The Intersection

The DI Rebuttal

Okay, the “rebuttal” (PDF) of my work from the Discovery Institute went online early today. So I have at least gotten to peruse it briefly. I can’t allege that I was “surprised” by it, though the timing of its release remains curious.

Anyway, you can peruse the document yourself, here, and compare it with my chapter on ID. I’ve done so, and, well…I’ll tell you my opinion later. This is the time for your own reactions.

P.S.: Casey Luskin came to my talk last night. I appreciate his openness to hearing the other point of view, and he seems like a perfectly nice guy. However I gave him a tongue lashing about his attack on my credentials. If you can stand it, his rebuttal is here.

P.P.S.: Again, you can listen to the Michael Medved Show today at 1 PM PT by going to the show website. I won’t be blogging any more until afterwards. Also use this post for comments/reactions to the show.

P.P.P.S: Well, the debate is done, it was actually much less contentious than I was preparing for, both because Michael Medved was a very fair host, and because the high number of callers prevented Wells and I from really getting into things and mixing it up. Anyway, thanks to all of you for listening. I think I held my own in a context when pretty much all of the calls were against me, although perhaps I could have been tougher and thrown a few more jabs. Any and all thoughts appreciated.

Comments

  1. #1 somnilista, FCD
    September 15, 2006

    I can’t read more than a page of Casey Luskin at a time without endangering my brain cells. I read the intro and skimmed the rest. Same ol same ol. Luskin is not just a lying hack, he is a boring, repetitive lying hack. Everything he writes has been refuted fully and effectively over and over. I’ll skip to the second last paragraph:

    If Mr. Mooney wants to critique ID, that is fine and he has every right to do so. But he should critique the actual theory of ID, and not promote the false, straw-man version described in his book.

    What actual theory is that? George Gilder, senior fellow at the Discovery Institute has stated (Boston Globe, July 27, 2005, article by Joseph P. Kahn):

    I’m not pushing to have [ID] taught as an ‘alternative’ to Darwin, and neither are [the Discovery Institute], What’s being pushed is to have Darwinism critiqued, to teach there’s a controversy. Intelligent design itself does not have any content.

    Paul Nelson, Fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, has said (Touchstone Magazine 7/8 (2004): pp 64-65):

    Easily the biggest challenge facing the ID community is to develop a full-fledged theory of biological design. We don’t have such a theory right now, and that’s a problem. Without a theory, it’s very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now, we’ve got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as “irreducible complexity” and “specified complexity” – but, as yet, no general theory of biological design.

    You’d think that Luskin, who is employed by the DI, might sit down and chat with those fellows.

  2. #2 SteveF
    September 15, 2006

    The usual bullshit. Heard a billion times and trivially refuted.

    A big, fat yawn from me.

  3. #3 somnilista, FCD
    September 15, 2006

    In his rebuttal, Luskin cited Behe and Snoke. No mention of Behe and Snoke should pass without mention of the response by Michael Lynch, Simple evolutionary pathways to complex proteins, Protein Science (2005), 14:2217-2225, which took Behe and Snoke apart pretty thoroughly, including showing that they literally did not know what they were writing about.

  4. #4 Dark Tent
    September 15, 2006

    Not only do they not have a theory, they don’t even have a full title. “Intelligent Design” of what?

    I suspect that when the “Theory of ID is finally found, it will be in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.

    Go getem Chris.

    All’s well that ends Wells.

  5. #5 J-Dog
    September 15, 2006

    OMG! 31 stinking pages of Unitelligently Designed blather.

    Once again, Casey steps up to the plate, swings and misses.
    It’s kind of cute in a wierd sort of way…it’s like my kid dressing up in an adult lab coat, pretending to be a real scientist… Casey pounds furiously on his keyboard, I mean in his lab…and says “Hey! Look at my article! It’s got real footnotes, and everything, that means I am a real scientist and you have to respect me! Right? Right? Guys?”

    Casey not only swung and missed with his latest screed, but he also swung at the wrong target – He should be trying to design a 12-step method that would get him away from his cultish ID demons, and back on the path of sanity.

    Sorry, Casey. Just because you and Ann Coulter “use” footnotes, doesn’t make you a scientist, nor does it make you right.

