*PUKE*

Francis ‘I dont need no stinkin evidence’ Collins might be the next head of the NIH:

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will likely bring on geneticist Francis Collins, leader of the Human Genome Project, as its new director, Bloomberg News reported on Saturday.

“NIH is a huge enterprise, and I think Francis has very good experience with getting the best out of a huge enterprise from what he did in the genome project,” David Baltimore, who won the 1975 Nobel Prize in medicine, told Bloomberg earlier this year. “He’s also very well liked in Congress.”

Well, that should tell you something, David. Hey, guess who else likes him?

*PUKE*

Krulwich: If a human being were to create life from nonlife, that would cross–in my view, anyway–a line that I didn’t know that we could cross. A mystery would be demystified. It doesn’t strike you that way?

Collins: We have been demystifying life for decades. Ever since we figured out “spontaneous generation” is not right, that, in fact, life comes into being from things like spores and eggs, and so forth, we have been learning that life follows certain principles and rules. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a microbiologist who would say, “There is something unscientific, some vital force about E. coli that allows it to keep going.”

Krulwich: So, really, you feel that way?

Collins: Yeah.

Krulwich: A very little, itty-bitty thing gets along because it’s just chemicals in the right order.

Collins: Right. Now does that apply to human beings? No, I happen to think human beings fall in a different category. I think we, of all the organisms on the planet, have a spiritual nature which can’t be explained by those common elements and “instruction books” and references to machine analogies. We have these remarkable features such as the understanding of what’s right and wrong, which I don’t think is something that will come out in the study of biology. Nor is it something that I think evolution can explain.

So I am a person of faith, as you might be able to tell from that last remark. But my faith is not in any way resting upon whether or not it’s possible in a test tube, at some point, to generate something that looks like it replicated and had the properties of life.

“E. coli are not magic. Humans are magic. Also, it doesnt matter if you create life in a lab. The answer will always be ‘God did it’. Im the next head of the NIH!”

*PUKE*

So I’m not worried about God. I am worried about humans, because we have a long tradition of assuming greater importance for ourselves than we deserve. And so this does slip into the zone of hubris: “I’m no longer just an ordinary person; I am creating life. That makes me a little closer to God, and maybe a little less in need of Him, after all.” If somebody were to wrap themselves in that kind of philosophical mantle, then I think we’ve actually not upgraded man, we’ve downgraded him.

*DRY HEAVE*

*DRY HEAVE*

*spit*

… ugh…

Collins is afraid of science. Fear doesnt make a good leader. But threatening to make him head of the NIH makes a good substitute for ipecac.

Comments

  1. #1 Lycosid
    May 26, 2009

    Francis Collins, lacking the balls to follow logic to a conclusion since 1950.

  2. #2 Jeremiah
    May 26, 2009

    What’s the smartest way, as a mere citizen, to contest his potential appointment?

  3. #3 ERV
    May 26, 2009

    I dunno, Jeremiah *sips gingerale* We used these pages to try to knock RFK Jr. off the EPA short-list (worked), but Obama is pres now.

  4. #4 Optimus Primate
    May 26, 2009

    *Hands Abbie a box of Saltines*

    It could be worse!

    *Points at a certain Texan dentist*

    Srsly, though, at least he admits that E. Coli aren’t magic! That’s something, right? I’m grabbing at straws here. Help me out.

    Oh, fuck it. Never mind. Could you pass that bag, please? I’m feeling a little green around the gills, m’self.

  5. #5 William Wallace
    May 26, 2009

    I agree that Francis Collins should not be the head of the NIH. This guy should be the next supreme court justice.

  6. #6 Pierce R. Butler
    May 26, 2009

    What would Collins’s mysticism mean in practical terms if he does get the NIH job?

    Would he start pushing prayer-healing? Would he cancel psychological studies on improving behavior that don’t prioritize a “free will” model?

    Or would he just babble a lot of superstition during speeches and interviews while letting real science continue undisturbed (as seemed to be the case when he ran the Human Genome Project)?

  7. #7 Onkel Bob
    May 26, 2009

    As bad as it is, it could be worse. Keep in mind, the position is a political one, not a technical one. The director doesn’t direct the course of science, he gets on his knees and administers oral stimulation to numerous dried up old men. (And women who want to be old men) Just as grants are not awarded on the merits of the science, they are given out on the salesmanship of the writer, funding for NIH is not provided by need, its provided based on the quality of tongue work. Maybe his tongue is magic.

  8. #8 Optimus Primate
    May 27, 2009

    Am I the only one who’s starting to think that Willy Wally is a Poe? No one who actually had his head that far up his own ass could possibly breathe, could he?

  9. #9 knathon
    May 27, 2009

    Does it really influence his work as a scientist? Did he somehow fuck up the HGP that I don’t know about? Should we really try to stop someone from a position because of a personal belief? Maybe my committee should not approve my dissertation because I choose believe against all the evidence that my dog is the most intelligent canid in the state.
    WTF? Unless someone can show me otherwise, Collins seems to be a good scientist and a very good manager of investigators (not something that a lot of scientists can boast.) Yes, he does have some slightly insane beliefs, but that really doesn’t have anything to do with the job.

  10. #10 Richbank
    May 27, 2009

    Ummm…what!? From the first quote ” Right. Now does that apply to human beings? No, I happen to think human beings fall in a different category. I think we, of all the organisms on the planet, have a spiritual nature which can’t be explained by those common element…”

    Now the second: “humans…have a long tradition of assuming greater importance for ourselves than we deserve.”

    Is it just me who sees an inherent contradiction here? Does this guy not pay attention to his own words?

  11. #11 JK Finn
    May 27, 2009

    @Richbank: good call.
    Perhaps this should be read in context…

    ‘… [humans] have a long tradition of assuming greater importance for ourselves than we deserve.’ [For example, ] ‘… I think we, of all the organisms on the planet, have a spiritual nature which can’t be explained by those common elements and “instruction books” and references to machine analogies.’

    Yep. Makes sense.

  12. #12 Sigmund
    May 27, 2009

    His personal beliefs are almost comically irrational. He does, however, seem to be particularly adept at compartmentalization, keeping those beliefs far away from his previous role as head of the Human Genome Project and letting the science do the job there.
    I would suggest that his administrative and scientific skills should be those that are examined if he is on the shortlist rather than setting up some sort of ideological benchmark.
    So long as he follows methodological naturalism in his work we shouldn’t be too concerned that he privately believes in miracles.

  13. #13 Christophe Thill
    May 27, 2009

    “…because we have a long tradition of assuming greater importance for ourselves than we deserve.”

    Obviously true. If it weren’t, how could anyone believe in a deity who created humans in his image, and who cares about what you eat, the words you use and who you sleep with, as if it was a cosmic matter?

  14. #14 clinteas
    May 27, 2009

    WW babbled:

    This guy should be the next supreme court justice.

    Mwahahaha,WW,seems a latino woman will come first !! Mwahahaha,WW,had your stroke yet??

