Pharyngula

Keeping up with Behe

While we’re waiting for the Panda’s Thumb server to come back up, with some new material on Behe’s new book, I’ll recommend Blake Stacey’s dissection of the malaria mutants. This little fable that Behe summarized about the frequency of chloroquine-resistant mutations in the malaria parasite is the centerpiece of his book, and the important odds of 1 in 1020 was the yardstick by which he measured evolution — it was the magic number, the limit to evolution, the likelihood that a fairly simple set of mutations could occur … and the whole story is bogus. The book has been out for only about a week and the whole thing is just crumbling to pieces already.

Not that it will matter in the slightest, of course. The Edge of Evolution isn’t a science book, it’s a propaganda piece — and the big lies are just fine for that purpose.

Comments

  1. #1 Marcus Ranum
    June 7, 2007

    Lee – thanks for doing the math. :) What you just presented is a perfect example of Dawkins’ point that we humans aren’t equipped to effectively think about very long odds and long periods of time.

    mjr.

    (PS – someone should cross check your assumptions – no offense – just for skepticism’s sake)

  2. #2 Blake Stacey, OM
    June 7, 2007

    Thanks for the link!

    Let me emphasize that I am not a biologist by training, but rather a dilettante from the physics department. The clarifications already offered in the comments have been extremely interesting.

  3. #3 Blake Stacey, OM
    June 7, 2007

    Fatboy:

    Yeah, the cover art is not bad, but it could be improved. ;-)

  4. #4 Blake Stacey, OM
    June 8, 2007

    I will add Sean B. Carroll’s review to my list forthwith.

    You know, I’m starting to get a little irritated that nobody at Uncommon Descent has complained about me. My various blag posts show up in the first page of various Google searches (“edge of evolution review”, and so forth), I’ve been linked from Pharyngula, my tone is uncivil and my diatribes both long and well-referenced. Whom do I have to bite to get a little attention around here? When will DaveScot say that it is beneath his dignity to rebut me?

    (sings, to the tune of the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”)

    Don’t — don’t you fisk me
    You know that your cognition skills are really quite pathetic!
    Don’t — don’t you fisk me
    I’ll trump you on all topics mathematic and genetic!

    Don’t you fisk me, baby. . .
    Don’t you fisk me, oh-o-oah!

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