Proven: Michael Behe is a Moron

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Michael Behe made a guest appearance in Beaver County the other day to engage in a debate on intelligent Design vs. Real Science. He got interviewed by a local reporter, who posed questions to both Behe and his antagonist. Here I provide a few excerpts for your amusement.

First, you may be wondering where Beaver County is. The Beaver County Times Online, like most local newspaper, does not mention where it is. Do you know how much time we bloggers have to spend figuring out where these dumbass local stories come from? You have to use odd clues and make guesses. For instance, the Times Online shows us that it is 7 degrees outside right now (8 PM on Sunday), s it is not in Texas, and they seem to be affiliated with the Allegheny Times, which might be from Allegheny County. Luckily, I’m from the Allegheny region, so I’m guessing this is somewhere in southern New York or northern Pennsylvania. But it could be in East Podunk for all I know. … But I digress. Here’s Behe making an ass of himself:

The Times: Define “intelligent design.”

Behe: Intelligent design is just the idea that there are some things in nature that are better explained by deliberate intelligent design rather than simple laws and accidents.

A good example is Mount Rushmore.

OK, next time I’m looking at a cell in a microscope and I see Teddy Roosevelt staring back at me, I’ll start preying to the Invisible Man.

The Times: Explain the existence of man

Behe:
Of the many, many stars and galaxies that science knows of, none seems to have intelligent life except for one planet in our solar system, Earth. The beginning of life continues to be a vexatious scientific problem. The origin of humankind and culture is also a huge scientific problem. There are reasons to think that the explanation for those events lies outside, or partially outside, of science.

So, I was wondering where M.B. has been lately. I guess he’s been scouring the universe for intelligent life.

By the way, as you probably know, Behe clearly believes in the great age of the universe and stuff. He’s not a Young Earth Creationist. So, why don’t Bible-humping fundamentalists hate him?

The Times:
What scientific proof can be offered to support or refute intelligent design?

Behe: I’m a biochemist. Biochemists study the molecular basics of life. I think the strongest evidence for intelligent design lies in biochemistry.

Charles Darwin and other scientists of his day thought that the cell was a little piece of jelly; protoplasm is what they called it. But now we know, through the efforts of science, that the cell is an ultra-sophisticated nanotech-driven factory filled to the brim with complex and elegant molecular machinery. The sophistication of such foundation of life is the strongest evidence for intelligent design.

Well, gee, if they thought it was jelly, why didn’t they call it jelly? Oh, and the cell is not nanotechnology. It is organic life. Nanotechnology is something different. Cells don’t have brims.


The Times:
What are the most important challenges to the theory of evolution?

Behe: The most important challenge to the Darwin theory of evolution is the complexity of life. In Darwin’s day, scientists thought that all foundations of life would be simple.

Funny. I can’t think if a single place where scientists in Darwin’s day, or ever, proclaimed: “Well, we don’t understand it yet, but it’s going to be real simple, by jove.”

The Times: At what age or grade level should students be introduced to these topics?

Behe:
I think whenever they start to learn about biology topics, they can learn about how plants and animals arose. So, if it’s in the sixth grade that students learn biology, they could also learn that there are different ideas on how life arose and changed on the Earth.

Behe has been known to say that he does not care what effect creationist politics has in the public school classroom, because his kids don’t go to public schools.

And finally:

The Times: How would you respond to the following quote?

Intelligent design is “essentially a religious proposition. I understand it to be a reformulation of an old theological argument for the existence of God.” — John F. Haught, a Georgetown University theology professor testifying in 2005 at a trial over whether the theory of intelligent design belongs in a public school science curriculum as an alternative to evolution.

Behe:

… you know, I don’t really care much about what Behe thinks of this. … Oh, you want to know? OK, but keep in mind that this is the guy who, for a long time, insisted that the “Intelligent Designer” was not necessarily god (wink wink). So he says:

There’s no reason why intelligent design should not have such implications. If science can bring evidence that seems to point against there being a God, then science can bring forth evidence that there is a God.

[Source]

Comments

  1. #1 PalMD
    February 10, 2008

    First rate journalism.

    If he was interviewing the Unabomber and Salman Rushdie, he’d probably give equal time to two “different approaches to literature and academics”.

  2. #2 JanieBelle
    February 10, 2008

    The Times: How would you respond to the following quote?

    Intelligent design is “essentially a religious proposition. I understand it to be a reformulation of an old theological argument for the existence of God.” — John F. Haught, a Georgetown University theology professor testifying in 2005 at a trial over whether the theory of intelligent design belongs in a public school science curriculum as an alternative to evolution.

    Funny that. Seems like I recall Behe already having an opportunity to respond to that. That same year, in fact. In court. Under oath.

    In fact, come to think of it, Haught testified on day five of the same trial as Behe. Haught testified around day five, Behe day eleven.

    Fancy that!