  15. #15 Orac
    May 27, 2009

    Or would he just babble a lot of superstition during speeches and interviews while letting real science continue undisturbed (as seemed to be the case when he ran the Human Genome Project)?

    Exactly. Collins is a perfectly fine choice, as he did an excellent job running the Human Genome Project. He is also an excellent scientists. So what if he’s religious? It’s irrelevant, to me at least.

  16. #16 clinteas
    May 27, 2009

    He is also an excellent scientists. So what if he’s religious? It’s irrelevant, to me at least.

    Orac,

    you are once more underestimating the effect of the splits Collins has to do to somehow unite his creation views with the science he knows.
    The cognitive dissonance in the man’s brain is palpable,and if you cant look at facts without seeing them through your religious filter,you should not be heading any government agency,let alone the medical research agency.

  17. #17 BaldApe
    May 27, 2009

    I think we, of all the organisms on the planet, have a spiritual nature which can’t be explained by those common elements and “instruction books” and references to machine analogies. We have these remarkable features such as the understanding of what’s right and wrong, which I don’t think is something that will come out in the study of biology. Nor is it something that I think evolution can explain.

    But it does explain why high profile preachers from mega-churches never get caught in hotels with hookers.

  18. #18 scripto
    May 27, 2009

    I don’t care if he thinks he shoots moonbeams out of his ass when he’s off the clock. Where is the evidence that his scientific or administrative skills are lacking? Like it or not he is a valuable bridge between the evangelical and scientific communities. Why pick this fight?

  19. #19 ERV
    May 27, 2009

    Orac–
    as he did an excellent job running the Human Genome Project
    Someone else did it faster and cheaper, but yes, Collins got it done. That he is *functional* is a rather low bar for head of the NIH.

    I think my biggest problem with Collins is that he behaves in a manner indistinguishable from a Creationist on a number of levels. Certainly he is more lucid than Engor, but things he says, things he does, mirror a cliche MD Creationist.

    Collins laments how much he hated biology when he was younger. All about memorizing things (*shakes angry fist at high school teacher*). He liked learning about learning! So he went into chemistry. But then he dropped out of grad school (learning about learning) and enrolled in med school (memorizing). Then he went *back* into research with an understanding of biology as ‘deep’ as Creationist MD– molecular machines, digital data, blah blah blah. Oh and when he was younger he was such an *angry* atheist, until he was introduced to CS Lewis.

    Collins life looks just like a Creationist MD, but hes just an ‘Evangelical’ MD. Theres a rice paper barrier between you thinking hes is ‘perfectly fine’ and putting on your Dr. Doom mask– That he accepts some aspects of evolution.

  20. #20 ERV
    May 27, 2009

    scripto–
    Where is the evidence that his scientific or administrative skills are lacking?
    If the only requirements for being head of the NIH are scientific and administrative competency, then any PI in the US could do it. So why Collins?

    Like it or not he is a valuable bridge between the evangelical and scientific communities
    What the hell does that have to do with the NIH?

  21. #21 Sigmund
    May 27, 2009

    I’m afraid you are making the same sort of mistake Matt Nisbett made. In the case of Nisbett he thought Collins’ religious beliefs should get him the job as Presidential Science advisor. In your case you say that his religious beliefs should preclude him from the post of NIH director.
    In both cases his private religious views should not be relevant. Only his work history and competency should be important and if that is the case then there is no reason why he can’t be a suitable candidate for the current post.

  22. #22 Mike_F
    May 27, 2009

    ERV, ERV, ERV…,

    The main qualification for NIH director is a proven ability to extract funding for science funding from his/her political taskmasters. If the economy continues to tank this feat will become more and more akin to striking rocks with a staff in order to elicit gushes of water. Somebody who kept the $ rolling in for the human genome project despite the existence of a leaner meaner private sector effort to do the same job is precisely the kind of person you need to head the NIH. The fact that his personal religious views are palatable to the other side of the aisle will actually be helpful in this task. Who knows, he might even be successful enough to keep your lab’ funding and graduate student fellowship coming in for the foreseeable future.

  23. #23 Paul Browne
    May 27, 2009

    I’m a little disappointed by the negative response here, as Orac, Sigmund and others have said what matters here is Collins’ scientific and administrative record, and on both he scores very highly.

    As to his religeous beliefs, well as an agnostic athiest I would certainly prefer if he didn’t push theistic evolution etc., but to be honest for every negative there’s a positive. I see his openness about his religeous belief being a bonus when it comes to persuading Christians, especially the more moderate ones, that creationism and ID are nonsense. I might not “like” theistic evolution but it certainly isn’t the threat to the public understanding of science that creationism and ID are. If I remember a survey from a couple of years back correctly a large minority, if not a majority, of practicing scientists are religeous believers, and I’m sure most of them have no difficulty reconciling evolution with the belief in a creator deity. So it’s likely that a fair proportion of the scientific community shares Collins’ beliefs about the origin of the universe (his views on morality are admittedly more problematic), and we would be shooting ourselves in the foot to require all scientific leaders to effectively declare themselves to be athiests.

  24. #24 ERV
    May 27, 2009

    Paul–
    what matters here is Collins’ scientific and administrative record, and on both he scores very highly
    Francis Collins vs Harold Varmus
    ‘Highly,’ compared to what?

    He did what he was tasked to do, ‘amazing’.

  25. #25 scripto
    May 27, 2009

    ERV
    Like it or not he is a valuable bridge between the evangelical and scientific communities
    What the hell does that have to do with the NIH?
    There are political considerations involved. In fact it’s all political. I’m sure there’s a thousand people that could do it but his appointment would remove one potential lightning rod for the “faith based” community and I see no reason to question his professional honesty.

  26. #26 Joshua Zelinsky
    May 27, 2009

    I’m not at all convinced that Collins is the most qualified candidate for the position. And Abbie is right that much of Collins’ background does sound suspiciously like a standard creationist. There is however the major exception being that Collins has managed to do a lot good science. Regardless, his personal religious beliefs shouldn’t be an issue. I don’t care if he personally worships the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Cthulhu, or the Invisible Pink Unicorn (Blessed be her horn. May her holy hooves never be shod) as long as he can do a good job in the position in question. I see no reason to think that his religious beliefs have interfered with his past scientific work and see no reason to think that it will interfere with this job.

  27. #27 Tommykey
    May 27, 2009

    I am worried about humans, because we have a long tradition of assuming greater importance for ourselves than we deserve.

    Funny, because it seems to me that it is religion that causes people to assume a greater importance for themselves than they deserve. “Wow, God created this vast universe and created us to serve Him. Nothing else matters in this universe except our own personal salvation.”

    You could see the same thing in the video of Hitchens at the Christian Book expo going against 4 or 5 Christians, and one of them rebuked Hitchens to the effect “Your message to people is that when they die their physical bodies will decay and that’s the end of it. Our message is that there is a God who loves you and wants you to be with him in heaven if you just accept his offer.”

    That’s the thing, isn’t it? Offering a message to someone because it is supposed to make that person feel better, regardless of whether or not it is objectively true.