  6. #6 Forthekids
    September 15, 2006

    Hi Chris,

    I appreciate the work that is being done by the Discovery Institute. It has helped bring about discussion of the controversial issues in science that need attention.

    That being said, I was kind of wondering why you take such offense to the mention that your credentials are questionable in the areas of which you critique?

    I peruse various pro/anti-ID forums and it never ceases to amaze me how vicious some of the attacks are on ID advocates. We are told they “aren’t real scientist”, “that they have no credentials for the science they are putting forth”, etc., etc. But, it is quite easy to find that this is not accurate. Many of the fellows at DI have quite impressive credentials in the areas in which they write about.

    So, I think Casey has a good point and he seemed to be kind in his approach of the issue, which is much more than I can say for some of the attacks by pro-Darwinists found I’ve found in cyberspace.

  7. #7 Pharma Bawd
    September 15, 2006

    Luskin’s a fool. I can’t read anymore after he claims that directed evolution, in the context of in vitro random mutagenesis and selection for improved enzyme function, is otherwise known as intelligent design.

  8. #8 Chris Jeans
    September 15, 2006

    Weak. And if you’re gonna use footnotes to look scientific, shouldn’t you get it right?

    It’s Ib. or Ibid. Not Id.

    (or is there some subliminal purpose to all those Id.s?)

  9. #9 Doc Bill
    September 15, 2006

    So, the evil Chris Mooney “implies”, “insinuates”, “alleges”, “claims” and “misrepresents” so many things!

    I can’t believe Luskin dragged up Sternberg again. The Bio. Soc. of Washington STILL has a disclaimer on their website about the Meyer article after all these years. I suppose they’re misrepresenting Sternberg, too.

  10. #10 Patrick Orlob
    September 15, 2006

    I don’t think I’ve ever posted here before, but I’m am a regular reader. I just read through much of the DI document. (I lost interest and just skimmed when it became evident that there was NOTHING of substance, mostly just Luskin saying “Mooney says so and so, but we at the DI actually word it slightly differently. How dishonest of Mr. Mooney.”)

    Good lord, the defense of ID is so circular and infuriating. ID is intellectually dishonest in so many ways. An ID “scientist” might say “This biological sturcture looks like something a human engineer would design. Therefore, it must have been designed by some external entity. Evolution is invalid.”

    If the scientist were truly as agnostic about the possibility and nature of the designer as luskin claims ID proponents are, he would say “This looks like something a human engineer would design. Interesting. I wonder what brought this about.” The scientist would then set about trying to find the solution to the question.

    ID works the other way: they have their answer and proceed to find unanswered questions to apply to it.

    Here’s the crux of the problem: If you have no evidence, then your claim is meaningless. For instance, we know the big bang has occurred because of ample evidence, but science doesn’t claim to know where the universe came, what the source of the big bang was. ID, on the other makes such claims (“There eye was designed by an external force of some unknown kind”) but is unable to provide us with any useful insight. What kind of designer? Was it god? Aliens? Cybernetic octopi from the future? How and did this occur? Without that, we’re left with something akin to Atkins’ “Teapot theory.”

  11. #11 BC
    September 15, 2006

    Again, you can listen to the Michael Medved Show today at 1 PM PT by going to the show website.

    So how, exactly, do we listen to the broadcast by following this link? The “Listen Live” link (on that page) seems to link to a webpage where you can buy memberships to listen online. Apparently, there’s no way to listen without paying for a membership?

  12. #12 somnilista, FCD
    September 15, 2006

    I peruse various pro/anti-ID forums and it never ceases to amaze me how vicious some of the attacks are on ID advocates. We are told they “aren’t real scientist”, “that they have no credentials for the science they are putting forth”, etc., etc. But, it is quite easy to find that this is not accurate. Many of the fellows at DI have quite impressive credentials in the areas in which they write about.

    I have to doubt whether anyone leveled such a criticism. ID proponents are not putting forth science in support of ID. Period. ID is not scientific, as is well-known by the scientific community, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and by a federal judge.

  13. #13 rock creek rambler
    September 15, 2006

    “Id.” is legal citation (Blue Book) that basically means the same thing as “Ibid.” Though, I’m not sure what style guide you’re supposed to use for ignorant screed.

