Pharyngula

Way, way back on 16 July, I got a letter from the Discovery Institute.

Dear Dr. Myers:

I am writing to ask if you have plans to review Dr. Stephen C. Meyer’s new book Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (HarperOne). I would be happy to ask Dr. Meyer’s publisher to send you a review copy.

I know you are busy but if you can get back to me about this, including any thoughts or comments you may have, I will grateful.

Sincerely,

Janet Oberembt
Assistant to Dr. Meyer
Discovery Institute

Oh, great, I thought — I know what kind of drivel Meyer was going to include in this book, just more of the same argument from ignorance and ‘ooh, isn’t it complicated’. I feel obligated to keep up with the creationist literature, though, and you never know — maybe someday they’ll come up with an original idea. So I replied, said yes, thank you, and gave Ms Oberembt my address. She wrote back promptly.

Thank you and I’ll send the request by email this evening.

No review copy ever arrived.

It’s going on 6 months. I’ve talked to a few other creationist critics who also received the offer of a review copy — no one has gotten one. How interesting. I almost certaintly would have bought a copy when it first came out, but held off because I thought one would be arriving in the mail any time now. They haven’t got any novel arguments for their case, but at least they’ve come up with new ways to temporarily stall their critics.

This is just like the movie studios, when they’ve got a clunker of a film on their hands: don’t let the reviewers get sight of it, make sure you’ve got only friendly audiences to see pre-screenings, and then, of course, push only positive reviews.

Yes, the Discovery Institute is also doing that: the creationists are running a push campaign to jack up the positive reviews of the book on Amazon. That’s an old and familiar trick.

I suppose I’ll have to read that 600 page pile of slop sometime…maybe in January. I’m going to be giving a whole series of talks on evolution and creationism at the end of that month, and maybe I’ll be able to squeeze in a section on just Meyer.

Comments

  1. #1 Sven DiMilo
    December 11, 2009

    No worries.
    J*hn Kw*k is on the job.

  2. #2 Glen Davidson
    December 11, 2009

    But…Casey Luskin wants serious criticisms of Meyer’s book:

    As an ID proponent myself, I feel it would be great to see some serious critiques of Meyer.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2009/11/17/time-to-refute-stephen-meyer/

    It must just be an honest mistake.

    Strike that, as they point out, accident isn’t responsible for anything, or much of anything at least. Call it design, and apparently, none too honest.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  3. #3 lordshipmayhem
    December 11, 2009

    Maybe the delay is caused not by accident but by unintelligent design?

  4. #4 mikko.sandt
    December 11, 2009

    Whatever happened to paying lip service to creationism, at least in situations where “debate” is intended to provide legitimacy to creationists’ theories?

  5. #5 Cory Meyer
    December 11, 2009

    How dare the weasel put my last name to shame.

  6. #6 Glen Davidson
    December 11, 2009

    Don’t worry, what the positive reviews lack in quality, they make up for in quantity. This is what the DI sent out to their minions, as reported at Panda’s Thumb:

    Stephen Meyer?s Signature in the Cell is gaining momentum, and now the Darwinists [sic] are fighting back. After Dr. Meyer and Dr. Sternberg trounced Darwinists [sic] Michael Shermer and Donald Prothero in last week?s debate, desperate Darwinists [sic] are lashing out at Dr. Meyer, trashing his book at Amazon.com. They can?t afford for more people to be exposed to the arguments that Meyer is making, so they have resorted to trying to ruin the book?s reputation. If you have read Signature in the Cell, we need your help! Please write a review at Amazon.com (they need not be long, just honest). This is a book that has earned its place in the top 10 list of bestselling science books at Amazon, the book that made the Times Literary Supplement?s Top Books of 2009, and an author who was named ?Daniel of the Year? for his work. Please take a moment and defend Dr. Meyer and his groundbreaking book.

    A host of reviews by idiots is appearing at Amazon. Much better than having someone knowledgeable review Meyer’s second-rate tripe.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  7. #7 Sven DiMilo
    December 11, 2009

    ?Daniel of the Year?

    All I can think of is this.

  8. #8 Josh
    December 11, 2009

    All I can think of is this.

    Fuck. That’s going to be with me all night now.

  9. #9 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawkTXcmHCsZdXXi9qgmbWsPqngnNeeDaLmY
    December 11, 2009

    Daniel? I thought they misspelled Spaniel.

  10. #10 Peter G.
    December 11, 2009

    It just goes to show you that you can fool some of the scientists some of the time. Me, I’d ask the university library to get their mitts on it. Buy it? No way.

  11. #11 MadScientist
    December 11, 2009

    @sven: What’s the matter – afraid to write the devil’s name because he might appear? Kwok! Kwok! Kwok! There you go – just like a duck with a speech defect. Now let’s see if that summons him.

  12. #12 'Tis Himself, OM
    December 11, 2009

    If you say “Kw*k” three times then you will have visions of a famous high school which nobody has ever heard of.