  28. #28 Prometheus
    May 27, 2009

    Ahem……bureaucratic culture, allow me….

    *cracks knuckles*

    The NIH is a funding conduit for medical research. The background of the director and the director’s personal aesthetic is an enormous influence on the agenda.

    Look at the backgrounds and track back every major federal research initiative and emphasis in this country over the last century.

    http://www.nih.gov/about/almanac/archive/1999/historical-data/biographical.html

    From 1992-2002 the NIH dumped 102.6 million down the toilet. They have a special office for wasting money on woo.

    http://nccam.nih.gov/

    Visit it, I dare you. This is where tax dollars are burned while people die of cancer and infectious disease. They spend it on intercessory prayer efficacy studies and aromatherapy.

    You can thank Wygaarden for starting this nonsense up when Regan wouldn’t say the word AIDS with the first of a series of power of prayer studies and Bernadine Healy writing a check for any form of woo that purported to address medical “gender bias”.

    This junk is so entrenched that all Varmus could do is try and underfund it until it went away but the hew and cry over at the division of woo and their army of Oprah worshiping, quartz kissing druids and kindergarten Christians ready to shoot off a million e-mails because bok choi juice and prayer made their grandbabbies cancer disappear, is scary.

    So the upshot is that Collins is being appointed to appease the fundies and he will use the office and its financial power to further his personal agenda to the detriment and beggary of legitimate funding for real health problems.

    The National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine will grow fat while ERV hits the sidewalks with a tin cup trying to score private sector grants. Sorry Abbie, still time to go for that PhD in acupuncture.

    http://www.ccnh.edu/

    “Clayton College of Natural Health (CCNH) makes earning an alternative health education exciting and convenient.”

    Real Science is good but it is neither convenient nor exiting (usually). So there you go. Fake science it is!

  29. #29 Paul Browne
    May 27, 2009

    “Francis Collins vs Harold Varmus”

    Now that’s not fair…you got me;-)

    “‘Highly,’ compared to what?
    He did what he was tasked to do, ‘amazing’.”

    but before he was appointed to the NHGRI he had established a pretty good record through his development of positional cloning (PMID: 2950591) and it’s use to identify the genes responsible for diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis. That must be worth something!

  30. #30 Richard Wolford
    May 27, 2009

    I’m mixed on this personally; Collins has some serious issues regarding religion, but as far as I’m aware he’s still a good scientist. Considering his scientific credentials, could we expect to see an end to NCCAM? I would think a person with his background would dismiss acupuncture, homeopathy, and other such BS to the point that the department would effectively be gone if not shut down altogether.

  31. #31 Prometheus
    May 27, 2009

    scripto@25 wrote:

    “I see no reason to question his professional honesty.”

    I do.

    NHGRI made me nuts when they got to around 85% and Collins started flapping his arms and shouting ‘Mission accomplished!’ so that he could claim he brought the project in under budget and two years early.

    In fact they have dropped about three times the projection and are budgeted for over 500 million next year.

    The new projection is a decade to completion (if tech catches up) and will run about four times the original money estimate.

    Creepy.

    That would be professional dishonesty and an exploitation of science journalists (all of whom fell from the back of a turnip truck yesterday).

  32. #32 Paul
    May 27, 2009

    Considering his scientific credentials, could we expect to see an end to NCCAM? I would think a person with his background would dismiss acupuncture, homeopathy, and other such BS to the point that the department would effectively be gone if not shut down altogether.

    That’s hardly cut and dry. “We believe that faith and science both lead to truth about God and creation.” That’s from his Biologos Foundation site. Now, does that sound like evidence-based science or wishful thinking, aiming for one specific conclusion science?

  33. #33 Sven DiMilo
    May 27, 2009

    If the only requirements for being head of the NIH are scientific and administrative competency, then any PI in the US could do it.

    That’s stupid. Even any one of the Institutes is a very different system than any single laboratory.

    If he gets the job (as seems certain) and he starts trying to shoehorn his religion into it, then I’ll be as pissed off as anybody. He probably won’t, IMO.

  34. #34 Richard Wolford
    May 27, 2009

    That’s hardly cut and dry. “We believe that faith and science both lead to truth about God and creation.” That’s from his Biologos Foundation site. Now, does that sound like evidence-based science or wishful thinking, aiming for one specific conclusion science

    Well, but that’s religious faith he’s talking about (granted, it’s completely ignorant and wrong, but still…), so I’m not sure if one can equate religious thinking as Collins has demonstrated with homeopathy. In other words, where his god is not present (such as homeopathy), would he be willing to simply shut it down?

    Of course, it could also mean using his new position to spearhead more faith-based bullshit. I’m beginning to be less happy about his possible appointment (I started at a position of neutral, so now I am south of neutral).

  35. #35 Paul
    May 27, 2009

    Richard,

    In other words, where his god is not present (such as homeopathy), would he be willing to simply shut it down?

    The same shoddy reasoning he uses to promote god-belief can be easily applied to homeopathy, reiki, vaccines cause autism, and all sorts of unscientific beliefs.

    The point I was making by anecdote is that the apologetics in his book and the subsequent BioLogos site show a poor ability to build a cogent argument based on the principles of science. He’s done great things, and published papers. I can’t judge him there. But any freshman science student should be uncomfortable with the way people like him start with a conclusion and cherry pick their data to reach that (which is what gets us $10 million studies on the efficacy of prayer). In science, you develop a testable hypothesis and try to disprove it. You don’t fall back on reasoning along the lines of “by definition you can’t disprove a god that’s outside nature, therefore Yahweh sent his son to die for your sins” (pardon the paraphrase). He tells people that “God of the gaps” is a flawed argument, but lacks the introspection that his biggest proof of god (the “moral sense”) is just another gap (and nowhere near as unexplained by evolutionary biology than he pretends).

  36. #36 Prometheus
    May 27, 2009

    Okay ERV and PZ are really getting clobbered at Meyers’ blog over their position and I am at a loss.

    I caught the same flack when my response to Sonia Sotomayor was meh.

    She has impressive credentials, she is a so so writer(she’s Cervantes compared to Clarence Thomas but so is a sack of spuds) and meh.

    Of all the potential picks however she is the only one the President could point to and say “She saved baseball!”

    Sandra Day O’Connor is and was awesome. Her brain was as big as the outdoors and she was a brilliant jurist but she was picked so Reagan could give feminists the finger and a birthday present to Barry Goldwater at the same time.

    That’s politics.

    People are dumb and its expedient.

    Okay.

    The problem here is not the credentials.

    Ultimately the credentials are meaningless without the tag line.

    The problem here is that the tag line is NOT: “He was head of the human genome project!”

    The problem here is that the tag line IS: “He loves Jesus AND science!”

    *cue balloons confetti wave flag*

    It is crap.

    I get the enthusiasm over the revolutionary nature of the present administration, I do. I’m loving it too but putting critical thinking aside because you are too busy fapping to some ecstatic personal variant of post election Stockholm Syndrome is just wretched. It was appropriate for a candidate. For a sitting public official it is pathetic.