  14. #14 Anthony Kendall
    September 15, 2006

    Mr. Mooney,
    I haven’t yet read your chapter on ID, but based on how weak the critique of it is, I’m convinced you did a pretty good job!

    Consider how serious and devastating critques have been made against tripe like the Politically Incorrect Guide to Science, and this critique of your work looks even flimsier.

  15. #15 mtraven
    September 15, 2006

    You apparently have to pony up money and become a “Medhead” to listen to the live feed. Fat chance.

    Here’s a station in San Francisco that’s carrying it free.

  16. #16 Fred Bortz
    September 15, 2006

    Chris,

    You certainly held your own, and Medved was surprisingly neutral.

    Wells supporters probably were disappointed, considering you were on his turf, so to speak. I’ll give you good marks for this one.

    I couldn’t listen to the program on Medved’s site without joining, but I found a radio station in Philadelphia that carried it live online. A local Pittsburgh station (WPIT 710 for anyone who cares) will carry it later, probably at 7:00.

  17. #17 ERV
    September 15, 2006

    Forthekids– The problem I have with Creationists with ‘credentials’ is that Im a biologist myself. I know what they should know. I know what they were taught in graduate school. Yet they still make the same mistakes as one would expect from someone with no advanced training… And Im still just a student. People of their education should be able to teach me. I shouldnt be able to correct them. Yet I can. Easily.

    Id be more humiliated by the fact a child could correct me in my own field, than a journalist criticizing me on political/historical things.

  18. #18 Inoculated Mind
    September 15, 2006

    Wow… 30 pages of nonsense. You should feel good in that it probably took Casey Luskin a couple weeks to put it together. I would have paid real money to see/hear that tongue-lashing you gave him.

    I just read the post of his you linked to… haha he’s “interested” in the positive attention you’ve been getting! The last paragraph is gold.

  19. #19 Casey Luskin
    September 15, 2006

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for your kind post and words about me. I sincerely enjoyed hearing you talk yesterday and I hope your book signing goes well tomorrow night. I’m interested in your perception of what you think about what your commenters are saying about me:

    “a lying hack”
    “The usual bullshit.”
    “He should be trying to design a 12-step method that would get him away from his cultish ID demons, and back on the path of sanity”
    “Luskin’s a fool”
    “30 pages of nonsense”
    “ID is intellectually dishonest”

    Chris, I’m curious: In light of the above comments, what do you think about the type of reception I am being given by the people who frequent your blog?

    Also, my sincere apologies to all if my response was too long–I know we only have so much time in the day to read, so I’m sorry if the length prevents some people from reading it as that would take a long time. But I wanted to be thorough. Finally, a couple other factual notes:

    - I didn’t come up with the idea of writing a rebuttal until Monday night (Sept 11).
    - I’ve never read anything by Ann Coulter.
    - “Id.” is the footnote format that Harvard Bluebook (used by most law schools) uses (thanks RockCreekRambler for pointing that out).
    - I never called Mooney “dishonest,” because (a) I see no reason to think he is dishonest, and (b) even if I did, it’s not very nice to call names because I know what it feels like to be called names (though I happily forgive those who do that to me).

    Thanks all for reading and I look forward to reading an elaboration from Chris about his views about the statements by his commenters that I posted above.

    Sincerely,

    Casey

    p.s. I have a law review article due tonight, so I do not have time to respond to any other comments people leave me. But since the first questions I’m usually asked request to see (a) the theory of ID, (b) the data supporting ID, etc., you can find my take on all that at http://www.caseyluskin.com/id.htm. Thanks again all and have a great weekend.

  20. #20 PZ Myers
    September 15, 2006

    I don’t know about Chris, but I think the commenters are insightful, perceptive, and honest.

  21. #21 Chris Mooney
    September 15, 2006

    Okay, c’mon, folks, be courteous to Casey Luskin. He has attacked my credentials to write on intelligent design, but let us nevertheless try to rise above.

    Thank you.

  22. #22 Casey Luskin
    September 16, 2006

    Did I really attack credentials “to write on intelligent design,” Chris?

