Pharyngula

Thank you, Michael Behe

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By request, I’m bringing over this old post on the outcome of the Dover trial. What it reveals to an astonishing degree is how delusional and disconnected from reality the Discovery Institute gang are.


Michael Behe has previously commented on his testimony in the Kitzmiller trial. He felt good about it; in fact, he thought it was exhilarating and fun.

I haven’t the foggiest idea how the Judge will rule, but I think we got to show a lot of people that ID is a very serious idea.

Hmmmm…I wonder, what did the judge think of his testimony? Do you think there might be a way to, you know, find out?

Let’s look in his decision for references to Behe! As it turns out, we owe a debt of gratitude to the good doctor of ID for the invaluable assistance of his testimony.

Here are a few choice quotes from Judge Jones’ decision that specifically cite Behe’s testimony.

Dr. Haught testified that this argument for the existence of God was advanced early in the 19th century by Reverend Paley and defense expert witnesses Behe and Minnich admitted that their argument for ID based on the “purposeful arrangement of parts” is the same one that Paley made for design.


Moreover, it is notable that both Professors Behe and Minnich admitted their personal view is that the designer is God and Professor Minnich testified that he understands many leading advocates of ID to believe the designer to be God.


Consider, to illustrate, that Professor Behe remarkably and unmistakably claims that the plausibility of the argument for ID depends upon the extent to which one believes in the existence of God.


As no evidence in the record indicates that any other scientific proposition’s validity rests on belief in God, nor is the Court aware of any such scientific propositions, Professor Behe’s assertion constitutes substantial evidence that in his view, as is commensurate with other prominent ID leaders, ID is a religious and not a scientific proposition.


Stated another way, ID posits that animals did not evolve naturally through evolutionary means but were created abruptly by a non-natural, or supernatural, designer. Defendants’ own expert witnesses acknowledged this point.


First, defense expert Professor Fuller agreed that ID aspires to “change the ground rules” of science and lead defense expert Professor Behe admitted that his broadened definition of science, which encompasses ID, would also embrace astrology. Moreover, defense expert Professor Minnich acknowledged that for ID to be considered science, the ground rules of science have to be broadened to allow consideration of supernatural forces.


What is more, defense experts concede that ID is not a theory as that term is defined by the NAS and admit that ID is at best “fringe science” which has achieved no acceptance in the scientific community.


Moreover, cross-examination revealed that Professor Behe’s redefinition of the blood-clotting system was likely designed to avoid peer- reviewed scientific evidence that falsifies his argument, as it was not a scientifically warranted redefinition.


We therefore find that Professor Behe’s claim for irreducible complexity has been refuted in peer-reviewed research papers and has been rejected by the scientific community at large.


As Plaintiffs aptly submit to the Court, throughout the entire trial only one piece of evidence generated by Defendants addressed the strength of the ID inference: the argument is less plausible to those for whom God’s existence is in question, and is much less plausible for those who deny God’s existence.


The one article referenced by both Professors Behe and Minnich as supporting ID is an article written by Behe and Snoke entitled “Simulating evolution by gene duplication of protein features that require multiple amino acid residues.” (P-721). A review of the article indicates that it does not mention either irreducible complexity or ID. In fact, Professor Behe admitted that the study which forms the basis for the article did not rule out many known evolutionary mechanisms and that the research actually might support evolutionary pathways if a biologically realistic population size were used.

Behe’s right. That was fun!

Here’s an even more fun part. Behe thought one part of the cross-examination was such a slam dunk for him, that he singled it out for bragging:

The cross examination was fun too, and showed that the other side really does have only rhetoric and bluster. At one point the lawyer for the other side who was cross examining me ostentatiously piled a bunch of papers on the witness stand that putatively had to do with the evolution of the immune system. But it was obvious from a cursory examination that they were more examples of hand waving speculations, which I had earlier discussed in my direct testimony. So I was able to smile and say that they had nothing more to say than the other papers. I then thought to myself, that here the NCSE, ACLU, and everyone in the world who is against ID had their shot to show where we were wrong, and just trotted out more speculation. It actually made me feel real good about things.

Oh, yeah. I can picture Behe waving away a stack of research articles with a supercilious smirk, dazzling the judge with his confidence. How do you think it was interpreted?

In fact, on cross-examination, Professor Behe was questioned concerning his 1996 claim that science would never find an evolutionary explanation for the immune system. He was presented with fifty-eight peer-reviewed publications, nine books, and several immunology textbook chapters about the evolution of the immune system; however, he simply insisted that this was still not sufficient evidence of evolution, and that it was not “good enough.”

We find that such evidence demonstrates that the ID argument is dependent
upon setting a scientifically unreasonable burden of proof for the theory of
evolution.

Ouch. Backfire.

This is terribly unseemly. I’m sitting here reading the decision, chortling to myself, when I really do have work to do. But it’s so darned good! I feel like I ought to just quote all 139 pages and be done with it!

Comments

  1. #1 Bronze Dog
    August 29, 2006

    First, defense expert Professor Fuller agreed that ID aspires to “change the ground rules” of science and lead defense expert Professor Behe admitted that his broadened definition of science, which encompasses ID, would also embrace astrology.