    This is a bad decision for all the wrong reasons. The President is apologizing to religion on behalf of science with this appointment. Shame on him.

    Now snap out of it and pull your pants up.

  37. #37 eddie
    May 27, 2009

    I think Collins’s record on the HGP ought to count against him both for the reasons Promethius highlighted @31 above, but also because they went on spending after it became clear that the 1 gene = 1 function model was pants.
    I think the entire project was fubar but persisting after you know it was a waste of time…

  38. #38 DisturbingClown
    May 27, 2009

    Is there any evidence that his belief has undermined his scientific work? If not, bellyaching about him is sort of silly.

  39. #39 Blake Stacey
    May 27, 2009

    Is there any evidence that his belief has undermined his scientific work?

    Why would there be? If his career until now has been within his “comfort zone”, then we’d never see his brain fail, even though his mystical tendencies might make him wholly unsuited for work in other areas of science. Let’s hope that during his time at the NIH he never has to make a judgement call about quantum physics, palaeontology, the evolution of altruism or any of the other subjects he’s blabbed idiotic things about.

    Who knows, maybe this gig will keep him too busy to screw anything else up.

  40. #40 DisturbingClown
    May 27, 2009

    @39

    Blake,

    Without specific examples of his faith compromising his science work, this sounds too much like an ideological purity test for me. Should the head of the NIH be required to attest to his atheism to be an acceptable choice?

  41. #41 knathon
    May 27, 2009

    @38
    Can’t you say about the same thing for anyone moving into a new position. Despite his personal crazy beliefs he has demonstrated a good working ability to discern science from his adoration of the supernatural. I don’t think there is any reason he would make a significantly different choice in a “judgement call about quantum physics, palaeontology, the evolution of altruism or any of the other subjects he’s blabbed idiotic things about” than any other scientist. Just because I think my dog is the coolest damn dog on earth despite the evidence doesn’t mean I would make a bad dog show judge.

  42. #42 Prometheus
    May 27, 2009

    “Just because I think my dog is the coolest damn dog on earth despite the evidence doesn’t mean I would make a bad dog show judge.”

    True.

    But what if you had signed off on five entrants without seeing the dogs then berated the owners when the entrants turned out to cats in dog costumes?

    Are you still a good judge?

    Francis pretty much did that in 96 only the cats were adult leukemia.

    ooooooopsie

  43. #43 Zar
    May 27, 2009

    I am worried about humans, because we have a long tradition of assuming greater importance for ourselves than we deserve…

    Because believing humans are not biological beings but soooper magic that the creator of the universe is personally concerned about is very, very humbling.

  44. #44 ERV
    May 27, 2009

    Echoing a comment I left on Coynes blag–
    I really do wonder why anyone thinks Collins is ‘brilliant’. I think you could have replaced him as head of NHGRI with any competent, interested PI, and had the exact same result (at the very least, maybe even better if said person worked with Venter, rather than publicly disparaging Venters innovation).

    Do you all think principle investigators do research all day, while Collins was being ‘administrative’? PIs must all network with local MDs, clinics, and research foundations. Top guns must be masters of international negotiation, convincing other countries to allow us to collect samples for our studies, or working together to build clinics and research facilities in 3rd world nations– The Big Boss at my last Uni was rarely at the Uni– he was in Africa, China, California, New York, being a salesman for our lab… While advising a couple dozen post-docs and graduate students (plus technicians and undergrads).

    All the other NIH directors were just ‘regular’ MDs or PhDs (save Varmus, who is a god, blessed be his name)– why is being the director of NHGRI suddenly ‘brilliant’ experience?

    Speaking of, I can think of over 9,000 PIs within my field I respect as scientists more than Collins. I can think of a handful I would nod and say “He/She would kick ass, if they want the job.” Jaw-dropping innovators, mind-bottling hard workers, people with inspiring life-histories (and a shitload of ‘administrative’ experience). No idea what their religious leanings are. Im sure everyone in other fields could say the same.

    So why Collins for this position? Why, since he stepped down from NHGRI because he was sick of “the demands and responsibilities” of government administrative crap? Why did anyone even suggest him, if not for his Evangelical status? Like Promethius said, thats what is being plugged: Genome, Evangelical. So why cant he be judged for that? Like Gonzalez putting ‘Privileged Planet’ in his tenure packet, then bitching when his committee judge it. You make it part of the package, people are going to address it as they see fit. I think its a part of a bigger problem of Collins averageness being rewarded, while hard working scientists dont get his PR cause they arent Soul Sell-Outs.

    *shrug*

  45. #45 TomJoe
    May 27, 2009

    As I mentioned (as did Orac) over at PZ’s … [sarcasm]obvious Collins is a hack, one only needs to look at his National Academy of Sciences membership. They give those out by the handful donchaknow?[/sarcasm]

  46. #46 ERV
    May 28, 2009

    Peter Duesberg.

  47. #47 TomJoe
    May 28, 2009

    Yah, and? Kary Mullis — yep, that idiot who won the Nobel Prize for PCR — is a AIDS denialist too. It does not however negate their otherwise brilliant work in other areas.

  48. #48 ERV
    May 28, 2009

    You– No one who is a hack gets into NAS! Its totally 1337.

    Me– *says the name of a hack in NAS*

    You– HAHA! You proved my point!

    Me– …

    Collins vs Duesberg vs Venter

  49. #49 TomJoe
    May 28, 2009

    You can do as many comparisons as you wish, it doesn’t change the fact that Collins has had a stellar career which has been recognized by the science community to a degree that most of us can only currently dream about. In other words, he has been judged by his peers, and they don’t agree with you. The same goes for Duesberg. They are definitely not hacks.

  50. #50 Sigmund
    May 28, 2009

    I think we should thank Abbie for illustrating an important lesson to us all regarding the consequences of imposing an ideological purity requirement on government employees. Reading between the lines of the denunciation of Collins’ work and abilities I was reminded of some words from an old novel.
    “Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

  51. #51 Stephen Wells
    May 28, 2009

    And apparently some people think that Abbie expressing her opinion- that Collins is too flaky to be the best pick for next head of NIH- somehow constitutes an Ideological Purity Requirement. That’s kinda moronic.

  52. #52 Tyler DiPietro
    May 28, 2009

    Collins’ goofy beliefs about religion do have the potential to interfere with his judgment if he’s in charge of apportioning science funding. He has, for instance, admitted to being opposed to stem cell research that destroys human embryos, a position with no discernible non-supernatural justification.

    Regardless, he seems like a shoe-in for the position. His administrative record seems solid, if not as utterly astounding as some of his supporters would like to claim. But what this all really comes down to is his profile as an ecumenical figure in the world of science and religion. He’s a political pick by our compulsively political president.

  53. #53 386sx
    May 28, 2009

    Francis Collins should be president of the universe!!