  13. #13 WowbaggerOM
    December 11, 2009

    I’m glad Kwok is writing negative things about it, but if I have to read the phrase ‘mendacious intellectual pornography’ one more time I’m going to throw up.

    Change the record, dude!

  14. #14 Brownian, OM
    December 11, 2009

    @MadScientist:

    My friend Alyssa’s brother Damien played on the same soccer team as a guy who dated the girl in the legend who said “John Kwok” five times in the mirror in a dark room and was found the next day with nearly two less friends on Facebook and clutching a copy of the Stuyvesant High School admissions exam.

    I don’t really believe in that stuff, but y’know, why take the chance?

  15. #15 destlund
    December 11, 2009

    PZ, you know if they actually sent you a review copy, and you, err, reviewed it, they would demand that you take the review down because your quotes were an infringement of copyright. Isn’t that what they always do when they get a good refuting?

  16. #16 Armand K.
    December 11, 2009

    So you called their bluff, PZ, and they folded. What a surprise!

    Of course, you and the others that were requested to review the book, should insist. Most certainly, by some unfortunate series of odd coincidences, your responses got lost in the mail. Poor assistant is probably getting desperate thinking Meyer will blame her and use it as an excuse to show her the door. Show some christian compassion to the poor fellows, if only to show you’re a less imoral person than your hate-filled blog posts, motivated by your deep fear of God’s wrath, show you to be.

    (I’ve got it right… Right?)

  17. #17 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    December 11, 2009

    they would demand that you take the review down because your quotes were an infringement of copyright. Isn’t that what they always do when they get a good refuting?

    Ah, but small quotes in reviews are considered fair use, so they really can’t do that. They could try, but they would loose any court case.

  18. #18 destlund
    December 11, 2009

    Oh I didn’t mean they would succeed in getting PZ to take it down; they would just complain and fume and then call him horribly unfair and unkind and rude and mean and hold their breath and stomp their feet. You know how they do.

  19. #19 sidheag
    December 11, 2009

    Could be that this assistant genuinely did send the publisher a request to send you a review copy, PZ, but someone at the publisher had more sense!

  20. #20 Eetto
    December 11, 2009

    Sadly Thomas Nagel has disgraced himself by endorsing this book.
    http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2009/12/nagels-nonreply.html

  21. #21 speedweasel
    December 11, 2009

    How dare the weasel put my last name to shame.

    How dare you, sir! You impugn the good name of weasels everywhere. :)

  22. #22 Caine
    December 11, 2009

    Hahahaha. I’m sure you’ll get The Excuse&trade in short order. It will be interesting to see who or what they blame the missing books on.

  23. #23 David Marjanovi?
    December 11, 2009

    “Assistant to Dr. Meyer”… the Disinformation Institute must be filthy rich. With money oozing out of the front door. The times when university professors had their own secretaries are long gone!

    Speaking of money ? Brownian, someone should pay you for comment 14.

    (…Now look at that. A comment by me without any quotes. Perhaps the Rapture really is coming this time.)

  24. #24 Strangest brew
    December 11, 2009

    What a shocker….the disco tute forgetting to get its rancid sticky stench encrusted droppings perused by the light of rationalism!

    Actually…not really!

  25. #25 MAJeff, OM
    December 11, 2009

    Me, I’d ask the university library to get their mitts on it.

    ILL it. Do NOT ask them to purchase it.

  26. #26 skeptical scientist
    December 11, 2009

    Did you ask Janet what was up? If so, what did she say?

  27. #27 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    December 11, 2009

    ILL it. Do NOT ask them to purchase it.

    Yep, Liberty *#$%&@ can send it to scholars all over the US. Who never recommend purchase…

  28. #28 nastasie
    December 11, 2009

    @Eetto #20

    *facepalm*

    I wonder if there’s something that it is like to be Thomas Nagel.

  29. #29 Apolipoprotein E
    December 11, 2009

    Forgive me for asking, but who is this Kwok that you speak of there?

  30. #30 'Tis Himself, OM
    December 11, 2009

    I’m sure that the Discovery Institute and its crack team of creotards sent a review copy of Meyers’ treatise to Myers. The tome is probably sitting in a UPS warehouse in Biloxi, Mississippi, gathering dust, while UPS tries to figure out where Minnesota is.

  31. #31 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    December 11, 2009

    The tome is probably sitting in a UPS warehouse in Biloxi, Mississippi, gathering dust, while UPS tries to figure out where Minnesota is.

    Isn’t Minnesota in (*points*) that direction from me…

  32. #32 reindeerboy386sx
    December 11, 2009

    One star down, three more to go!

  33. #33 'Tis Himself, OM
    December 11, 2009

    Forgive me for asking, but who is this Kwok that you speak of there?

    We’ll forgive you but you have to give us all cameras first.

  34. #35 Aquaria
    December 11, 2009

    Tis:

    If PZ’s copy is in a warehouse in Biloxi, the mold/mildew would get to it before the dust does. It seemed like a layer of condensation covered everything when I lived there.