    Now what was the name of that trial… Kitz.. Kitzasomething… it was in Pennsyltucky somewhere… something about a Waterloo…

    **wanders off muttering***

  3. #3 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    February 10, 2008

    I just think it is especially absurd to consider the fine-tuning argument that this planet is the only one with intelligent life out of all the planets in the universe. How do they think we can possibly buy this when we know that SETI has just gotten started?

    Do they expect that we should have seen something blinking in morse code by now; something saying “Yep, we are intelligent and Jesus has been here, too?”

    How can anybody take that argument and anything that starts with such a silly premise as anything but the rantings of a madman? (Or a propagandist.)

  4. #4 Colst
    February 10, 2008

    “The Beaver County Times Online, like most local newspaper, does not mention where it is. Do you know how much time we bloggers have to spend figuring out where these dumbass local stories come from?”

    “contact us” is generally a good place to start:

    “The Times is published by Beaver Newspapers, Inc., 400 Fair Avenue, Beaver, PA 15009″

  5. #5 Scott Belyea
    February 10, 2008

    pseudo-scientific douche-bags

    Well, I continue to be puzzled why so many rational, well-educated, knowledgeable, liberal bloggers are still using references to female genitals and hygiene as the worst insults they can come up with.

    Why?

  6. #6 JanieBelle
    February 10, 2008

    Scott,

    It’s not so much that rational, well-educated, knowledgeable, liberal bloggers consider those things insulting, it’s more that insane, uneducated, ignorant, unenlightened bloggers are so sexually frustrated and homophobic that they do.

    Sometimes you have to speak their language for them to understand you’re insulting them.

    HTH

  7. #7 JanieBelle
    February 10, 2008

    P.S. Plus, they’re douche-bags.

  8. #8 Dave McConnell
    February 10, 2008

    Behe: Intelligent design is just the idea that there are some things in nature that are better explained by deliberate intelligent design rather than simple laws and accidents.

    A good example is Mount Rushmore.

    Mount Rushmore is a natural thing?

  9. #9 Billy Taylor
    February 10, 2008

    Their contact information is appropriately on the ‘About Us’ page: Beaver County Times, 400 Fair Ave. Beaver, PA 15009. Which is about 30 miles NW of Pittsburgh.

  10. #10 yogi-one
    February 10, 2008

    Wait!! Don’t touch that microscope! I just saw the face of the Virgin in that there protoplasm!

    By the way, Greg, you missed a proof-read spot that kind of needs editing. I think you meant to write “Bible-thumping fundamentalists. What is actually there is “Bible-humping fundamentalists.

    Me thinks you might still want to edit your post again….I’m just saying, you know?

  11. #11 Stephanie Z
    February 10, 2008

    Let’s see, Scott. Transparent; full of stuff that’s at best useless, at worst harmful; and sold in coded language as the cure for a problem that doesn’t exist? Works for me.

  12. #12 Eamon Knight
    February 10, 2008

    He’s not a Young Earth Creationist. So, why don’t Bible-humping fundamentalists hate him?

    Because these morons believe in the principle of “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. It’s related to the psychology by which they hail every occasion on which science changes its collective mind about something as proof that the whole edifice is crumbling, leaving the way open for True Biblical Science(tm).

    I did once see a YEC newsletter calling Behe a “Half-baked Creationist”.

  13. #13 Tlazolteotl
    February 11, 2008

    Posted by: Stephanie Z | February 10, 2008 11:09 PM

    Ding ding ding ding! We have a winner!

  14. #14 L.H.
    February 11, 2008

    Stephanie Z,

    That’s hilarious.

    As for Behe, I wish people would just stop giving him press so that he will be forced to actually go back into the lab and try to do substantiate his “douche-bag” ideas with some real science.

    LH

  15. #15 keiths
    February 11, 2008

    Factoid: Beaver County is where Joe Namath grew up.

  16. #16 Flaky
    February 11, 2008

    Of the many, many stars and galaxies that science knows of, none seems to have intelligent life except for one planet in our solar system, Earth.
    I wonder what basis does Dr. Behe have for saying that? What does he think that a galaxy with intelligent life should look like? I’m quite sure that our existence on this planet does not make the Milky Way appear special in any way to potential Andromedan astronomers. As to any EM transmissions within our own galaxy, to conserve power, any such transmission not specifically intended for alien ears would be highly encoded by any civilization matching or exceeding our level of technology, thus appearing no different from background noise to any eavesdropper unaware of the coding scheme, if by chance they were to fall in the beam of the transmission.

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    February 11, 2008

    Colst: It is amazing now “contact us” is so often NOT a good place to start. I didn’t even look in this case because I didn’t care.

    Usually, at least often, I want to know a lot more than what state something is in. So, if there is a contact us, and if it does have a mailing address, I am still sent to zip code lookup.

    Hey, my guess was dead on, though, wasn’t it? Thanks for the advice, though, very thoughtful.

    Scott: Why are you always bitching at me?