  54. #54 Sigmund
    May 28, 2009

    Tyler, I think most of the disagreements with Abbie on this one are not exactly positive endorsements of Collins as the best candidate for the post but rather support for the US constitutional position of not requiring a religious test for government officials. Some of us consider this to be of utmost importance since the same exact provision protects (or at least should protect) the non religious from unfair exclusion. That said I think a skeptical approach to the matter is important. Yes, Collins religious views have the potential to skew research away from religiously contentious matters. However do we have any evidence that his religious beliefs have in the past caused him to alter research in this way?
    If there was any evidence that his nutty beliefs cause him to advocate nutty science then that would certainly be a mark against him. Is there any evidence of this in all the years he’s spent running the human genome project? I haven’t seen it.
    If not then are we not making a judgement on his unsuitability based on pure faith?
    We do not see (the evidence) yet we believe (…that he will act like Michael Egnor once he begins the job!)
    I do agree, however, with Jerry Coyne’s suggestion that Collins role as head of the Biologos foundation is incompatible with him being the director of the NIH and that he should resign from Biologos (Biolegos? thats given me an idea for a new blog post!) if he gets the NIH job.
    By the way, whether he gets the job or not I still feel his religious beliefs are fair game for satire as I’ve done in the past.
    http://sneerreview.blogspot.com/2008/12/francis-collins-suffers-crisis-of-faith.html

  55. #55 ERV
    May 28, 2009

    Sigmund–
    Reading between the lines of the denunciation of Collins’ work and abilities I was reminded of some words from an old novel.
    Too bad you werent reminded of examples of Collins ‘brilliance’ I keep hearing about. Alas…

    Hey, whats Collins doing these days? Biologos, eh? Whats Venter doing? Oh, just creating artificial life, no, yeah I totally see Collins innovation and ‘brilliance’.

  56. #56 Orac
    May 28, 2009

    I think we should thank Abbie for illustrating an important lesson to us all regarding the consequences of imposing an ideological purity requirement on government employees.

    Indeed. The criticisms that I see Abbie leveling are far more ideological than science- or qualification-based. I’m guessing that she wouldn’t even know or care about the perceived shortcomings she’s been attributing to Collins if it weren’t for his religious views. Above all, Abbie detests Collins’ religious views, but she also knows that she can’t justify opposing Collins based on his religious views alone; so she tries to find other deficiencies, real or exaggerated.

    As for Venter, I’ve seen him give talks, and I’ve read a fair amount of his stuff. He certainly has done some brilliant things, but a lot of his work strikes me as one massive fishing expedition rather than hypothesis-driven science. Not that fishing expeditions aren’t useful as hypothesis-generating tools, but he has a maddening propensity not to go beyond that more often than I’d like to see. Either way, I can’t see him in charge of the NIH; he’d lose interest really fast.

    One mustn’t forget that the NIH is a political and administrative position. It requires a manager with some vision but also with the managerial chops to bend the bureacracy to his or her will. Truly brilliant scientists often don’t want the job because of all the bureaucratic and political baggage that goes with it or would be likely to mess it up because they don’t have the skill set to deal with it. They’re much better at actually doing science, rather than managing a massive organization of scientists and bureaucrats.

  57. #57 Orac
    May 28, 2009

    Ack. I obviously messed up the “blockquote” tags. Sorry.

  58. #58 SLC
    May 28, 2009

    As I have stated on several other blogs, Ms. ERVs’ hero, Dr. Harold Varmus is the co-chairman of President Obamas’ science advisory committee and is the former NIH Director. The tenures of Dr. Varmus and Dr. Collins overlapped at the NIH; in fact, the former was effectively the latters’ boss. I have to believe, given these facts, that Dr. Varmus was consulted about this rumored appointment and apparently raised no objections. For all we know, he may have suggested Dr. Collins to the president.

  59. #59 ERV
    May 28, 2009

    Orac also appears to like speaking about a blogger in third person on their own blag LOL!

    If Orac would read my comments instead of hastily posting misformatted posts, he would know that I genuinely dont like Collins for a variety of reasons, and the icing on the cake is his fruit-cake religion, which is being emphasized in the media as a plus.

    Oh but bitching about Collins fruit-cake religion, thats ‘ideological’.

    But here is a point where I agree with Orac:
    They’re much better at actually doing science, rather than managing a massive organization of scientists and bureaucrats.
    How Orac thinks Average Jane/Joe PIs dont deal with bureaucracy, I may never know. But I completely agree with this statement. I dont think Collins ‘leaving’ science for bureaucracy will be a direct loss to the scientific community at all. I doubt we would notice.

  60. #60 ERV
    May 28, 2009

    SLC–
    Yes, and as Ive said, Collins isnt worthy of sucking Varmuss left nut.

    If Varmus supports Collins, I will totally back off. Thats because Varmus has my ‘respect’ and ‘trust’, two things Collins lacks (two out of many things).

    Then I will happily ignore the existence of Collins, until he fucks up.

    YAY!

  61. #61 SLC
    May 28, 2009

    Re ERV

    Would not Ms. ERV concede that perhaps Dr. Varmus has a better slant on Dr. Collins’ scientific competence and capabilities, since the latter worked for the former, then does she or Prof. Coyne or Prof. PZed. I don’t think we should hold the endorsement of fucktard Prof. Nisbet against Dr. Collins.

  62. #62 Raging Bee
    May 28, 2009

    We have these remarkable features such as the understanding of what’s right and wrong, which I don’t think is something that will come out in the study of biology. Nor is it something that I think evolution can explain.

    So I am a person of faith, as you might be able to tell from that last remark…

    I’m a person of faith too (Pagan/Druid/Asatru/Hellenist/Taoist/eclectic), but that’s horsemuffins. Any social animal smarter than a bee will — pretty much by definition — have an “understanding of right and wrong” hardwired into its brain: what’s good for its fellows, and its own young, is “right” and will be pursued, and what’s bad for them is “wrong” and will be avoided, with gut-level instinctual determination; just as we humans protect our kids from threats real and imagined. Animals (higher ones at least) have morality too, whether or not they can write it into “holy books.”

    The most charitable thing I can say for Collins, is that he may be trying to signal that faith and evolution are compatible. Which is the right message to send; but I’m not sure Collins is doing it as well as he should.

  63. #63 Mu
    May 28, 2009

    ERV, you first describe the guy as a religious nutcase, then you are willing to accept an endorsement of someone you trust? Either he can’t be trusted due to his religious views, or you’re a pretentious grad student writing bs on the appointment of a respected scientist with credentials way beyond your reach. And I think you’ve admitted which one is more likely.

  64. #64 Paul
    May 28, 2009

    However do we have any evidence that his religious beliefs have in the past caused him to alter research in this way?
    If there was any evidence that his nutty beliefs cause him to advocate nutty science then that would certainly be a mark against him. Is there any evidence of this in all the years he’s spent running the human genome project? I haven’t seen it.
    If not then are we not making a judgement on his unsuitability based on pure faith?