    That is, if any warehouses are left in Biloxi. Katrina did a lot of damage there. Most of the places where I had fond memories are gone, baby, gone.

  35. #36 MosesZD
    December 11, 2009

    Actually, if a studio has a clunker, they even write sample reviews for the press kit. A lazy reviewer will even use them on occasion. It’s really funny when two lazy reviewers use the same review.

  36. #37 'Tis Himself, OM
    December 11, 2009

    Sven,

    Thanks for the link to one of the best bits of parody written on this blog.

    It’s the feel-vaguely-exasperated book of the summer!

  37. #38 'Tis Himself, OM
    December 11, 2009

    That is, if any warehouses are left in Biloxi. Katrina did a lot of damage there.

    I’m sure Biloxi is starting to recover from Katerina. It’s not like we were talking about Gulfport or Bay St. Louis.

  38. #39 sqlrob
    December 11, 2009

    Ah, but small quotes in reviews are considered fair use, so they really can’t do that. They could try, but they would loose any court case.

    Yeah, they would lose. But it would cost PZ time and money. Fair use is only an affirmative defense.

  39. #40 afar1
    December 11, 2009

    ? Now, if they want to keep looking for your magic monkeys, that’s fine. But do not lie and claim that “evolution is a fact of science” when it is no such thing and do not lie and claim that there is a “mountain of evidence” when that is not true. And do not lie and claim that evolution makes predictions based on the evidence, when it does the reverse. It is a belief and all data is interpreted within that belief, even though there is no support for it. And do not lie and claim that Intelligent Design does not make scientific predictions, when it does and the support for them is there. And do not lie and claim that Darwin based his conclusions on the evidence, when Darwin himself said that he didn’t have it and hoped that it would one day be found. Intelligent Design predicts that if ID is true, then we should see sudden appearance of various kinds and that is what we see. Sudden appearance with no evolution into anything else, other than what it appeared as, with some variations (variety of canidae, for example). Their own people tell you that.

  40. #41 afar1
    December 11, 2009

    ? All the alleged transitional fossils, that were so dear to the hearts of evolutionists a generation ago, are now an embarrassment to them. Breaks my heart. Archaeopteryx is now considered only a bird, not an intermediate fossil. The famous horse series that is still found in some textbooks and museums has been “discarded” and is considered a “phantom” and “illusion” because it is not proof of evolution. In fact, the first horse in the series is no longer thought to be a horse! And when a horse can’t be counted on being a horse then we’ve got trouble. Science means “to know” and “systematized knowledge derived from observation, study, etc.” It is based on observation and experimentation. Evolutionists don’t “know” anything about man’s origins. They guess, suppose, etc. but they don’t “know.” Honest scientists have become weary and embarrassed at the confusing, convoluted and contradictory claptrap that often passes as science. They have watched their colleagues rushing to protect Darwin rather than putting him to rigorous tests. World famous scientist, G. G. Simpson stated, “It is inherent in any definition of science that statements that cannot be checked by observation are not about anything…or at the very best, they are not science.”
    ? Surely it is not necessary for me to remind college professors that Piltdown Man was a total fraud and Nebraska Man turned out to be a pig, not an ape man! And in recent years we have discovered that Neanderthal Man was simply a man with rickets and arthritis, not the much desired “ape man.” Need I go on? The truth is that only a fool says evolution is a fact compared to gravity, and to equate scientific creationists with flat earthers as many evolutionists do is outrageous irresponsibility.
    ? Whale – For example, it claims “legged whales”. There is no such thing as vestigial legs in whales and anyone who tells you that, is either lying, or is ignorant of their whale anatomy and the question remains, for how long will you fools use outdated information, that has been refuted time and time again? You obviously do not know that this bone is always found in the same gender of whale and not in both genders.
    Why? That bone is not a vestigial leg. Muscles attach to that bone and to be polite and avoid vulgarity, it is used in the reproductive process of whales. I.e., No bone, no baby whales. So what did they do before? They walked, but couldn’t reproduce and yet, they somehow evolved?

  41. #42 destlund
    December 11, 2009

    Oh, dear, where do we begin. Very long rant there, afar1. And painfully stupid.

  42. #43 Caine
    December 11, 2009

    Surely it is not necessary for me to remind college professors that Piltdown Man was a total fraud

    That you, Pilty?

  43. #44 Gyeong Hwa Pak, the Pikachu of Anthropology
    December 11, 2009

    when it does and the support for them is there

    That’s a complete lie. The biggist claim that intellegent design make is that there is a designer. That claim has absolutely no merit in science.

  44. #45 destlund
    December 11, 2009

    Let’s leave aside the fact that every single point there is either a lie, a misattribution, or a disproven claim. You posted one thing that caught my eye:

    And do not lie and claim that Intelligent Design does not make scientific predictions, when it does and the support for them is there.