    “In closing, Chris: you’re a smart, articulate guy who knows a lot of stuff and you can write about whatever you want”

    (http://www.evolutionnews.org/2006/09/chris_mooney_speaks_in_seattle.html, Posted by Casey Luskin on September 14, 2006 7:47 PM)

  23. #23 Doc Bill
    September 16, 2006

    Sorry, Casey, but I find that you call yourself a “scientist” insulting. Slanderous. By the same token I don’t give a rat’s ass that you call yourself a lawyer.

    Survival of the fittest, I suppose!

  24. #24 Forthekids
    September 16, 2006

    ERV,

    You wrote “Yet they still make the same mistakes as one would expect from someone with no advanced training… And Im still just a student.”

    I’m trying real hard not to giggle, but have you taken a look at the credentials attached to their names over there??

    I simply can’t imagine that they have no clue as to what they are writing about.

    Just a bit of advise…try a new strategy. Trying to convince the public that the DI fellows are all idiots is just not going to pan out for ya in the long haul.

  25. #25 Timcol
    September 16, 2006

    Casey – Yes I think you did at least bring into question Chris’s credentials. Previous to the quote you made in your rebuttal you wrote:

    “Chris Mooney has every right to write a book and talk about whatever he wants. That’s what journalists do, and that’s not an interesting point. The interesting point is how many academics and well-credentialed members of the intelligentsia crave his words about intelligent design, despite the fact that he has no formal credentials in neither science nor law.

    Perhaps this is not an attack per se, but you are certainly casting doubt on whether Chris should be taken seriously.

    Also, why is it now important to have a degree in law to discuss ID? (if I was a cynic I would be tempted to say it’s because the DI think that acceptance of ID can be won in the courts more than in the laboratory, but I would never say anything like that).

    Of course some could equally question your credentials to write about biological issues since you do not have a degree in the biological sciences, but that doesn’t stop you.

  26. #26 Forthekids
    September 16, 2006

    pz writes:
    “I don’t know about Chris, but I think the commenters are insightful, perceptive, and honest.”

    Of course you do, pz. That is the type of language that you put forth on a daily basis. The nastier the put down, the better in your opinion.

    I often wonder just how much harm you do for your side of this debate. I would expect it is a considerable amount. I suppose I shouldn’t complain about that, but it surprises me that others don’t try to tone you down a bit.

    Keep up the chatter, man. Quoting you is so helpful in helping people understand how nasty and illogical some college professors can get about various topics in this debate.

  27. #27 Forthekids
    September 16, 2006

    Timcol writes:

    “Perhaps this is not an attack per se, but you are certainly casting doubt on whether Chris should be taken seriously.”

    Um…I’m kind of thinkin’ that Casey was asking a very logical question. It was hardly an “attack”. If you want various examples of an “attack”, just read the above comments made about Casey.

  28. #28 James Roden
    September 16, 2006

    After following this whole situation with the lunatics who are trying to ram Intelligent Design down our throats, I have one question:

    How much money, that could have been used for far more useful purposes, have they wasted and cost the taxpayers of this country so far? Is there any conceivable way they can be held accountable for that?

  29. #29 Kristjan Wager
    September 16, 2006

    It’s an attack on Chris’ credential, not a personal attack as such. You seem tot hink that all attacks have to be eprsonal attacks, in order to be considered attacks.

  30. #30 shiva
    September 16, 2006

    Casey says,

    “p.s. I have a law review article due tonight, so I do not have time to respond to any other comments people leave me.” This is a common tactic used by IDCs to affect an air of nonchalance on blogs, and stale and transparent. After churning out a 30 page long screed of gibberish Casey wants us to believe he has ‘other’ things to do! Come on Casey, try another one on us.

    Forthekids,

    IDCs mistake diplomas for ‘credentials’. In the world of science (it exists you know, it’s real) you are only as good as your last scientific publication. Wells may have a PhD in Cell Biology, but he is still only as good as his dissertation and that other paper he worked on during his ‘postdoc’. Behe is only as good as the paper he published about 10 years ago before he started making those rat traps. Rubbish like Meyer’s hopeless monster paper don’t count. If a paper has been reviewed and found wanting (IDC papers don’t qualify even for this standard) it is discarded. IDC papers are so trashy that they aren’t worth discussion. IDC pushers are pretty smart and believe that discretion is the better part of valour. That’s why barring Behe and Minnich the rest made themselves scarce during Kitzmiller. There is nothing that can be taken seriously in any IDC publication, article or statement. When this slop is dished out ceaselessly one can’t but call it for the trash it is.

