Comments on McLatchie and Swamidass

Continuing the discussion from McLatchie and Swamidass: Livecast on March 16th, Darwin Devolves:

Thanks for the support and joining the conversation. What did you all think?


I saw @Edgar_Tamarian, @BenKissling, @dga471 and @evograd and @art there, I think. Who else joined in?


I think there’s a lot of distrust on both sides and it’s really hard for me to think of ways to interact that improve instead of worsening the situation. We get caught up in very pedantic and semantic debates. For example, I got caught up in a debate about whether you guys had “personally attacked” Behe, and whether arguing that someone has ignored evidence constitutes a personal attack. @Art got into an argument about Behe “misusing” White which seemed to me more about microanalyzing Behe’s writing instead of focusing on the science. There were also arguments about whether any side had actually conceded or corrected anything. None of these are really what moves the debate forward, I think. What is the best way to move forward?

On the Christian side of things, I wish that there were more apologetics ministries which espouse mainstream evolutionary science instead of ID. I think more needs to be done convincing the rest of the Christian community that there are serious Christians who are friendly to mainstream science.


It was OK. I was mis-typing so much because I was watching the SEC tournament that it is amazing anyone understood anything I typed.

Anyways, the crew there agreed with the ENV piece that basically tosses the quantitative notion of a CCC out the window. No argument from me there.


The worst thing that could possible be discussed in public is the trust issue. Science is not based on trust, it is personal relationships must be based on trust. Scientific claim cannot be true or wrong just bacause of trust. When reviewer gets papaer for review, he does not know the author of the paper let alone trust him or not, so paper is revewed not based on trust.

if you someone says at first we have to trust sceintific institution, a then take seriously their reseacrh then he gives credit to Flat Earthers, baecause their claim is only based lack of trust on NASA and other space agencies.

All in all, better listening there than to Vitale. Thanks to Josh for seeking out these opportunities.


Don’t be dissing Kyrie, my man.

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That’s not the whole story. In my field of precision measurement, for example, the community is very small, such that you can easily identify the author of the paper solely by its content. There’s a lot of trust that is crucial for the peer review process to make sense; for example, a reviewer would ask, “Have you looked into whether changing X causes a change in your results?” And we would reply, “We tried that by using methods Y and Z but it did not cause a change.” There is no completely infallible way (short of visiting our experiment in person and asking for the data) to verify that we are not lying or exaggerating. But there is mutual trust that everyone has sufficient scientific integrity, competence and meticulousness to conduct their experiments properly and pursue any loose ends.


Science is driven by trust. ID has a major trust problem, and has had one long before I entered the scene. Don’t knock me for 1. stating the obvious, and 2. giving Behe the opportunity to do better than everyone expects of him.

The reason we do not professionally trust him, and must check every evidential claim he makes, is because he does not communicate all the salient points about the data, and does not admit obvious errors.

@NLENTS you need to watch part of this too. They asked about out what looks like a mistake you make in explaining Behe’s position. If that isn’t either retracted or better explained, I expect they will be pressing you on this.


I did not follow the comments. I think my point was understood:

  1. We understood the science far better than they gave us credit.

  2. Our point is that Behe has misrepresented the White quote, due to a large misunderstanding of epidemiology.

  3. There was no suitable way to reference this in our review except with the Summers ref, and we gave fair notice to Behe of this.

  4. The ball is in Behes court, as no one can concede or clarify points on his behalf.

  5. We are concerned because even obvious and clear errors are being dodged.

I don’t expect most people will follow the scientific details. I do think people can see who enagaging in good faith, and this sets the context for Behe to engage in good faith, if he so chooses.

Keep in mind too that this was a tiny audience. The only people watching it are technically minded. McLatchie, it think, understood my point and he is in their circle. I @bjmiller was there too.

DI: We are inviting you into the conversation, but we have to engage in good faith.

In so many ways, the ball is in Behe’s court.

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Oh jeez, what are they upset about? In any event, here’s the thing. Why should I care about them pressing me? Considering how they never ever admit their many mistakes, missteps, and deceptions, why should I give a hoot about their concerns? Behe doctored the hell out of a chart to try to convince people I am incompetent. Methinks he doth protest too much.


This is seriously seriously wrong. And if you’d ever been involved in publishing research, you’d understand why.


at least, I gave reasons, and explained my view, why I think so, and nobody explained why and how I am wrong. People’s paper gets published just because of trust?..oh you are a good boy I trust you, let publish you, oh no, I dislike you, I do not trust you, you are not allowed to be published? this is the way, science works?

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Daniel explained it to you half an hour ago: Comments on McLatchie and Swamidass


Yeah, it’s clear you don’t get it. It would be incredibly easy to fake data or analysis or any of it. You wouldn’t get away with it for long because others won’t be able to replicate. But reputation is everything in science because we need people to trust in our work. This is why ethics, honesty, and transparency is so important. Trust is everything.


that kind of communicantion can be done also unanimously, there is no need to know someone personally

Which part of:

did you not understand?

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you are entering different filed, faking data, it is in the fileld of crimes, it no longer about whether scientific claim is true or not, let police deal with it. for example in this case Millions of surgery patients at risk in drug research fraud scandal

but this kind of criminal cases is not about trust but about keeping the laws, Scientific paper cannot be judged based on trust

Sorry, friend, but you have no idea what you’re talking about.


I think the average person would find it rather strange that you, Dr. Swamidass, agreed with the central thesis of the book but gave it a bad review because you have trust issues.

Can we review the substantive issues you had with the book please?

Maybe we can start with the polar bear gene. Here’s Behe’s explanation of his reasoning:

Behe on APOB

And you say he is wrong because…?

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