    Present your evidence. And then publish. You don’t need us to pick it apart if it’s verifiable/falsifiable.

  45. #46 Gyeong Hwa Pak, the Pikachu of Anthropology
    December 11, 2009

    afar1 doesn’t seems to realize that we have found more than one fossil of neanderthals and other pre-humans. The particular case of the neanderthal that he speaks of was one with rickets and bone problem, but other examples of neanderthals have been found since then. He’s also making the big assumptions that we evolve from neanderthals. We didn’t. They are more like our cousins who went extinct.

  46. #47 destlund
    December 11, 2009

    For the record, when I said misattribution, I meant misappropriation.

  47. #48 yngvesjo
    December 11, 2009

    Well, I tossed in a general comment to this exercise in stupidity as well:

    “It amazes me to see that someone is still arguing for the lost case of “Intelligent Design”.
    Apparently, an organization spewing inane drivel based on religious dogma whilst dihonestly hiding behind seemingly scientific sound language has managed to regurgitate yet another piece of worthless balderdash in writing. ‘Seemingly scientific’ is the key here. The Discovery Institute and its adherents are proof that there’s no idea so f*ckwitted you cannot find someone with a PhD (or other deegree for that matter) to defend it.
    This applies in every way to “Intelligent Design” which is just creationism in a trenchcoat, awaiting a chance to expose its indecency onto innocent schoolchildren on par with other trenchcoat-wearing miscreant entities with a fetish for exposing their junk.

    It saddens me to know that perfectly good trees are mashed into pulp just in order to portray another kind of pulp.
    After all, a tree has a meaningfull function, not so with the views set forth in this special branch of intellectual indecency and bunkum.”

    Now; back to bashing homeopaths and chiropractors through filing complaints about their claims on efficacy in advertising ;D

  48. #49 Steve in Dublin
    December 11, 2009

    Please take a moment and defend Dr. Meyer and his groundbreaking book.

    Groundbreaking. As in… this book should be six feet under?

  49. #50 Kamaka
    December 11, 2009

    Afar1,

    So, what’s up? Are you making the tired old claim that “It’s all so complicated, goddidit’.

    The fossils alone prove evolution is a fact, beyond all reasonable doubt. You quote George Gaylord Simpson, but you apparently haven’t actually read his writings, or you wouldn’t write such stupid shit.

    Before you make yourself look any more idiotic, go read Dawkin’s “The Greatest Show on Earth”. Really read it.

    Right after, really read Leviticus.

  50. #51 tresmal
    December 11, 2009

    And do not lie and claim that Intelligent Design does not make scientific predictions, when it does and the support for them is there.

    Examples?

  51. #52 Steve in Dublin
    December 11, 2009

    PZ, hi,

    Thank you and I’ll send the request by email this evening.

    See how gumby is cut off there, because you only quoted a single sentence? Well, that’s because the ‘creationist’ class isn’t quite right in the stylesheet the blogmeisters have created for you. You need them to add:

    height:64px;

    to the style. Then it would look like:

    Thank you and I’ll send the request by email this evening.

    You can thank SEF for this…

  52. #53 https://me.yahoo.com/a_ray_in_dilbert_space#6e51c
    December 11, 2009

    Afar1 says, “And do not lie and claim that Intelligent Design does not make scientific predictions, when it does and the support for them is there.”

    I assert that not only does it not make any predictions, it cannot make any predictions–or would you presume to psychoanalyze your creator to the point where you can predict his whim?

  53. #54 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    December 11, 2009

    But do not lie and claim that “evolution is a fact of science”

    It is, with a million or so scientific papers to back it up.

    And do not lie and claim that Intelligent Design does not make scientific predictions,

    Not only does it not make any predictions, there is no conclusive evidence for the alleged designer. What a loser.

    And do not lie and claim that Darwin based his conclusions on the evidence, when Darwin himself said that he didn’t have it and hoped that it would one day be found.

    Darwin was right. The evidence is has been found for evolution. No evidence for an imaginary designer.

    There is no such thing as vestigial legs in whales and anyone who tells you that, is either lying, or is ignorant of their whale anatomy

    You obviously don’t for your inane, stupid, and evidenceless claim.

    And in recent years we have discovered that Neanderthal Man was simply a man with rickets and arthritis, not the much desired “ape man.” Need I go on?

    Nope, you are a liar and bullshitter. Which we already knew.

  54. #55 Sven DiMilo
    December 11, 2009

    Intelligent Design predicts that if ID is true, then we should see sudden appearance of various kinds and that is what we see.

    Wrong in every possible way.
    1) ID predicts nothing
    2) sudden appearance has nothing to do with ID
    3) “kinds” is a creationist badge
    4) that is not what we see.

  55. #56 Owlmirror
    December 11, 2009

    You need them to add:

    height:64px;

    to the style. Then it would look like:

    Noooooooooooo……. !!

    min-height:64px;

    Or nothing!