    Janie: Bite me. You are so absolutely correct!!!

    yogi-one: Owing to a number of factors (like, I can see words but not letters) I do let a lot of mistakes through, but THAT was not one of them!

    keiths: Aha! That’s exactly the kind of thing you want to know, and you can’t get it without context! You see, my point about small town (and big town) newspapers not saying where they are is exactly about this. We have an undeveloped or atrophying sense of geography and place in the US. In fact, there is a pretty good chance that the people in charge of the web site contents at he newspapers and TV stations don’t know where they are and would have to look it up. A “local” newspaper or TV station is “local” to somewhere. You would think that would be important.

    I had not noticed this phenomenon until I started writing a blog and incorporating local news where I could get it. And it is astounding.

    Flaky: Exactly. It was th is very quote that inspired me to write this post to begin with. But there was so much more, I had to include taht as well.

  18. #18 JanieBelle
    February 11, 2008

    oops, misfire.

    Greg,

    I should have been more clear. The “they” to which I was referring was the pseudo-scientific douche-bags, not the people calling them douche-bags.

    You’ll note that I’m the proud owner of the very first post aggregated by the BPSDB service.

    I so suck at multi-tasking…

    Apologies for the confusion.

  19. #19 Greg Laden
    February 11, 2008

    Ooops.

    Headline: “Blogger taken down by friendly fire…”

    (fixed)

  20. #20 JanieBelle
    February 11, 2008

    :)

    My fault entirely. The headline might better read “Distracted Blogger Steps in front of Firing Squad, Yells ‘Fire'”

  21. #21 Quidam
    February 11, 2008

    Could I suggest the term colostomy-bag instead of douche-bag. While douche-bag is evocative of female reproductionary organs that need cleansing, the douche-bag itself is the solution to foul smells and uncleanliness. A colostomy-bag on the other hand (or should that be leg?)represents the target far more accurately – and is gender neutral.

  22. #22 Doug
    February 11, 2008

    Although we can certainly laugh at Behe’s logical fallacies and strawmen, the less critically minded populace will not give a second’s pause to his misleading statements. Sigh.

  23. #23 uncle noel
    February 11, 2008

    I thought “bible humping” was a funny malapropism. Some people really love their bible. Intentional?

  24. #24 Greg Laden
    February 11, 2008

    Uncle noel: It was the best thing I did all week.

    (writing it, not doing it)

  25. #25 Monado
    February 11, 2008

    There is still a typo: “Preying to the Invisible Man.”

    Preying mantises are so-called because they catch things, not because they neatly fold their “hands” before doing so.

    Good analysis. In my local news, the inventor of an apparent perpetual-motion machine was solemnly interviewed by the Toronto Star (of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, near the Great Lakes) the other day. Let me know if you have trouble getting to the article.

    It works with a magnet making an electric motor run. Nothing about friction or the motor’s eventual demise.

  26. #26 DiscoveredJoys
    February 11, 2008

    But now we know, through the efforts of science, that the cell is an ultra-sophisticated nanotech-driven factory filled to the brim with complex and elegant molecular machinery. The sophistication of such foundation of life is the strongest evidence for intelligent design.

    We really ought to kill this sort of hyperbole before it becomes another DI meme. Yes the cell is complicated, there are lots of molecules and structures, but all the diagrams and animations that show “how cells work” don’t show how the molecules bash about at their scale of activity and often ‘undock’ almost as often as they ‘dock’ with their corresponding targets. Not so much a sophisticated factory, more like the dogems at the carnival.

  27. #27 negentropyeater
    February 12, 2008

    Consider Behe’s definition of ID :
    “Intelligent design is just the idea that there are some things in nature that are better explained by deliberate intelligent design rather than simple laws and accidents.”

    Why is he using the word “better” ?

    Take Mt Rushmore, is the explanation
    “it was sculpted between 1927 and 1941, by Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers”
    a “better” explanation than
    “it is a natural phenomena” ?
    No, it is the only explanation. Moreover, the fact that we know that in this case, the “intelligent designer” was a naturally occuring human being (not an Alien or a supernatural spiritual carver), it does qualify as the only valid explanation.

    So, Mr Behe, why not use the word “only” instead of “better” ?
    And then, how do you show that an observed phenomena can “only” be explained by the intervention of an Int. Designer, when you have neither, an explanation for the designer and any evidence that he did intervene, nor any reason to abandon methodological naturalism ?

  28. #28 uncle noel
    February 12, 2008

    Careful, negen., asking these people for evidence delights them. They can go on and on about “irreducible complexity”. It’s all nonsense, of course; it’s essentially criticizing scientists because they haven’t explained everything.

    And, I can’t help myself: “Bible humpers” are those who know the Bible in the Biblical sense. (And what does that beget?)

  29. #29 Mark
    February 13, 2008

    Flaky, look up the Fermi Paradox.

  30. #30 Ann
    February 13, 2008

    And negentropyeater, look up phenomenon!

  31. #31 Argus
    March 2, 2008

    I’m a little late to the party, but as a feminist, I have no problem with the term “douchebag.” I see it as a synonym for “unnecessary irritation.”

    Michael Behe is definitely unnecessary and irritating.

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