  31. #31 PZ Myers
    September 16, 2006

    Here’s an example of Luskin’s competence. It’s actually quite comparable to the usual drivel coming out of the DI: factually incorrect and demonstrating poor scholarship. The attacks on ID advocates are vicious because they are so well earned.

  32. #32 Joseph O'Donnell
    September 16, 2006

    Just a bit of advise…try a new strategy. Trying to convince the public that the DI fellows are all idiots is just not going to pan out for ya in the long haul.

    I find the DI fellows do that for themselves rather adequately actually. Behe admitting on the stand at Dover that under the definition of science that would make ID scientific, would also make astrology a scientific concept as well, is a particularly good example.

  33. #33 ERV
    September 16, 2006

    *Forthekids*… have you taken a look at the credentials attached to their names over there??
    Trying to convince the public that the DI fellows are all idiots is just not going to pan out for ya in the long haul

    ‘Idiots’? No, I would never use that word. They arent dumb, they know exactly what theyre doing. But ‘what theyre doing’ is not science. Again, I as a grad student (worse when I was an undergraduate) should not be able to correct them on basic biology. They are supposed to be the teachers.

    I think this ‘credential’ thing is the ultimate tragedy of Creationists. They have the luck of receiving an education that 99% of the worlds population cant even dream of. Instead of using their education (and especially their ‘theory’- nice conflation, Casey) to help the world– create better crops, create better treatments for cancer, creating anything, they do this political nonsense. Its us damn ‘Evolutionists’ that use evolution to help humanity any way we can, and we have to waste time dealing with their nonsense. Look IDers, some of us have work to do. Go away until you get your heads screwed on straight and have some science to show us.

    *Chris* He has attacked my credentials to write on intelligent design…

    And I call BS on that. Everything you wrote about ID in RWOS is a matter of public knowledge. You didnt attempt to speak outside of your expertise.

    And, they dont seem to mind that virtually everyone with ‘credentials’ doesnt buy their creationism. I have a hard time believing that ‘credentials’ have anything to do with this

  34. #34 Pharma Bawd
    September 16, 2006

    Mr. Luskin,

    I would be interested to hear how directed evolution like this:
    http://www.genetics.org/cgi/reprint/70/1/59
    “is otherwise known as intelligent design”. You have repeated this untruth in two of your writings.

    It is because of gross errors, or deliberate misrepresentations, like this that I stand firmly behind my earlier remarks.

  35. #35 Dave M
    September 16, 2006

    Re: Medved – I’ve never heard his show, but I remember him from when he was on a Siskel/Ebert type movie review show, and I thought he was pretty fair. Naturally he was all over the “family-friendly” stuff, but he also liked edgy films when they were good. FWIW.

  36. #36 Dark Tent
    September 16, 2006

    ERV said “Instead of using their education … to help the world– create better crops, create better treatments for cancer, creating anything, they do this political nonsense.”

    I agree. What has ID given to our society?

    Nothing. Not a single solitary thing.

    But what has the crusade** to “teach the controversy” cost our society so far”?

    **ID is obviously a religious crusade in scientific garb and the association of the Moonies and evangelicals with ID is no accident.

    So, let me ask, How much did the Dover suit cost? How much does it cost whenever a scientist (or journalist) devotes time to debunking their nonsense?

    It is hard to gage precisely, but I would guess plenty.

    ID has more than a little in common with “Lysenkoism”, which held back Russian bioscience for decades. The primary difference, of course, is that Lysenkoism had the full weight of the political and (il)legal apparatus behind it and ID has neither (though our current President obviously subscribes to it).

    But if ID ever did win the full backing of the political and legal system in this country, it could have a devastating effect on our nation’s future, which is so heavily dependent on science and technology.

    Scientists have every right to be angry about what is going on and every reason to oppose the efforts of the ID crusaders at every turn.