    Or else Sven’s eyes will eventually suffer squicking.

  56. #57 PZ Myers
    December 11, 2009

    It has been done. shift-reload the page to update the css.

  57. #58 destlund
    December 11, 2009

    But PZ, your comment fails to refute afar1’s arguments! It’s as though you don’t even give them credence!

  58. #59 Owlmirror
    December 11, 2009

    Muscles attach to that bone and to be polite and avoid vulgarity, it is used in the reproductive process of whales.

    Poe.

  59. #60 Owlmirror
    December 11, 2009

    Afar1 is clearly a goat on fire.

    (Googling on ["used in the reproductive process of whales"] finds that the bit about whales at least was copied and pasted from a 2005 posting on sci.skeptic, as well as having been used on a thread on a video game site where afar1 went bugfuck ¹ nuts with the creobot Gish Gallop, much like here)

    _____________________
    1: The word “bugfuck” used in honor of Harlan Ellison.

  60. #61 Owlmirror
    December 11, 2009

    Google also finds other stuff that afar1 blindly and stupidly copypasted. Feh.

    Getting back to Meyer’s book, Jason Rosenhouse pointed to a shredding of Signature in the Cell by a devout Christian biochemist.

    I wish that the review had been a little better written, but then, I also wish that presuppositionalists didn’t presuppose.

  61. #62 kiyaroru
    December 11, 2009

    Because I’ve never seen anything like this, I offer the following -ahem- theory free to all IDers.

    A quick trip to Wikipedia will show you that dozens of new species are discovered every week. Clearly the Designer is still on the job. I think this works for Creationism, too.

    Also, The Telegraph recently described Christopher Hitchens as -irascible yet strangely cuddly-. Has PZ ever been described like this?

    I did not use proper punctuation because HTML scares me.

  62. #63 Randy
    December 12, 2009

    afar1’s comments were all bullet-pointed. It’s so obvious it was a copy+paste job.

  63. #64 Owlmirror
    December 12, 2009

    This is probably unnecessary, but… SIWOTI !!

    Everything that afar1 wrote copypasted at #40 is false, and almost certainly a deliberate lie. Evolution is a science; “ID” is not. ID does not predict “sudden appearance of various kinds”; it does not predict anything at all.

    Almost everything that afar1 wrote copypasted at #41 is false, and almost certainly a deliberate lie. Even where the text is not completely false, it contains deliberate and malicious distortions.

    The part about transitional fossils is particularly and egregiously disingenuous and false:

    • Archaeopteryx is indeed a spectacular transitional organism; any fool can see that it has teeth and a long bony tail, which no living modern bird has.
    • The “horse series” has become a more detailed phylogeny of the Equidae; a bush with many seperate species rather than a straight sequence.
    • One specimen of Neanderthal was an elderly and arthritic one; many more Neanderthals specimens have been found.

    Creationism is indeed denialism on the level of flat-earthism.

    The paragraphs about whale legs contain what must be deliberate lies because they distort an actual palaentological finding; something that required the Creationist originally responsible for the distortion to selectively read about it, and then cherry-pick and basically lie about what the palaeontological text actually said.

    Many transitional whales had legs. One family in particular, Basilosauridae, had very small and reduced legs — and they are clearly legs, with a femur, knee, tibia and fibula, and toes. These knee joints of these legs were such that the legs were “snapped” into either of two positions — folded against the body, or sticking out. And the palaeontologist who discovered this hypothesized that the best explanation for these odd legs was that they functioned as copulatory guides. There is nothing suggesting that they were restricted to a single gender.

    No living whale has legs that function like this, but occasionally one is found with vestigal legs within its body. Amusingly enough, given the creobot’s pathetic lie claiming that the copulatory guides were only found on males, the best recorded incident of vestigal legs being found in a modern whale was in a female humpback.

    And this is pathetically easy to find out by actually reading up on whales and whale evolution.

    Creationists: Lying liars who lie like stupid ignorant lying rugs.

    /SIWOTI

  64. #65 Owlmirror
    December 12, 2009

    Actually, I wonder if afar1’s original source was trying to coyly and even more mendaciously claim that whale legs are all actually bacula. If so, this demonstrates even more pathetic ignorance:

    No cetacean has a baculum.

    Fucking or non-fucking creationist morons.

  65. #66 Richard Eis
    December 12, 2009

    #29 Apolipoprotein E,

    Kwok was an interesting character who got very emotional about his previous school and its denizens. He wasn’t a creationist troll (or at least he isn’t now-he currently hangs around pandasthumb and seems quite calm and happy) but did try to get his old school connections into every conversation from what i remember.

    Read this to see the level of his interestingness:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/03/john_kwok_sends_email.php

  66. #67 Josh
    December 12, 2009

    *reads #40 and #41*

    You know, I don’t think there is anything* in those two emails that isn’t just completely fucking wrong.

    *Aside from statements that acknowledge certain facts, such as the acknowledgment that Archaeopteryx does exist.