    No, we’re basing it on his stated opinions. He’s against stem cell testing that destroys embryos for purely ideological reasons. He believes it’s impossible for altruism to “evolve”. He believes there’s some supernatural bearded old man guiding evolution. None of this was directly relevant to his tenure on the Human Genome Project. It becomes a whole hell of a lot more relevant if he’s head of the freakin NIH. Why is this so hard to understand? It’s not as simple as “it hasn’t affected his work before, there’s no reason to assume it will now”. It’s different work, with expanded responsibilities and more situations to affect science funding.

  65. #65 Prometheus
    May 28, 2009

    “….support for the US constitutional position of not requiring a religious test for government officials. Some of us consider this to be of utmost importance since the same exact provision protects (or at least should protect) the non religious from unfair exclusion.”

    Calling B.S. in that when the basis of the appointment is an appeasement/endorsement of a religious bent is a backdoor subversion of the constitutional principle reflected in the establishment clause you hold so near and dear.

    Look, I am not, as I have been roundly accused of, a newbie atheist of the f*ck you Dad variety.

    I am not a twenty something graduate student unfamiliar with the devil and all his works who “Just doesn’t get that you need to pick your battles.” I know the devil, I was a registered lobbyist for the f*cking banking industry. I was middle management for Mammon and I play poker with a mackerel slapper who is going to be a cardinal in the next two years.

    I have been personally responsible for the election of a lot of retards. Well meaning retards but really really dim bulbs. I did that. I did it for money. I’m a whore.

    I know Collins is a personable guy who is well liked by the people he works with. I’ve been a whore too, remember? I know this because I have been watching his “career path” for fourteen years.

    I was watching CNN in 1995 when he told the senate in hearings about the genome project in such an obscenely enthusiastic way that the southern senators spent Christmas waiting for delivery of their cancer curing chocolate flavored Elixir Vitae.

    The same year, I watched that luddite atavistic ignorant bastard Rifkin hand him his ass and compare the entire scientific community of this country to Frankenstein while he twiddled his thumbs and whined on NPR about healing the rift between Christianity and science with love and butterfly kisses(he didn’t mention cancer curing chocolate flavored Elixir Vitae… but any day now….we are trying to make it low-cal).

    A year later a paper from the beloved NHGRI lands on a reviewer’s desk. Not a publisher, not an editor but a reviewer of an already published paper with Francis Collins’ rubber stamp on it. The paper deals with chromosome 16 and acute adult leukemia and it is a fraud (they even doctored the bloody illustrations). Normally the response would be to excoriate Collins but because the “project is so important” they bounce it back to Collins who discovers his ‘associate’ has faked around five papers he stamped and he withdraws them, puts on his hair shirt and goes pouty for the press.

    “Poor poor youngster, forgive the child, we are under a lot of pressure mea culpa mea culpa mea maxima culpa”

    *makes puppy eyes*

    Back the f*ck up Francis.

    Every one was patting him on the back and saying “I can’t believe that kid did that to you.” but wait, Frankie C signed off! He took a full on author credit on papers of which he had only read the synopses AND which synopses he recited into the senatorial record to justify his budget the year before.

    Whaaaaa?

    This is the kind of crap that went on before Celera announced “Just stand back let us do it”

    At which point the shit got real.

    That’s when we got premature Mission Accomplished!, under budget and ahead of schedule fake out press releases coordinated to mesh with the publication of Collin’s absurd book score a Clinton photo op and keep up with Venter’s rock and roll science cowboy schedule.

    And still I could deal with it. And still I could deal with the pick on the basis of “He was the face of the human genome project”

    If he was a devout pentecostal holiness with the largest rattlesnake farm in the Midwest, so be it.

    One more time for the cheap seats.

    Francis Collins’ appointment is a public apology to the religious community by the President of the United States because Science has been hurting their feelings.

    That is an obscenity.

    It is moral and intellectual bankruptcy.

    It is a grotesque and unforgivable betrayal sans reach around.

    Do you get it yet? Can we be done now?

  66. #66 Alex
    May 28, 2009

    Well said, Prometheus.

    Collins becoming head of the NIH is a problem because he’s not just a religious scientist, he’s a public religious apologist in the pocket of the Templeton Foundation. Putting someone who harps on about the often non-existent “harmony of science and faith” as head of the NIH is as much an ideological purity test as having to have a ‘new atheist’.

    This is another example of religious scientists getting extra credit for believing in nonsense or injecting pseudo-science into their popular books. Francis Collins, Ken Miller and Simon Conway-Morris, for example, are never in short demand in the press to add a veneer of scientific respectability to religious non-sense. A Templeton prize is a lot of money. Do we need the US government handing out positions of power to these people, too? Do we want religious apologists, even if they’re also scientists, controlling funding and ethics on future biotechnology and medicine?

  67. #67 Sigmund
    May 28, 2009

    “Hey, whats Collins doing these days? Biologos, eh? Whats Venter doing? Oh, just creating artificial life, no, yeah I totally see Collins innovation and ‘brilliance’.”
    !
    Give me a V, give me an E, give me an N, give me a T…..’
    What the hell is up with the cheerleading for Venter?
    Abbie did you have the slightest experience of using the Celera database that Venter put together at the same time as the public genome project was being completed?
    It was an absolute mess. And not only that but Venter charged a huge amount of money to access this mess with the result that Celeras draft genome was practically ignored by all serious scientists – and Venter being dismissed.
    Anyone who uses Celera as an example of success or something that anyone in research should emulate is quite frankly talking out of their Dembski.
    Whatever about Collins qualifications for the job Venter is definitely the wrong person for the post.

  68. #68 Sigmund
    May 28, 2009

    “If Varmus supports Collins, I will totally back off. Thats because Varmus has my ‘respect’ and ‘trust’, two things Collins lacks (two out of many things).”
    What the fuck?
    The argument from authority?
    If Collins is as bad as you say then what difference does it make who says he’s good enough for the job.

  69. #69 ricky
    May 28, 2009

    He is an excellent scientists I think.
    http://www.joomlatime.net

  70. #70 SLC
    May 28, 2009

    Re Sigmund

    In fairness to Ms. ERV, as I have stated, Dr. Varmus is in the best position to evaluate Dr. Collins. After all, during their joint tenure at the NIH, he signed off on Dr. Collins performance evaluations.

  71. #71 XD
    May 28, 2009

    Collins: Right. Now does that apply to human beings? No, I happen to think human beings fall in a different category. I think we, of all the organisms on the planet, have a spiritual nature which can’t be explained by those common elements and “instruction books” and references to machine analogies. We have these remarkable features such as the understanding of what’s right and wrong, which I don’t think is something that will come out in the study of biology. Nor is it something that I think evolution can explain.

    Weapon’s grade stupid. And this guy is going to be head of the NIH? WTF, America. W.T.F.

  72. #72 Prometheus
    May 28, 2009

    Ummmm endorsements don’t mean jack if the alternative is royally piss off the White House.

    Keep in mind that it wouldn’t merely be a career ender for Varmus but his whole professional intellectual family would get sucked into the hole by association.

    Now who is being politically naive?

