Pharyngula

WTF?

The incompetence is stunning. Richard Dawkins makes the Time 100 list, and who do they commission to write up his profile?

Michael Fucking Behe.

That’s not just stupid, it’s a slap in the face. It would have been no problem to find a smart biologist, even one who might be critical of Dawkins’ message, to write something that expressed some measure of respect from the editorial staff. But to dig up a pseudoscientific fraud whose sole claim to fame is that he has led the charge to corrupt American science education for over a decade is shameful.

I’m sure there’s an editor at Time sniggering over his cleverness.

Comments

  1. #1 quork
    May 3, 2007

    The link worked for me the second time. Maybe they did it deliberately to stir up some controversy and sell some page hits (cough Chad Orzel cough)

  2. #2 quork
    May 3, 2007

    Of Richard Dawkins’ nine books, none caused as much controversy or sold as well as last year’s The God Delusion. The central idea–popular among readers and deeply unsettling among proponents of intelligent design like myself–is that religion is a so-called virus of the mind, a simple artifact of cultural evolution, no more or less meaningful than eye color or height.

    I wonder if Behe even read the book. The “mind virus” concept is not the central idea of the book. It is a broad-based discussion of the lack of evidence for the existence of gods, with additional sections on the possible evolutionary origins of religion, and the harm that religion causes in the world.

  3. #3 Bryce
    May 3, 2007

    Wow. Could they possibly find anyone less qualified than Michael (F) Behe?

    It’s the equivalent of asking George W. Bush to write a treatise on ethics…

    And who new that the Bible advises us to be not lukewarm??

  4. #4 denise
    May 3, 2007

    wow, I’m horrified and angry.

  5. #5 Blake Stacey
    May 3, 2007

    They got Michael Lemonick to write up Neil deGrasse Tyson. (You’ll recall that Lemonick’s blog is where Michael Egnor first showed up and the whack-a-mole game began.) I can only think that he exaggerates Tyson’s name-recognition factor and meme-market capitalization. In other words, I wish Tyson were as famous as Lemonick makes him out to be.

    (Note: the ScienceBlogs spam filter apparently thinks Tyson is a dirty word when used in a hyperlink!)

  6. #6 Steven
    May 3, 2007

    Anyways if you look at that Time 100 top 5. It shows just how stupid the list is. I don’t want Dawkins associated with it to be honest. Top 5 is 1. Rain (Who?) 2. Stephen Colbert (ok hes funny but most influential in the world?) 3. Sanjaya Malakar (a american idol loser) 4. Dane Cook (comedian, not influential). 5. Sidney Crosby (A feckin Hockey player I am told).

    Any list that has Paris Hilton on it (unless it is “biggest waste of sperm ever”) doesn’t deserve much attention.

    Seriously. People are dumb.

  7. #7 Blake Stacey
    May 3, 2007

    PZ said:

    The Time website is awful. Try navigating around to the other entries, or finding a central list to all 100 — some genuinely incompetent designer put that mess together.

    Sweet Lady Isis, yes! Even when you do find a list, you see a Flash applet used to display it. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

  8. #8 Mike Haubrich
    May 3, 2007

    Not to worry, PZ. They all ready have plans for when you are on the list. John A Davison will write the article.

    I never voted in this. I think this kind of thing is as useful as fan voting for the Baseball All-Stars. People largely vote for their hometown players and faves, and not for the players they really think represent the best in the league.

  9. #9 sdh
    May 3, 2007

    Yes the list is stupid… however it would have been interesting if Time had kept the Behe-writing-up-Dawkins theme for all of their profiles.

    Perhaps they should have had David Duke write up Oprah Winfrey. Or Dick Cheney write up Al Gore.

    Regardless, Time has not been a magazine of repute for quite some time.

  10. #10 forsen
    May 3, 2007

    I’m at a loss of words. Why didn’t they pick Ken Miller or Simon Conway Morris if they wanted a theist to write it?

  11. #11 MJ Memphis
    May 3, 2007

    Well, when I read the profile, it wasn’t as bad as I expected; Behe was actually fairly complimentary towards Dawkins. I would still question the reasoning behind choosing Behe as the writer, but at least he didn’t do a hatchet job. Did the other figures in the top 100 have a similarly adversarial choice of profile author, or is Dawkins just special?

    Bryce- the verse is from Revelations, the acid-trip book of the bible. Rev 3:14-16 “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” Evidently yahweh doesn’t like fence-sitters.

  12. #12 Bronze Dog
    May 3, 2007

    Yeah, let’s go ahead and have a newage “Let’s redefine science so that Astrology is science, therefore so is ID!” woo talk about a scientist who opposes sloppiness.

    Sickening.

  13. #13 ERV
    May 3, 2007

    I KNEW this would happen! I fucking KNEW it! Wheres my Randi prize?