  67. #68 shonny
    December 12, 2009

    Notice that the ‘argumentum ad ignorantiam’/’wishful thinking’-crowd is out in force in the Amazon reviews of this book.
    Of course, to them there is no danger, because they are immune to this kind of stoopid, with little danger of becoming more ignorant. But to anybody with a half-intact brain reading the crap can lead to a mass-exodus of grey matter.
    Am still at a loss of how anyone can get through so many pages of so much drivel. And that is just from reading the ‘Look Inside!’ bit Amazon has got.

  68. #69 Steve in Dublin
    December 12, 2009

    Noooooooooooo……. !!

    min-height:64px;

    Or nothing!

    Or else Sven’s eyes will eventually suffer squicking.

    Owlmirror FTW! Thanks for the correction :-) It was 3AM here, after a bit too much merriment.

  69. #70 Sili
    December 12, 2009

    I’m more surprised they didn’t let you review the book.

    And then sue you for libel.

    In ENGLAND! (“dun-dun-dunnnnn” goes here)

    Does this mean they think the libel-reform campaign will be a success?

    Or perhaps the RWS™ will use this as another argument to privatise the postoffice.

  70. #71 wlrube
    December 12, 2009

    The Oberlin library lists it as available… I might have to read it, since finals week is next week and all my finals have ended up looking relatively easy. I read most of Berlinski’s latest when he came and gave a guest lecture here, but I think my brain has recovered enough for a second trip into the darkest reaches of stupid.

  71. #72 creating trons
    December 12, 2009

    afar1 – please send to me the signterific perdicktingable ID stuffing soos I can winning my our fight with teh stoopud athiests.

    *sigh*

    fucking moron.

  72. #73 Eetto
    December 12, 2009

    @Nastasie #28

    Indeed

    “What is it like to be a twat?”

  73. #74 Elf Sternberg
    December 12, 2009

    I’ve read it. I checked it out of the library and read it, because Klinghoffer challenged “intelligent design detractors” to do so.

    The first third of the book is a fairly balanced, although obviously cherry-picked, history of the ever-developing fields of biology, biochemistry, and evolutionary biology. Meyer is setting you up by showing how, the more we looked, the more “complexity” we observed until finally he gets to the cell.

    Meyer then takes a right turn and starts talking Dembski. Never mind that Dembski’s work has been thoroughly discredited, and the mathematicians on whom he relies have said clearly he has no idea what he’s talking about, and even the philosophers of science have repeatedly told him that evolution’s mechanism of exaptation is not a search function. Meyer babbles on about Dembski for three whole chapters. The major thrust of Meyer’s argument rests on the assumption that Dembski is right.

    Meyer repeats a lot of Behe’s work– again, completely ignoring the fact that Behe’s original ten examples in Darwin’s Black Box have been refuted. Meyer artfully dodges the controversy over Behe’s praise for malaria.

    Meyer throws out all of the usual suspects. He’s not so crass to do the 747-in-a-Junkyard thing, he’s more subtle than that, but between his quote mining of unfortunate biologists, his “DNA is a program” and his constant, incessant, maddening conflation of the popular meaning of “information” and the more rigorous concepts of “Shannon information”– eventually hearkening back and claiming that Dembski has discovered something that can only be called “Shannon plus” (If Only Those Fools At The Academy Would Recognize It!)– Meyer is playing an old game with surprising glibness.

    There is an universal tendency among mankind to conceive all beings like themselves, and to transfer to every object, those qualities, with which they are familiarly acquainted, and of which they are intimately conscious. We find human faces in the moon, armies in the clouds; and by a natural propensity, if not corrected by experience and reflection, ascribe malice or good- will to every thing, that hurts or pleases us. –David Hume

    The phenomenon Hume describes is known as pareidolia, “The tendency to interpret a vague stimulus as something known to the viewer.” Meyer’s book is an exercise in pareidolia: the classic “machinery” of cellular cilia, the “computer program” of DNA. The entire book is an exercise in that kind of reasoning. He’s trying to take these vague and poor analogies and make them into concrete facts.

    Signature in the Cell is best subtitled The Discovery Institutes’s Greatest Hits, and if you’re not familiar with the conversation it comes across an as erudite doorstop full of “convincing” “evidence.” Meyer relies on the fact that his audience isn’t familiar with the conversation and doesn’t realize that Dembski’s work is invalid and all of his other bad analogies are just that… bad analogies.

    Meyer finishes with two things: 10 “predictions” that intelligent design supposedly has or will handle better than evolutionary biology. They’re either handwavy or outright deceptive, such as the now standard deception from the DI that “Intelligent Design predicted that junk DNA would have a purpose, whereas Darwin could not.”

    Meyer’s last step is an absolutely bizarre piece of fiction set in a history classroom. The teacher leads off with an unquestionable set of historical precedents: “Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation,” “The United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima,” et cetera. A student argues with the teacher that learning all of this is “useless” because it has no utility: you can’t systematize the course of history and therefore learning history doesn’t do anything for you. You can’t make technology with it.

