Behe's response to Lenski's first post

More important the computer model does not predict “damaging” in the sense Behe means it. It predicts a change of function. Nothing more.


Moreover, if there is a predicted functional change, it basically is assumed to be damaging. I don’t know how the method could, even in principle, be used to test the hypothesis that adaptive evolution proceeds primarily by breaking things instead of improving them.

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Science is not only about making experiments but also generating scientific ideas, which could later be confirmed by experiments․ For instance, the prediction of the Higgs boson by Peter Higgs in 1964․ What if scientific community at first rejected his idea as a false, experimentally not confirmed, called him «misrepresents particle physics, avoids evidence that challenges him» @swamidass ,
would the scientific community ever invest billions of money in an experiment whose idea initially rejected as heretical?

Of course, something similar happened to Peter Higgs as Spiegel inform us;

But [ Peter Higgs] his ideas were initially snubbed by the academic world, with his landmark publication predicting the existence of the Higgs boson being rejected at first. The editor apparently didn’t understand a word of it.** Meet Peter Higgs: The Man Behind The God Particle - SPIEGEL ONLINE

But my point is this, if a scientist proposes a scientific idea, you should not jump and say false idea, you are a heretic, just because of your philosophical predisposition. Proposed scientific ideas should be respected if they are theoretically well grounded. And later on, can be experimentally confirmed. In the case of Polar bear, there is good theoretically well-grounded reason to think that more efficient lipid metabolism arose by degradative mutations of APOB gene.

let others worry about confirming it experimentally,

That is not what happened.

Except @art just gave you two well-grounded reasons why we should think ApoB has better function. Don’t fault us because you have a hard time following the science. You are just factually wrong here.


Why isn’t Behe testing it experimentally, Edgar?


How easy is it to test this? Does it require funds or is it something that can be done by analysing data and doing simulations?

It is very hard. But there is good evidence, as @Art has presented, to doubt Behe’s conclusion. Even if he is ultimately proven right, his reasoning to this conclusion is clearly wrong.

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Fair enough.
But if this is the case, it would be unfair to blame Behe for not testing his hypothesis. It’s possible he doesn’t have the funding/facilities to do this.

Why? Behe is a tenured professor in the Biological Science Department of LeHigh University. It must have some facilities/laboratories at least to stay accredited in Bilogical Science degrees up to and including PhDs.


That’s why I asked how difficult it was to do the experiment. You have worked in companies, resources are always alloted based on the organisations priorities.
@swamidass said it was tough. We don’t know the details. So accusations like their just show either ignorance or are just being unfair.

I don’t think it is unfair at all to suggest that a tenured professor at a prestigious university would have the resources available to at least try to test such claims. As far as I’m aware, Behe has not made any attempts to back up any ID-related claims.


It is unfair. The DI would probably have to let one or two fellows go in order to fund this sort of work at Lehigh.


I certainly blame him for misrepresenting the authors of the study, and calling @art and @nlents “incompetent” for pointing it out.


I am basing my understanding on three pieces of information -

  1. All the current papers published on this subject are based on programmes and not actual animal experiments. Only experiments have been done on mice.
  2. Polar bears are classified as vulnerable, are very big, used to a specific environment. Ahndling then will be tough and need specialised resources including specific environmental conditions.
  3. @swamidass said it was very hard to do the experiment.

What would an “attempt” to do the experiment look like? And how do we know Behe hasn’t made said attempt?

That is false.

@Ashwin_s, yes, but there are other experiments that are easier. What experiments has Behe attempted to perform? Some of them are easy!

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I edited the comment to be more accurate. I don’t think it effects the conclusion.

I don’t know… are talking about this specific issue or some other grouse on another issue?

Baloney. That might be a reason for failing, but not an excuse to even try.

It’s Behe’s hypothesis, so it’s his responsibility to test it. The DI has plenty of funds. Behe could collaborate with someone.

Besides, according to Edgar, Behe is a great scientist.

Ashwin, if your superior presents a project and you say it will be hard to do, would your superior just reply, “OK then,” and walk away?


I’m saying that the reason he has not tested this idea has nothing to do with its difficulty. There are much easier tests he has never attempted.

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How is that a piece of information, when it is objectively, spectacularly false?

History and his testimony in the Dover trial. Based on his publication record, he hasn’t done anything empirical in 24 years.

Shall we wager?