    **VOMIT**

  14. #14 Bryson Brown
    May 3, 2007

    Positively bizarre. Would Time have (say) Rush Limbaugh write a piece on Noam Chomsky? Behe’s comments are surprisingly restrained, though the editors may well have insisted on that: “If you want a mainstream profile, you have to pretend respect for your opponents…” It’s quite a contrast with the review of Climbing Mount Improbable that Behe wrote for the Globe and Mail in Canada, which was a very silly piece of axe-grinding. It would be nice if this were a turning point for Behe, and he really is adopting a more respectful and honest approach to the issues. But I’m not optimistic.

  15. #15 Christian Burnham
    May 3, 2007

    From the department of low expectations:

    ‘Time’ is not a serious journal. It’s a supermarket tabloid that markets itself to the lower brow of the middle class.

    It occasionally manages to produce a good article as if by accident, but that’s the exception these days.

    Remember, this is the magazine that chose ‘you’ to be the most important person of 2006. Can they get any worse? (Yes.)

  16. #16 Stanton
    May 3, 2007

    Look on the bright side, at least they didn’t get William Dembski, or worse yet, Jonathan Wells, to write it.

  17. #17 David Marjanovi?
    May 3, 2007

    2. Stephen Colbert (ok hes funny but most influential in the world?)

    Marginal name-recognition outside the USA for his speech. “This administration isn’t sinking, this administration is soaring! If anything, they’re rearranging deck chairs on the Hindenburg!”

  18. #18 quork
    May 3, 2007

    I wonder why they didn’t get Jeanne Dixon to write the profile of Neil deGrasse Tyson?

    Perhaps they should have had David Duke write up Oprah Winfrey. Or Dick Cheney write up Al Gore.

    Positively bizarre. Would Time have (say) Rush Limbaugh write a piece on Noam Chomsky?

    I’ll bet there’s a Time editor refreshing this thread right now, taking notes…

  19. #19 Christian Burnham
    May 3, 2007

    This is embarrassing…

    From Nelson Mandela:

    Oprah Winfrey’s own story is an inspiration because she overcame almost every obstacle that a person might face. She is an icon to people all over the world because of her commitment to help those who have faced similar obstacles. We therefore salute a friend and a role model.

    You know- I stop worrying about someone’s struggle in this cruel and unjust world after they’ve made their first billion dollars. Is that wrong of me?

  20. #20 Hank Roberts
    May 3, 2007

    Do you suppose that was a threat by the Vatican? I don’t recall their terrorist actions against comedians during the 1970s. Didn’t the Inquisition end earlier?

  21. #21 Steve_C (Secular Elitist) FCD
    May 3, 2007

    That would be like having Steve Balmer write the profile for Steve Jobs.

  22. #22 Glen Davidson
    May 3, 2007

    The last paragraph is the worst. The “pearl of great price” refers in the Gospels to a religious prize, hence Behe is using Biblical language to smear Dawkins’ rejection of religion as if it were a religious conversion to “Darwinism”. The slightly later reference from Revelation (it is better to be hot or cold than lukewarm) indicates that this “pearl of great price” reference is not just an odd appropriation of religious symbolism with no further religious meaning.

    Then too, there is no “debate” to be “invigorated”. Neither religion nor ID has any traction in any intellectually honest debate. Intelligent theists know this, and simply claim to “have faith”, whatever that means.

    Behe’s smirk that Dawkins isn’t making the case on the “data” is his standard misdirection. ID and religion fall, by the usual intellectual standards, on their lack of any reasonable evidence, and one does not have to argue the case against them based upon “atheism” or upon “evolution” (actually, one may use evolution against ID, but the fundamental fault of ID is not that evolution works so well, but that ID doesn’t explain anything at all). He’s whining about the “lack of data” again, as he does in evolution, while ignoring the fact that what we’re arguing foremost is that explanations are needed rather than the resort to God, and in fact we have many explanation which Behe ignores in order to focus on the gaps in our knowledge.

    Behe frames Dawkins as though his skeptical approach were the one based upon “premises” or prejudices, when Dawkins’ primary argument against Behe’s apologetics is the fact that religion insists that their premises and prejudices be privileged over the (ideally) unprejudiced skeptical approach. Time managed thereby to twist the issues into the exact opposite of Dawkins’ positions and statements (as well as those of any intellectually honest and knowledgeable person), and allowed Behe to judge Dawkins according to Biblical “principles”. I don’t think I’ve seen a worse case of yellow journalism.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

  23. #23 #~%^
    May 3, 2007

    Behe has a new book coming out, The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism. You’ll be seeing his byline in many places in the weeks and months ahead, his voice on the radio, etc. It’s capitalism.

  24. #24 jk
    May 3, 2007

    I just read their brief profile on Stephen Colbert. I particularly liked this little comment:

    “His performance at the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner stirred controversy, raising concerns over the biased nature of his satire.”

    Sad.

  25. #25 joel
    May 3, 2007

    The Bible encourages us not to be hot or cold, not lukewarm…

    Is this the new IDist justification for their never-ending fascination with their (mis)reading of Newton’s 2nd Law of Thermodynamics?