    Meyer basically claims, with no supporting evidence whatsoever, that The designer did his work in the ancient past, and isn’t doing it now. Now, the natural, regular processes of the universe are at work, and it’s fit to study them, but– according to Meyer– the evidence in the cell “proves” that an intelligent designer did do something to our cells in the ancient past. And then he makes an impassioned plea that “historical science” has a place in the curriculum and studying the “intelligent design past” is a worthwhile activity. It can’t– he admits this– lead to cures or treatments or agricultural breakthroughs or industrial bacteria. But if paleontology deserves a place in the curriculum, so does intelligent design.

    It’s bull for the same reason that the following historical “precedents” are bull: “Alexander the Great was a homosexual,” “Buddha wrestled with demons before coming to his great revelation,” “Jesus lived.” None of these can be proven; arguing about them is great material for drunken philosophizing, but studying them as fact is not fruitful. We cannot understand the past by accepting them as fact.

    Meyer has failed in his greatest wish: to make the case that Intelligent Design belongs in the classroom. His tragically bad science and his impassioned plea to elevate a dorm-room bull session to the same role as paleontology, archeology, or cosmology, make Signature in the Cell a painful read for those of us who love the universe as it is, and not as Meyer and his demon-haunted peers would wish it to be. For those who aren’t familiar with the physics or the biology, Meyer’s book is a maliciously deceptive act of pro-supernaturalism propaganda.

  74. #75 Sven DiMilo
    December 12, 2009

    Wow. Nice, Elf!

  75. #76 Owlmirror
    December 12, 2009

    nd his constant, incessant, maddening conflation of the popular meaning of “information” and the more rigorous concepts of “Shannon information”– eventually hearkening back and claiming that Dembski has discovered something that can only be called “Shannon plus” (If Only Those Fools At The Academy Would Recognize It!)

    Sounds like Randy Stimpson.

    Meyer basically claims, with no supporting evidence whatsoever, that The designer did his work in the ancient past, and isn’t doing it now.

    Sounds like the inverse of JAD.

    For those who aren’t familiar with the physics or the biology, Meyer’s book is a maliciously deceptive act of pro-supernaturalism propaganda.

    Good summary of the “ID” campaign in general.

  76. #77 raven
    December 12, 2009

    Elf Sternberg:

    and the mathematicians on whom he relies have said clearly he has no idea what he’s talking about, and even the philosophers of science have repeatedly told him that evolution’s mechanism of exaptation is not a search function.

    Great review Elf Sternberg #74. It would be great if you could post it on Amazon. Amazon is currently being creatard bombed by drooling fundie morons posting drivel. Amazing how some people just live to lie for jesus.

    I won’t give those wackos $20. The libraries will have it anyway.

    Does anyone know why evolution by exaptation is not a search function? This seems to feed into Dembski’s search algorithm analogy.

  77. #78 David Marjanovi?
    December 12, 2009

    Just to make sure:

    • The penis bone (often called baculum, “little stick”) is one bone in the midline of the body. The thighbones are, wait for it, wait for it, a pair: one left, one right… The latter is what is occasionally found in today’s whales and regularly found in Eocene whales.
    • Archaeopteryx is part of a whole tree, very similar to the “horse sequence”.
    • Before it was finally recognized as a hoax, Piltdown Man turned out to fit worse and worse in the human evolutionary tree over a period of decades. It just had the wrong combination of characters.
    • Nebraska Man… for crying out loud, only creationists and those who know too much about them even know about Nebraska Man anymore!!! It was recognized as a peccary tooth within a very short timespan, and wouldn’t have fit easily into the human evolutionary tree, because it’s way too old and from the wrong continent altogether.
    • Quote-mining George Gaylord Simpson, the man who singlehandedly brought paleontology into the Modern Synthesis, is just so stupid. What next? “Thou shalt [...] kill”?
    • The argument from etymology is a logical fallacy. It’s true that scientia meant “knowledge” in Classical Latin; that doesn’t make knowledge science or vice versa.

    Come back, drive-by troll, and dance for us.

  78. #79 Vashti
    December 12, 2009

    Now, if they want to keep looking for your magic monkeys

    Not sure who “they” are, but I am hiding my Magic Monkey away in safe place just in case…

  79. #80 Elf Sternberg
    December 12, 2009

    Raven: Posted to Amazon, after some adaptations to

    The fundamental reason why evolution by exaptation is not a search function is because adaptation isn’t “searching” for a solution to a problem; it’s not forward-looking at all.

    Over at Good Math, Bad Math, Mark Chu-Carroll outlined why a search function is a bad analogy for evolution, and why Dembski’s pareidolia about evolution leads him to that bad analogy.

