainly think it’s fair to point out those shortcomings, especially in light of your desire to cast yourself as the victim of a monolithic orthodoxy.