    If people like Mr. Luskin do not like that, perhaps they should take a good look at what they themselves have done to bring on such a response.

  37. #37 Inoculated Mind
    September 16, 2006

    “In closing, Chris: you’re a smart, articulate guy who knows a lot of stuff and you can write about whatever you want.”

    Chris’s right to write about whatever he wants should never be in question when writing a critique. That’s a right that everyone enjoys in this country, so I don’t see the point in even saying it, except to subtly suggest that maybe he shouldn’t have written it.

    Casey Luskin has every right in the world to breathe air – what does that imply?

    Anyway, I’ll accept that Casey may have taken just a few days of his time to write it, which is certainly believable considering that much of it is a repeat of the nonsense that the DI always puts out. ID does not rest on a positive argument, unless you consider a negative argument to be a positive argument. Come on, even Bill Dembski admits that its a negative argument, although he’s not honest about the fact that Darwin vs Design is a false dilemma and thus a poor disjunctive syllogism. I also stand by my statement that it is 30 pages of nonsense. Accurate characterizations are not insults, although Casey may take it personally. I agree with Chris that the personal attacks aren’t necessary. There are plenty of criticisms to make without resorting to them.

    I also find it curious that Casey declared that he would not be able to follow the discussion, and then 1.5 hours later, is commenting again. This means that he is reading it. I’ve got a zinger for you, Casey, if intelligent design is science then why did your IDEA clubs restrict leadership only to Christians? And why change that policy only after Kitzmiller v. Dover?

  38. #38 somnilista, FCD
    September 16, 2006

    Chris, I’m curious: In light of the above comments, what do you think about the type of reception I am being given by the people who frequent your blog?

    What would you expect him to do about it, censor almost all remarks critical of ID, such as happens on Uncommon Descent?

    And since you’ve put in an appearance, just what exactly is the “actual theory of ID”, and why do Nelson and Gilder seem to be in the dark about this?

    And since you brought up the topic of credentials, just what credentials do a biochemist and an astronomer have in population genetics? Should Behe and Snoke be embarrassed to discover that the literally didn’t know what they were writing about? Having discovered this, shouldn’t Behe have stopped making claims that his paper had established anything at all about Darwinian processes?

  39. #39 somnilista, FCD
    September 17, 2006

    Oh darn. It seems Mr. Luskin only had time to play the victim, not to answer any questions of substance.

  40. #40 SteveF
    September 18, 2006

    Casey,

    What you have wrote is, I’m afraid, the ‘usual bullshit’ (to quote me earlier). Your defense of ID’s abysmal publication record, for example, is one of the most singularly feeble things I have ever had the misfortune to read. I’ll produce more papers in the peer-reviewed literature as part of my entirely insignificant PhD than the exalted ID movement, with its 600 doubting Darwinists, has in its entire existence. That is beyond pathetic.

    This is the same schtick you have been parroting for a while, almost as if you actually believe it (which, as an intelligent person, you surely don’t).

  41. #41 Fred Bortz
    September 18, 2006

    “almost as if you actually believe it (which, as an intelligent person, you surely don’t).” — SteveF

    This is where we scientists need to be careful. There is a difference between belief and knowledge.

    Acting as a scientist, Casey may indeed know that Evolution is a powerful theory supported by a huge body of evidence, while ID is simply not a science at all.

    But as a religious person, Casey may believe that ID is still the true explanation and that science is inadequate to explain it.

    So it is pointless to tell him that he doesn’t believe ID, or if he does, he must lack intelligence. It is simply an area where religion guides him and science does not. We can see that from the outside, but he can’t see it from the inside.

    The problem is, and where I take issue with Casey and those like him, is using religious beliefs in a political argument about how we should teach science. If he wants to undermine his own children’s science education by muddling it with ID, I can’t stop him. But if he wants to do the same for the education of other people’s children, then as a scientist and concerned citizen, I have an obligation to oppose him.

    That’s the kind of action Chris is calling for when he talks about what scientists should do when discussing RWOS. Insulting the intelligence of ID believers is a pointless exercise in acrimony.

  42. #42 somnilista, FCD
    September 21, 2006

    Luskin still hasn’t returned to answer the various questions put to him? Schade.