  73. #73 TomJoe
    May 28, 2009

    Prometheus @71 … what are you on about?

    Obama: Varmus, do you think Collins would make a good NIH director?

    Varmus: Probably not.

    Obama: Damn you and your intellectual offspring to the depths of obscurity!

    Yah, that seems highly unlikely.

  74. #74 darmowe ebooki
    May 28, 2009

    Interesting! Please type this for another topic. Regards to the author

  75. #75 Prometheus
    May 28, 2009

    More like this

    Press secretary: “We are going to need a public endorsement of Collins from you.”

    Varmus: “I don’t feel comfortable doing that.”

    Press secretary: “Then we don’t feel comfortable with you continuing to co-chair the C.A.S.T..”

    Varmus: “Oh.”

    Press secretary: “Yea.”

    Varmus: “What do I need to say?”

    Press secretary: “We’re faxing it now.”

    *click*

    Made a lot of calls like that. Received some too. Way of the world. Sigh.

  76. #76 TomJoe
    May 28, 2009

    So you think that Varmus, as co-chair of Obama’s President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, was only involved on the back end of this deal? I don’t buy that at all.

  77. #77 Prometheus
    May 28, 2009

    I think he is getting steam rolled on this one from start to finish like everyone else and he will put up with it for the sake of what he can achieve as co-chair.

    Americans don’t care about a nobel prize winner. Francis loves Jesus, Francis drives a Harley and Francis was on the cover of GQ.

    We’re screwed.

  78. #78 TomJoe
    May 28, 2009

    Well, we will have to agree to disagree because I cannot see any conceivable way that Varmus wasn’t in on this from the very beginning.

  79. #79 SLC
    May 28, 2009

    Francis drives a Harley

    And Prof. Varmus rides a $6000. Spectrum bicycle.

  80. #80 Dan L.
    May 28, 2009

    I think we, of all the organisms on the planet, have a spiritual nature which can’t be explained by those common elements and “instruction books” and references to machine analogies. We have these remarkable features such as the understanding of what’s right and wrong, which I don’t think is something that will come out in the study of biology. Nor is it something that I think evolution can explain.

    This worries me a little. He has a faith-based belief that humans have a “spiritual nature” apart from their physical bodies. As director of NIH, would he actually have an effect on whether certain neurological studies are funded? After all, evidence for the neurological basis of religious belief, moral judgment, etc. would seem to undermine something that Collins apparently holds as a religious belief.

  81. #81 Prometheus
    May 28, 2009

    I’m tired.

    I will oppose this as best I can.

    You guys just sit back listen to some tunes while you hope for the best.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2ahI_nVG4s

    I’ll run with the original Mr. Showbiz.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3f72CTDe4-0

  82. #82 Tyler DiPietro
    May 28, 2009

    “Either he can’t be trusted due to his religious views, or you’re a pretentious grad student writing bs on the appointment of a respected scientist with credentials way beyond your reach.”

    Indignation and condescension aside, this is also a false dichotomy. Some people are willing to accept the possibility of being wrong, and the possibility that some people may have better judgment than they do even if their respective opinions. In short, try not to think in such starkly black and white terms. Also, try not to get so butthurt when someone you admire is attacked.

  83. #83 Dr Benway
    May 28, 2009

    Varmus is cool. I kiss his poster each nite b4 bed.

    But I gotta let you know: even the good ones let you down.

    Here’s Varmus’ sidekick from the old days, Michael Bishop, selling UCSF to the “integrative medicine” gang.

    Sure, woo can seem like fun and games when it’s all crystals and vitamins and massage. But then the crazy goes too far and your kids get castrated.

  84. #84 Tyler DiPietro
    May 28, 2009

    “…and the possibility that some people may have better judgment than they do even if their respective opinions differ.”

    Fixed.

  85. #85 Monado
    May 28, 2009

    There’s no religious test for the job. So he can believe that angels are pushing the genes around as long as it doesn’t hinder actual science. But what if something starts troubling him, like brain research on the location of god-experience in the temporal lobes? Then we have to hope that he’s ethical enough to sit on his hands and let the dice fall where they may.

    OTOH, there might be someone more qualified that does not mumble the shibboleths of the religious right.

  86. #86 William Wallace
    May 29, 2009

    A year later a paper from the beloved NHGRI lands on a reviewer’s desk

    The purpose of peer review is not to detect fraud.

  87. #87 Jason
    May 29, 2009

    Prometheus,

    You think Obama, who appointed Steven Chu as secretary of Engery, and Lander and Varmus as co-advisors for Science and Technology, would suddenly steamroll against the opinion of scientists he’s appointed.

    They won’t threaten to remove him as an advisor, either; dude has a nobel prize, won the national medal of science, and is president of memorial sloan kettering cancer center. Certainly it’s an honor to work with Obama but his career wouldn’t come to a crashing halt if he were not a co-advisor.

  88. #88 LanceR, JSG
    May 29, 2009

    Okay, this should be good.

    Come, O Great Limp Willy, enlighten us! What, in your world, *is* the purpose of peer review?

  89. #89 Prometheus
    May 29, 2009

    Jason,

    You may be right I am probably having flashbacks to when Tom Ridge was running around the white house looking for the science advisor to Bush II during the anthrax scare.

    They had to explain to him he was standing in it. It had been relocated but they were not sure where and it wouldn’t do any good anyway. The science advisor was an ancient optical physicist who probably thought Anthrax was a Kansas City burlesque queen.

    or

    Maybe I would rather believe Varmus and Chu were getting steamrolled than that they actually condoned an apologetic appointment.

    … then I would start barfing.

  90. #90 Dr Benway
    May 29, 2009

    Hmm. Thought I posted a comment here. Maybe the spam filter ate it. Probably wasn’t much anyway.

    Prometheus, I want to be just like you when I grow up.

  91. #91 Jason
    May 29, 2009

    Disclaimers:
    1) I’m a gay atheist (so that much closer to the anti-christ, according to a recent PZ post)
    2) I am a third year graduate student in biology and I work on drug resistance via whole genome re-sequencing. I do work in both a wetlab and a drylab.
    3) I’m an avid reader of ERV and Pharyngula; they are my daily stops to distract me from lab work and coding

    response:
    Holy crap.

    What alternate universe did I enter in to this week?

    1a) The threads at ERV and Pharyngula are blasting a scientist whose actual peer reviewed science is pretty significant; and not just science he’s affiliated with.
    1b) They’re doing so because he’s a Christ apologist (ok, so this does not induce a sense of being in an alternate reality). He’s not like Behe, I mean, the man at least acknowledges evolution.

    And very few people are even addressing his published science… come on now.

    People, read some of his work. He’s a brilliant dude and has done some really pivotal work in the field. He did a good job leading the NHGRI.

    It bugs me that he has these superstitious beliefs, but he’s not so off-the-wall that he’s denying evolution. If this is the worst person atheist scientists have to deal with, it’s NOT that bad!