    That we don’t fall into thermal equilibrium with our environment because God is encouraging us to be either hot or cold but never lukewarm?!?

    And even if he’s really just talking about having firm, as opposed to wishy-washy, opinions, this is an odd statement for Behe to make. From what I recall, he acknowledges a great many of the tenets of neo-Darwinism but manages to accomodate God by giving him a small place in the design of bacterial locomotion. That level of fine flagellum-splitting seems mighty tepid to me. If you’re going to argue for special creation, at least argue big like the young-earthers. You won’t be any more correct, but at least no one will accuse you of being lukewarm in your faith.

  26. #26 HPLC_Sean
    May 3, 2007

    That’s just awful! How can a self-serving QUACK, stripped of any credibility in a court of law for wanting to disseminate bullshit to our children in school, be commissioned to write the profile for a respected and prolific Oxford scientist and educator? That’s just utter incompetence. It’s more proof of the demise of respectable journalism.

  27. #27 dzd
    May 3, 2007

    Man, they had better let Hitchens write the Pope’s obituary to make up for this.

  28. #28 Pygmy Loris
    May 3, 2007

    shd,

    Ooops…man I’m having a hard time with sarcasm lately….it’s all the grading. Let me just say, reading freshman/sophmore papers is pure torture….especially since they don’t listen to a word I say about how to write. One of my students came up to me after I handed back the last paper that required scholarly sources and asked why wikipedia wasn’t a scholarly source. This came after I spent an entire class period talking about appropriate sources and what makes a source scholarly and mentioning that wikipedia specifically, but also websites in general, was not an appropriate source for this paper. Makes me want to find a convenient bucket to throw up in.

  29. #29 Blake Stacey
    May 3, 2007

    Greg Laden:

    I fully intend to send a letter, but it’ll take me a while to turn my initial rant into something more potent and more concise. Tomorrow morning, at the latest.

  30. #30 frog
    May 3, 2007

    They also had Gingrich write up Pelosi’s bit. It seems to be a method to this madness – anyone that would be “controversial” to put on the list, they let their enemies write up their blurb.

    At least they seem to have forgotten young Bush on the list.

    Remember, the media believe that their are two sides to every story – that’s what they call objectivity. Balancing Newton with some flat-earther who lives in a Kansas trailer.

  31. #31 Willo the Wisp
    May 3, 2007

    …And the caricature is shit too.

  32. #32 Dustin
    May 3, 2007

    Judas H. Christ. Did they have Behe design their website, too? I can’t find a thing on that piece of crap.

    After hearing about the Dawkins thing, I’m surprised they didn’t grab a string theorist to write Neil deGrasse Tyson’s profile, or Bjørn Lomborg to write up a profile for Al Gore.

    (Not surprisingly, Bjørn Lomborg’s smarmy ass was on the top 100 list 3 years ago).

  33. #33 andyo
    May 3, 2007

    [...]
    Posted by: Doc Bill | May 3, 2007 07:11 PM
    Well, that negates what I thought. Good that they edited it, but they shouldn’t have asked him in the first place.

  34. #34 Dustin
    May 3, 2007

    One of them 90% of it had the author praising himself and was writting in the most self promoting manner instead of being about the person the article was supposedly about.

    Would you expect anything less from a 24-year old who still thinks that “gamer” is a demographic? When the population crisis comes, they’re the first ones going in the Soylent Green vat.

  35. #35 Troff
    May 3, 2007

    Glen D and Doc Bill…

    … (as disgusting as it sounds,) go read the COMMENTS at the UD page. They’re almost as unhappy as we are.

    Not to mention there’s some of the dumbest cherry-picking in a couple of the comments which basically manufacture points out of nothing to make Dawkins look autocontradictory.

  36. #36 frog
    May 3, 2007

    By the way, is Fucking Behe’s legal middle name?
    Or just a nickname he’s taken recently, like Hector “The Man” Camacho?

    Just curious!

  37. #37 Keith Douglas
    May 4, 2007

    I was actually surprised at how vapid and content-free the piece seemed.

    Also, I found it interesting that it states that Behe as having a forthcoming book. Oh, boy, we can hardly wait …

  38. #38 Blake Stacey
    May 4, 2007

    Ron Sullivan revised this:

    “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”

    to this —

    Revised Standard Version: “You will not be eaten first.”

    Excellent.

    As for Behe’s new book, the Amazon page< already has laudatory quotes for that piece of trash. Orac will not be pleased, but two of the four come from M.D.s. The fourth comes from "Dr. Philip Skell, Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, at Pennsylvania State University, and member of the National Academy of Sciences" — a byline which made me go “WTF?” for sure. Skell has raised eyebrows before; see, e.g., this post at the Panda’s Thumb.

  39. #39 Dave
    May 7, 2007

    To be fair to Behe, looks like Time edited his article heavily and added some of the more contentious phrases.

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/05/time_what_michael_behe_actuall.html

    I think getting him to write it in the first place is pretty offensive, but I also think based on this display it is Time that comes off (astonishingly) looking like more of an ass than Behe.