    Such fond memories.

    And thanks to Behe, I’ve made a note to take ID less seriously than astrology.

  2. #2 steve s
    August 29, 2006

    The one article referenced by both Professors Behe and Minnich as supporting ID is an article written by Behe and Snoke entitled “Simulating evolution by gene duplication of protein features that require multiple amino acid residues.” (P-721). A review of the article indicates that it does not mention either irreducible complexity or ID. In fact, Professor Behe admitted that the study which forms the basis for the article did not rule out many known evolutionary mechanisms and that the research actually might support evolutionary pathways if a biologically realistic population size were used.

    After that, I need a cigarette.

  3. #3 Pi Guy
    August 29, 2006

    I’m completely misquoting as I can’t find the source of the statement but I once read that

    – The most frequent application of rational thought is to justify tht which we already believe. –

    I’d say that that pretty much sums up the mind of “ID is science” claimants.

  4. #4 Pi Guy
    August 29, 2006

    tht = that

  5. #5 themann1086
    August 29, 2006

    Pi Guy,

    Michael Shermer makes a similar point in Why Do People Believe Weird Things? which, in paperback, includes a “Why Do Smart People Believe Weird Things?” chapter. It’s excellent.

  6. #6 Julie Stahlhut
    August 29, 2006

    In the world according to Behe:

    * Peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters are “hand-waving speculation”…
    * … while “ID is a very serious idea”.
    * Making both of the above statements in court is a reason to “feel real good”.

    Thanks, Mike, indeed.

  7. #7 Ray
    August 29, 2006

    Hey Pi Guy,
    – The most frequent application of rational thought is to justify that which we already believe. –

    That would be more rationalization that rational thought, yes?

    Ray

  8. #8 NoName
    August 29, 2006

    Simply hilarious!
    At the same time it is sad to see how educated people make a fool of themselves.

  9. #9 Kristine
    August 29, 2006

    I waded through this. Behe has a peculiar notion of “fun.” Presumably, if intelligent design were to be completely run out of this country, that would be a blast. (Yes, it would be.)

    Q: Before we leave Pandas, you said this was not a statement you would have signed off on, correct?
    A: Yes.
    Q: But you actually were a critical review of Pandas, correct; that’s what it says in the acknowledgements page of the book?
    A: That’s what it lists there, but that does not mean that I critically reviewed the whole book and commented on it in detail, yes.
    Q: What did you review and comment on , Professor Behe?
    A: I reviewed the literature concerning blood clotting, and worked with the editor on the section that became the blood clotting system. So I was principally responsible for that section.
    Q: So you were reviewing your own work?

  10. #10 Mike
    August 29, 2006

    Behe floppped face-first into a pile of shit in Dover and came away excited, exclaiming ‘There must be a pony!’

  11. #11 DominicH
    August 29, 2006

    Making the connection between ID and Astrology leads me to an unfortunate conclusion:

    What hope has science got of beating ID-Creationism when society still accepts pseudo-scientific practices such as astrology.

    Astrology makes testable predictions that can be and are shown to fail but still there is a huge market for this rubbish.

    PS: The conflation of ID-Creationism always reminds me of Sinn Fein-IRA, question is, which is the military wing?

  12. #12 Robster
    August 29, 2006

    But Kary Mullis believes in astrology! And he has a Nobel prize![/snark]

  13. #13 Molly, NYC
    August 29, 2006

    Your points are all well taken (and, as always, I’m amazed at your patience in refuting in detail–or even reading–these jackasses). But what did you expect him to say?

    (a) “Hmmm. This ID stuff is utter crap.”

    (b) “Those Darwinist SOBs made me look like a fool.”

    (c) “Everything is just ginger-peachy with ice cream on top. Wow, does Jesus ever love me!”

  14. #14 Bronze Dog
    August 29, 2006

    Behe floppped face-first into a pile of shit in Dover and came away excited, exclaiming ‘There must be a pony!’

    Matt knows all about that.

  15. #15 oldhippie
    August 29, 2006

    “Behe thought one part of the cross-examination was such a slam dunk for him”
    Shows that his view of life is divorced from reality, just like his nonscience.

  16. #16 Ginger Yellow
    August 29, 2006

    Behe’s response I can understand, because as one of the two main ID proponents he’s got a lot at stake, both psychologically and financially. What I couldn’t understand was Fuller’s approach, even after he had tried to explain it at length on various blogs after the case. He kept on banging on about how even if ID were an underdeveloped, religious theory, it was a good thing because it would open up new avenues of research. Yet he would never answer posts explaining that because of its Goddidit approach and lack of content, it actually shuts down research. The only expanation I could find for this behaviour that made sense was a comment that he disliked the way that evolution displaced mankind from its central place in the universe, or words to that effect. Which seems bizarre to me. Humans can’t help but be anthropocentric, and evolutionary theory won’t change that. As much as we learn about how we are related to bats, we’ll never know what it’s like to be a bat.

