Pharyngula

Behe gets reamed again

The middle-aged man named Ian Musgrave has replied to the grey-haired man Michael Behe in response to his recent condescending dismissal of the young woman Abbie Smith (don’t these irrelevant signifiers of age, sex, and status add so much to our understanding of the discussion?) It’s really all about fun with viral proteins, and Behe’s failure to understand the basics of the evolution of the same. I think I’d be reluctant to refer to him as “the middle-aged biochemist Michael Behe” anymore — a biochemist should know this stuff.


Behe replies. He seems to be in a bit of a snit.

Comments

  1. #1 MartinC
    November 12, 2007

    Behe was on point of inquiry podcast this week. I haven’t listened to it yet but the link is here.
    http://libsyn.com/media/pointofinquiry/POI_2007_11_07_Michael_Behe.mp3

  2. #2 Dan
    November 12, 2007

    I have this persistent, nagging feeling that they’ll ignore the content and just treat it as “attention” or “controversy”, which are inherently good as they make ID look legitimate.

    I think it’s mitigated somewhat by the fact that it’s a relatively quiet trashing being done in blogs, however. Not to scorn the blog format, but the readers of scientific blogs do not constitute the audience ID is trying to dupe, so I think that minimizes the damage quite nicely.

  3. #3 Reginald Selkirk
    November 12, 2007

    I think I’d be reluctant to refer to him as “the middle-aged biochemist Michael Behe” anymore — a biochemist should know this stuff.

    I’ve taken to calling Behe a “former scientist.”

  4. #4 Todd
    November 12, 2007

    I heard the POI podcast and Behe either deliberately ignores the basics of science or is just so dogmatically blinded he can’t comprehend how science works. Whoever granted him a PhD ought to be ashamed. He excreted ad hominems towards the Dover judge who ruled against ID and just made one “Well, Darwinism can’t explain this…” comment after another.

    DJ Grothe is an excellent interviewer and got in a great point at the very end of the interview while discussing Behe’s stance that malaria is an example of ID. Basically he asked Behe why an intelligent designer would design such a horrible thing like malaria. Behe hemmed and hawed a bit, making some comment that its virulence may be just an emergent property of some greater scheme, to wit Grothe said something like, “So what you’re saying is it’s just God’s will?” To which Behe replied, “Yes.” This completely contradicted his earlier statement (no surprise there) that the intelligent designer isn’t necessarily God (wink wink, nudge nudge, know what I mean?).

  5. #5 CleveDan
    November 12, 2007

    “I went over all of the points I wanted to and I thought I made them clear enough so that even a former liquor control board head could understand it”–Behe on POI

    judge jones bio:
    http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/kitzmiller/jonesbio.htm

  6. #6 mojoandy
    November 12, 2007

    Stephen Colbert executed a similar Charlie Chan trap on Behe to get him to admit his Abrahamic theistic motivation.

    What a twit. Why Lehigh doesn’t figure out a way to bounce this charlatan is either an example of how Lehigh actually is a crap university, or the higher-education model of tenure is horribly broken in the U.S.

  7. #7 Blake Stacey
    November 12, 2007

    By Poseidon’s beard, the list is getting long!

  8. #8 Physicalist
    November 12, 2007

    Lehigh actually is a crap university, or the higher-education model of tenure is horribly broken in the U.S.

    I disagree. Tenure is good precisely because it allows people to pursue ideas that most of the field thinks are crazy. The price we pay is that we protect fools like Behe, but it’s worth it to support real freedom of research.

    The problem with tenure (from my perspective) is that it keeps faculty around who are unproductive and not doing a fair share of the work — so the (untenured) junior faculty end up buried. Now I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Behe is also to be faulted on this front; he’s pretty clearly given up on doing real science.

    But we should applaud, not condemn, Lehigh for respecting tenure and letting the wacko stay in the department.

  9. #9 ben
    November 12, 2007

    I’ve taken to calling Behe a “former scientist.”

    By his standards you should amend that to “middle-aged male former scientist,” just in case anyone wants to prejudge his ideas according to his gender and age, as he does with ERV.

  10. #10 firemancarl
    November 12, 2007

    I dunno if you guys have seen Behes blog, but I saw the link from ERVs blog and Behe said that he will reply “next week” what a pussy. He can reply right away? I wonder if he is looking for an “out” or if he’s just gonna slander Musgrave?

  11. #11 Kseniya
    November 12, 2007

    Perhaps all replies to Behe should be put in terms that even a former kindergartener could understand.

    I agree with the Physicalist on the subject of tenure. Calling for Lehigh to break tenure and give Behe the axe isn’t too far off from Tom Delay and other Republicans of his ilk arbitrarily calling for accountability for (and the implication of action against) federal judges. Breaking down protective systems rather than fixing their real flaws (see: unproductive faculty complaint) opens the door to all kinds of witch-hunting.