    2) Wallace says something that is totally true; Peer Review is not in place as a filter to detect fraud. Scientific Misconduct that passes this level is usually detected when other groups attempt to recapitulate the experiment and are unable to do so, or some other mechanisms. peer reviewers assess experimental design, quality of data presented as well as analysis… they are not lie detectors.

    I agree with Wallace and disagree with the posts on ERV and Pharyngula? Black is white? Up is down?
    wtf!?

  92. #92 Prometheus
    May 29, 2009

    Okay point taken Jason

    But lets say Louis Pasteur walks up to you and is not drunk when he says this:

    “When I was 27, I saw a magic waterfall that explained the holy trinity and later allowed me to read a special secret magic language hidden in the human genome which is Jesus’ way of talking to the people he loves.

    You see, zygotes have immortal souls only when sperm is involved, not when you use nuclear transfer from a somatic cell hence every human sperm contains an immortal soul.

    I don’t know what clone zygotes grow into, evil monster babies or Christopher Hitchens maybe, but anyway they don’t count.

    Evolution is just God’s little tool kit for tinkering together humans. He’s done now. He doesn’t use that tool kit anymore. Now that he has put us together and we look like him, he can move us around with telekinesis.

    If he wasn’t moving me around I would no choice but to rob, rape, murder and eat you. I want very much to rob, rape, murder and eat you but God’s telekinetic power is preventing it.

    Also there is something instead of nothing and math is series of celestial Burma Shave signs with Jehovah as the punch line.

    I’ve written a little song about this. I’ll tune up my guitar and sing it for you. The tune should be familiar, it’s the Ramones’ “I want to be sedated.”

    P.S. If you don’t like my song and find it incredibly charming you are arrogant, unjust, taking me out of context and you are close minded.

    P.P S. I will also call you an irrational bitter dogmatist in Time Magazine and laugh at you burning in hell from my cloud when you die.”

    Is the appropriate response to make Louis director of NIH or to get Louis some Motherf*ckin help asap?

  93. #93 Paul
    May 29, 2009

    It bugs me that he has these superstitious beliefs, but he’s not so off-the-wall that he’s denying evolution. If this is the worst person atheist scientists have to deal with, it’s NOT that bad!

    Um, bad example. He doesn’t deny evolution, but he thinks god’s magical hand was there guiding the process the whole way, as well as picking an arbitrary primate with which to ensoul and imbue with a magical “Moral Law” that could not have possibly evolved any other way (which ignores developments in several fields of science, the most obvious being animal behavior. They do have a sense of right and wrong).

  94. #94 Prometheus
    May 29, 2009

    Hey I just reread my post, somebody call Guinness Book! What do I win for building the worlds biggest straw man.

    *types without coffee*

    *drops marbles*

    Sorry guys.

  95. #95 Dr Benway
    May 29, 2009

    Jason, it’s NCCAM I worry about most. NCCAM is science+. I want it to go away ASAP as it legitimizes quackery that hurts the kids under my care.

    This is the year for the universal health care bill. The vitaministas are throwing everything they’ve got into “integrative medicine,” which is the combination of western and eastern medicine, or mainstream and alternative medicine, or the merging of body, mind, and spirit. I think. Anyway, whatever it is, I’m sure Templeton would have loved it.

    Right now anyone on the side of science+ makes me nervous. I want science-period not science-plus.

    Will Collins have the balls to halt the vitalism epidemic within academic medicine, when he himself is a vitalist?

  96. #96 Dr Benway
    May 29, 2009

    Oh one more thing I want to say to my science pals:

    Imagine if the creationists won the textbook wars 20 years ago and ID was now an accepted minority position in biology, with its own endowed chairs at major universities, its own journals, and its own strange, unreliable experimental methods. Imagine an NSF division set up specifically to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars each year into crank research programs turning out very little research but lots of slick NOVA episodes and other sciency materials demonstrating the hand of the creator at the molecular level and within coincidental events.

    The above is academic medicine right now. Go to sciencebasedmedicine.org. Read Kimball Atwood’s series about Harvard, “Veritas for sale,” for a taste.

    Maybe Collins won’t promote the integration of science and religion. But will he clean house? Will he shut down NCCAM?

    Lysenkoism can happen to you guys, too.

  97. #97 Shirakawasuna
    May 29, 2009

    lulz @ WW thinking fraud detection isn’t part of peer review. What, you don’t think peer reviewers check the basic facts of the paper to see if they make sense? Are you completely unaware of the peer-review catches made and publicized, some of them a hallmark of your creationist nonsense (some fossils, hint hint)?

    Yes and yes!

    In all honesty, it looks to me like Collins gets his science and theology confused. While he was surely a competent administrator in the Human Genome Project and is surely very good with certain aspects of operational science, I’m not sure you’d ever want someone with such fuzzy ideas being in charge of such a large and important organization with power over the direction taken by multiple projects. Like others keep saying, there’s so many better picks yet we go for the guy who sees Jesus in waterfalls and publishes (scientific!) idiocy like BioLogos? There’s an area where his science and theology overlap and it’s way too large and indicative of irrationality.

  98. #98 TomJoe
    May 29, 2009

    @95: lulz @ WW thinking fraud detection isn’t part of peer review. What, you don’t think peer reviewers check the basic facts of the paper to see if they make sense?

    Yes, because we all know fraudsters will typically not have their results make sense. *rolleyes* What an idiotic thing to say … and you’re laughing at WW?

    Only the most glaring of fraud will be revealed during the peer review process, and I imagine this is the exception to the rule. I know when I review papers I’m taking it in good faith that the authors of the manuscript have done things honorably and not fraudulently.

  99. #99 William Wallace
    May 30, 2009

    Thanks TomJoe.

    For LanceR and Shirakawasuna, see also Wikipedia for information on peer review:

    Peer review, in scientific journals, assumes that the article reviewed has been honestly written, and the process is not designed to detect fraud. The reviewers usually do not have full access to the data from which the paper has been written and some elements have to be taken on trust. It is not usually practical for the reviewer to reproduce the author’s work. Publication of incorrect results does not in itself indicate a peer review failure.

  100. #100 ERV
    May 30, 2009

    100 comment summary:

    1. Making fun of the nutbar ‘scientific’ religious beliefs of Michael Engor even if there is no evidence his nutty beliefs interfered with his job, is fine. Making fun of the nutbar ‘scientific’ religious beliefs of Francis Collins even if there is no evidence his nutty beliefs interfered with his job, is ideological.

    2. Making fun of the nutbar ‘scientific’ religious beliefs of Michael Engor in EXPELLED is funny. Making fun of the nutbar ‘scientific’ religious beliefs of Francis Collins in Religulous is ideological.

    3. Making fun of the nutbar ‘scientific’ religious beliefs of Michael Engor, a nobody twat on the internet with no academic, political, or financial power is fine. Making fun of the nutbar ‘scientific’ religious beliefs of Francis Collins, who could be put in a position with significant academic, political, and financial power is ideological.

    4. Just plain not liking Francis Collins and thinking there are many people more qualified for such a highly respected position is ideological.

    *wipes hands*

    Fantastic!