    When you finally add in all of the variables that are happening in the real-world landscape of survival challenges and the emergent exaptations that lead to survival for some, the complexity of the problem becomes better described by something more like cellular automata, with its concrete rules but lack of predictive outcome (through any other means that actually running the algorithm, just as we have no idea what would happen in evolutionary biology except by letting it happen and observing the outcome), something better handled through modern fractal mathematics rather than the smooth, simple search functions Dembski proposes.

  80. #81 sasqwatch
    December 12, 2009

    Well you could’ve knocked me over with a feather. They spelled BOTH your names correctly.

  81. #82 Elf Sternberg
    December 12, 2009

    OwlMirror:

    The most interesting part of the book, for me at least, is Meyer’s confession at the end: Intelligent Design is not a utilitarian branch of biology. Studying it won’t make you a better biologist. You will never use the premises of ID to treat cancer, or engineer bacteria, or develop frost-, salt-, or heat-surviving crops. It’s a “historical science,” one that purports to tell us how we got here.

    (Meyer does a very good job, rhetorically, of teaching half of “what science means when it’s predictive,” only to fail to produce concrete predictions at the end. Nonetheless, the yahoos of his audience will still insist on biologists “predicting” what we’ll evolve into.)

    He makes a plea that “ID is still worth studying,” even if it will never be used to extend man’s control over nature. Unfortunately for Meyer, that’s one of the three requirements of a fruitful research program. If ID can’t deliver, it’s best left in the philosophy and religion department.

  82. #83 minimalist
    December 12, 2009

    That’s adorable. Meyer was obviously hoping the scientists would refuse to review his work, so he could shriek that poow widdle Stevie was being EXPEWWED again.

    At least he has the fallback position of whining about the eventual, negative reviews (without ever addressing their content).

  83. #84 haig51
    December 12, 2009

    Here’s a positive review of the book by John Walker, a generally rational and scientifically minded individual whose comments I used to like reading. Unless it’s satire and I haven’t been clued in on the joke, he’s citing the ‘evidence’ in this book as irrefutable proof of intelligent design.

    http://www.fourmilab.ch/fourmilog/archives/2009-11/001198.html

    To his credit, he isn’t the average religious creationist in sheep’s clothing, he doesn’t believe in a g*d in a religious sense (i think). He puts forth more interesting ideas like the simulation argument and so forth, but its still creationism in one guise or another. I’m willing to keep open the possibility of such ideas, but alas, I can’t believe in any as yet since there is NO evidence, this book withstanding.

    He’s the retired founder of Autodesk and I think in general he is a smart and accomplished person, but this review and some other pseudo-scientific inclinations on his sight just make me sigh with disappointment.

    It’s one thing to debate stupid beliefs held by stupid people, but its really disheartening when really smart people hold those same beliefs.

    *sigh*

  84. #85 Chris
    December 14, 2009

    Why do people so often accuse others of things which they themselves are guilty of?

    Any ideas (Afar1)

  85. #86 destlund
    December 14, 2009

    Chris, I posit set [A] where speck < beam.

  86. #87 destlund
    December 14, 2009

    whoopsie! I forgot the “less than” sign also means “open a tag.” Let’s try that again:

    Chris, I posit set [A] where “speck” is less than “beam.”

  87. #88 reindeerboy386sx
    December 16, 2009

    Looks like they notched it up even higher. Five star reviews out the wazooooo! Oh well, I guess Meyer really is the modern day Einstein. Oh well!!

  88. #89 Lindorms
    December 16, 2009

    Perhaps the Discovery Institute was only really after your address? I sincerely hope you use a PO Box.

  89. #90 Glen Davidson
    December 16, 2009

    New Statesman uses Nagel’s claptrap about Meyer’s book as evidence that you don’t need to be a theist to doubt science:

    http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/cultural-capital/2009/12/nagel-fletcher-everything

    No, you really only have to be ignorant, and not very good at philosophy.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  90. #91 Corax
    December 17, 2009

    I have actually read this book (the whole thing!) and actually thought it well written and with some very effective arguments. Some parts were weak (Elf touched on some of them). I can’t say I enjoyed the book, but I did learn a few things from it, and it certainly doesn’t justify the slamming it is getting from people who for the most part don’t seem to have read it.

    The philosophy of science elements were particularly strong, and as for ID making predictions Meyer adds a section toward the end of the book with a list of ID predictions, what you choose to make of them is I guess up to you.

    Have you seen the Amazon reviews? There are some very predictable and clearly not well thought out fundamentalist positive comments. But just look at the negative ones – most of the commentors clearly haven’t read it (many of the criticisms relate to things which have nothing whatsoever to do with the book) and resort to name calling. Some of the comments in response to PZ’s blog entry are not much better. Surely if we are standing up for science we should be about reason not abusive rants. I’m sure I can’t be the only person here who thinks that using ad hominem attacks against an author and ranting against books is a very poor way of tackling the issues it contains. When I see this happen, regardless of the topic, I write the commentor off as childish, and wonder what they are so frightened of that they want to scare others off from reading the book.

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