  12. #12 Jonty
    November 12, 2007

    Can someone please explain PZ’s joke about the “irrelevant signifiers of age, sex, and status”? It seems very funny, but I don’t get the reference.

  13. #13 Ryan F Stello
    November 12, 2007

    Re: Jonty at #12,

    Because all of them should be irrelevant to Ms. Smith’s argument, but all three were used by Behe in some derogatory sense.

    At least, that’s my take.

  14. #14 Physicalist
    November 12, 2007

    @ Jonty:

    See ERV’s response to Behe’s dismissive reply to her shredding of his account of HIV (and ERV’s earlier posts). Behe thought he could gain some quick points by emphasizing on his critic’s academic status, gender, and tone — I don’t think he did himself any favors.

  15. #15 Stevie_C
    November 12, 2007

    Behe thought is was relevant when critcizing a yourg female AIDS researcher…

    She posted a reply that eviscerated the middle-aged former scientist.

  16. #16 Blake Stacey
    November 12, 2007

    Speaking of creationists and reaming, John Scalzi has written up his visit to the Creation Museum.

  17. #17 Pete
    November 12, 2007

    I predict Behe will read this response and admit he is wrong, that the body of writing he’s made his name on is all invalid, that he’s been deluded for years, and from now on he’s going to give up ID and get back to real science.

    Seriously, good on Musgrave for really nailing Behe to his own arguments.

  18. #18 CleveDan
    November 12, 2007

    I predict Behe will say ERV can go “soak her head”

    oh look, he already did:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/A3DGRQ0IO7KYQ2

  19. #19 Michael J
    November 12, 2007

    Behe is making a lot of replies on his Amazon blog. This doesn’t to me seem to be a normal. Creationists normally only give a single reply to show that they have answered their critics. I wonder if the questioning of his qualifications is starting to actually hurt. He has gone from being a working biochemist with some wacky ideas (there are plenty of those who still get respect for the good work they have done) to a position where people are starting to refuse to call him a scientist.

  20. #20 Timcol
    November 12, 2007

    The discussion on Point of Inquiry between DJ and Behe on maleria was SO special, it deserves a transcript:

    DJ: Last question, Professor Behee, em, you’re not a theologian, but we do talk about religion a lot on the show, so I want to talk with you to finish up about some of the, I think, theological implications of what you’re saying in the Edge of Evolution. You suggest near the end that malaria, which kills millions of people each year is intelligently designed, that evolution can’t account for malaria?

    BH: Right

    DJ: So, do you expect the pages of a science journal to discuss who designed malaria or even to get into, you know, what kind of ethics that this designer must have, if it’s killing so many innocent people. These are theological implications to your thesis in other words, that, that’s the point I’m making

    BH: Yeah, well, if they’re theological implications then they should be discussed in theology journals. But, you know, a lot of scientific theories have extra scientific implications – you know, Einstein’s theory of relativity, er, Darwin’s theory of evolution…emm… the big bang theory, em, so err…

    DJ: So do you want to hazard a guess what kind of ethics does this intelligent designer have if he designed malaria rather than it evolving through some impersonal natural selection of random mutations

    BH: Well, I, I think…er, that, er, I think, well, I’m a Roman Catholic, I think it’s completely consistent, er, with a benign God, with a be-benign Designer…one can, if er,if, malaria parasites are doing, you know, beneficial things, in the, you know, cycle of, of, of of nature, in the biosphere, er, then one could always argue that the sickness that inflicts humans is an unattended side product of something that is, er, when you look at the big picture , er, good

    DJ: In other words, it’s all part of God’s plan

    BH: Yea, that’s right

    DJ: Er, Professor {SNICKER] on that note, thanks so much for joining me on Point of Inquiry, I enjoyed the back and forth

    BH: OK, same here, nice to talk with yer

  21. #21 wnelson
    November 12, 2007

    From Smith (on Behe):

    You’ve got a litter of kids, and I admit I would find the $20K you get for selling out rather tempting in todays funding climate. Do you just like how you get treated by your followers? Or do you like how you get treated by your opponents, in a Mel Gibson sort of way? Or is your involvement in this whole thing a crazy idea that got out of hand, and you don’t really mean any of it, you don’t really believe any of it, and youre throwing softballs to grad students because you want to get ‘caught’ and give up the whole charade?

    Um, guys, the first rule of argument is “don’t lose your temper.” But then again, if self-parody is the goal, you’ve already achieved it.

    Genius!

  22. #22 David Marjanovi?, OM
    November 12, 2007

    Hello, wnelson! Long time no see! <smile> <wave> Here’s a fish for you.