  17. #17 mark
    August 29, 2006

    I’m still reading through the huge pile a material about Dover, much of which is from the local newspapers. I especially liked what Dover attorney Robert Muise predicted Behe would accomplish on the stand.

  18. #18 Kristine
    August 29, 2006

    As much as we learn about how we are related to bats, we’ll never know what it’s like to be a bat.

    Yes, but Ginger Yellow, some people already do know what it’s like to be a dingbat. And apparently once those dingdorphins kick in, only a major intervention can save these people.

  19. #19 Alex
    August 29, 2006

    Dominic,

    Don’t lose hope. I think your analogy isn’t quite accurate, here’s why:

    ID will never cure cancer and any other major disease. ID is not able to predict or cure the next killer virus. ID fails miserably at predicting anything “real”. That’s not what it was built to do.

    The biological sciences impact human lives in very meaningful, i.e. life and death, ways. I’m not sure astrology can boast too much about things like that. ID certainly can’t.

  20. #20 Max Udargo
    August 29, 2006

    I remember reading a transcript of Behe’s testimony on TalkOrigins and having a strong sense that he was annoying the judge with his clumsy, amateurish, legalistic parsing. He repeatedly refused to give straight answers to simple questions. And the guy would not shut up about the Big Bang, to the point it even became a joke between the judge and prosecuting attorney Rothchild in one of the meetings in chamber during Behe’s testimony.

    Judge Jones: How much more cross do you have?

    Rothchild: It will be inversely proportional to mentions of the Big Bang, I think.

    Judge Jones: So you’re going to go all day.

    Rothchild: It could be quite a while.

    Yeah, Behe was slappin’ ’em around and calling ’em Susan.

  21. #21 lo
    August 29, 2006

    ID less seriously than astrology??? astrology was the ancestor of astronomy, kinda like alchemy could be seen as the ancestor to chemistry. Those people cannot be blamed for anything they were just as fascinated by nature as all others, but in those times there was no access and even books were often hard, i mean really hard and very costly to get. In todays world we are literally flooded with paper, mags and information of all sorts.

    ID is just a stupid thought of Behe and some other idiots in order for BEHE to immortialize himself (hist. speaking) kinda like jesus did – in fact in pretty much the same way. Behe doesn`t have the potential and intelligence like Ron Hubbard and in fact he is right to question natural selection.
    There is just no way he would have survived with such minimalistic brain function. Sadly this is a dead end, since understanding socialogical implications is way beyond Behe`s comprehension scale.

  22. #22 False Prophet
    August 29, 2006

    Michael Shermer makes a similar point in Why Do People Believe Weird Things? which, in paperback, includes a “Why Do Smart People Believe Weird Things?” chapter. It’s excellent.

    Posted by: themann1086 | August 29, 2006 09:13 AM

    I just finished reading that book last week and while the entire book is great, the “Smart People” chapter is definitely the best.

  23. #23 Michael Geissler
    August 29, 2006

    Behe’s partner in stupidity, Steve Fuller, has a review in this week’s New Scientist of Francis Collins’ book:

    “LET me start by declaring an interest: I am that Steve Fuller who gave evidence for the defence in the trial over whether intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution in schools in Dover, Pennsylvania, last year. And books like this persuade me that I did the right thing.”

    Apparently, he doesn’t like the book. I think. To be honest, I don’t know what Fuller’s game is. Any speculation, folks?

    (The introduction of the review is online at the New Scientist site but you have to be a subscriber to read the whole thing. If you really want to.)

  24. #24 Steve LaBonne
    August 29, 2006

    For Steve Fuller fans- if you can stand any more of his schtick, go on over to the Crooked Timber archives and look up the Chris Mooney seminar (there’s a link on the left side of the main page), to which Fuller made extensive and “distinguished” “contributions”. Oy.

  25. #25 junk science
    August 29, 2006

    I’m now convinced that Behe is actually a real scientist trying to take down creationism with the most absurdist real-world demonstration he could think of. No wonder he’s so thrilled. He is truly a man ahead of his time.

  26. #26 quork
    August 30, 2006

    I’m now convinced that Behe is actually a real scientist trying to take down creationism with the most absurdist real-world demonstration he could think of…

    Have Michael Behe and Alan Sokal ever been seen in the same room together?

  27. #27 Keith Douglas
    August 30, 2006

    Michael Geissler: Fuller’s game? Easy. Get the phrase “Steve Fuller” to appear as many places as possible.

  28. #28 Michael Geissler
    August 30, 2006

    And I’ve played right into his hands!

    I’ll just try to get the phrase “Steve Fuller is a bonehead” to appear in as many places as possible.

  29. #29 John M. Burt
    August 31, 2006

    Astronomy is an honorable (though long-retired) ancestor of astronomy.

    ID is no ancestor of anything, but a non-viable mutant offspring of evolution, surviving parasitically upon it, and quite infertile.

  30. #30 John M. Burt
    August 31, 2006

    Uhh, make that, “Astrology is an honorable (though long-retired) ancestor of astronomy.”

  31. #31 Just Keepin It Real
    September 4, 2006

    This thread isn’t any fun without Larry BrainFartMan chiming in with his takes.

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