    (Do trolls eat fish?)

  23. #23 David Marjanovi?, OM
    November 12, 2007

    Hello, wnelson! Long time no see! <smile> <wave> Here’s a fish for you.

    (Do trolls eat fish?)

  24. #24 Michael J
    November 12, 2007

    wnelson

    Anger? I get the impression that ERV as are most of us are thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

  25. #25 J Myers
    November 12, 2007

    Willie Nelson smokes hash, ‘shrooms, and comments on Pharyngula?

  26. #26 Timcol
    November 12, 2007

    Wnelson – if you look at the transcript from Behe’s interview with DJ Grothe, he’s doing quite a fine job self-paradoy all without any of our help (or is it self-immolation?) No wonder DJ couldn’t resist that little snicker at the end of the interview…

  27. #27 386sx
    November 12, 2007

    Behe hemmed and hawed a bit, making some comment that its virulence may be just an emergent property of some greater scheme, to wit Grothe said something like, “So what you’re saying is it’s just God’s will?”

    Behe said in some debate somewhere that he thinks things like that are a result of “The Fall” (of course). Or that’s what he said. Who know whether to believe him (of course.)

  28. #28 gary
    November 12, 2007

    I listened to the entire podcast and was fascinated by it. Behe actually seems to be sincere. If he is just pulling a con, then he is absolutely one of the best I have ever heard.

    My bet is that he is just caught up in that most human of traps: Believing something just because he wants to believe it. Smarter people than Behe fall into that trap.

  29. #29 other bill
    November 12, 2007

    This may be naive, but during the interview, he kept talking on about not seeing evidence . DJ never called him on it. Has he ever specified what he means?

  30. #30 timcol
    November 12, 2007

    386sx @ post 26- see post #20 for a partial transcript of what Behe actually said in the POI interview (no, I didn’t make it up, he really said it…even though it’s hard to believe)

  31. #31 BobC
    November 13, 2007

    “I heard the POI podcast and Behe either deliberately ignores the basics of science or is just so dogmatically blinded he can’t comprehend how science works.” Or maybe Behe is a professional liar like the other Disco subhumans.

  32. #32 Louise Van Court
    November 13, 2007

    In the podcast interview Behe says concerning the teaching of evolution “teach evolution and ask hard questions”. He also says evolution should be taught “warts and all”. I am surprised more scientists don’t agree with those statements.

  33. #33 AlanWCan
    November 13, 2007

    How about we just ask this creep ‘so do you think this id stuff should be included in the curricula at the school your kids go to instead of those state schools everyone else’s kids go to? Hmmmmmm….?’ Why pull punches?

  34. #34 truth machine
    November 13, 2007

    Um, guys, the first rule of argument is “don’t lose your temper.”

    You should tell Behe, who wrote

    Dear Dr. Musgrave,

    I find your letter disingenuous. The tone of Abbie Smith’s post was insulting, jut-jawed, and puerile:

    […]

    As far as I’m concerned, if a complete stranger sends me a message with a sneering tone like that, she can go soak her head.

    Sadly for Behe, his anger leaves her criticisms unrefuted.

    One of the very basic prerequisites for education is to be able to engage in civil discourse, especially with people whose views are different from your own.

    Even more basic is a commitment to intellectual honesty; without that, “civil discourse” is just gum flapping.

  35. #35 truth machine
    November 13, 2007

    In the podcast interview Behe says concerning the teaching of evolution “teach evolution and ask hard questions”. He also says evolution should be taught “warts and all”. I am surprised more scientists don’t agree with those statements.

    What scientist doesn’t agree? What hard question isn’t asked? What wart isn’t taught?

    If some flat-earther made the same sort of statements about geography, would you make the same foolish charge against scientists? Or would you entertain the possibility that perhaps the flat earther’s “hard questions” and “warts” are bogus?

  36. #36 firemancarl
    November 13, 2007

    Well, I see Behe still quote mines and picks and chooses what he’ll argue against. Ironic that he was the one who started the name calling and he gets upset that she retaliates.

  37. #37 David Marjanovi?, OM
    November 13, 2007

    In the podcast interview Behe says concerning the teaching of evolution “teach evolution and ask hard questions”. He also says evolution should be taught “warts and all”. I am surprised more scientists don’t agree with those statements.

    That’s simple. If the theory of evolution had any warts, we would agree.

  38. #38 David Marjanovi?, OM
    November 13, 2007

    In the podcast interview Behe says concerning the teaching of evolution “teach evolution and ask hard questions”. He also says evolution should be taught “warts and all”. I am surprised more scientists don’t agree with those statements.

    That’s simple. If the theory of evolution had any warts, we would agree.

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