DI: On Chloroquine Resistance, Nathan Lents Severely Misrepresents Behe’s Arguments?



Darwin Devolves: The End of Evolution?
(T J Runyon) #2

I think this shows the DI and ID should no longer be addressed. These anonymous pieces are ridiculous. I’ve lost so much respect for them through this ordeal. You know why it’s easy to misunderstand their arguments? Because they are so vague. I’m starting to think this is by design so they can write articles like this

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(Mikkel R.) #3

Mmmno, I have to agree that @NLents got this one wrong. Behe did not, in fact, say that chloroquine resistance could not evolve as far as I am aware.

(Timothy Horton) #4

I’ve said it a thousand times if I’ve said it once. The DI is not a science organization. It’s a religious propaganda organization whose main goal is a return to political significance if not outright dominance by the Christian religion. Their target audience isn’t scientifically literate people, it’s the uneducated laymen who can be easily swayed by their BS.

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(Mikkel R.) #5

While I would agree with that in general, if @NLents got something wrong, which it appears to me that he did, then such an error should be corrected. It certainly doesn’t help the case against Behe’s nonsense to use wrong or bad arguments for it.

(Nathan H. Lents) #6

If I did, I would certainly admit to it and correct the error, as I did once before. I’ll have to read it all again carefully (a practice the DI folks should consider adopting!). I’m on vacation with my family this week so it will have to wait until early next week at the earliest. By then, I’m sure there will be a half dozen more rage-filled EN articles being pinged at me and who can keep track of all their grievances. Besides, the book will be released next week and other reviews will start coming out and they’ll go after them with the same gusto I’m sure. It’s been fun to be in their cross-hairs again, but I’m sure they’re ready to move on. The more they go after me, the more people see the polar bear-flavored egg on Behe’s face.

(John Harshman) #7

You did, and you should. Chloroquine resistance is used as an example of the edge of evolution. That is, it’s presented as the maximum that’s possible, and then only in a very large population. It’s anything beyond that that he says is impossible (or vanishingly unlikely, which is close enough for jazz).

(Nathan H. Lents) #8

And Behe is a big part of that goal. He always insists that his work is a dispassionate look at the science, but if that were the case, why does he avoid peer review like the plague? Intervaristy Press would probably be interested in his book, but they do real and rigorous peer review. Instead, he published “Darwin Devolves” in HarperOne, the imprint of HarperCollins that is for religion, self-help, spirituality, etc. Kind of says it all, doesn’t it?

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Your priorities (and family values) are right where they should be! Enjoy your vacation, I am sure your family will remember it much more than we will remember Behe’s book.

(Nathan H. Lents) #10

Thanks, Patrick. I appreciate the support. It’s a bit ironic that I steal time to do battle with Behe after I tuck my family in bed, the same family that Behe and the DI think shouldn’t have legal rights or protections in the first place. Oh well. I doubt he’s sleeping soundly these days, either.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #11

That is how I understand it too.

The flaw in their argument has been pointed out by @art, and is just as bad a reading of the literature on malaria as the polar bear fiasco. @Art has this one correct, which is why I repeatedly quote him on this (still no response from DI).

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #12

I’m to sure Behe has ever taken a position on that, but I get your point. Most of his supporters may have opposed it.

In fairness too, you seem to be having fun. :smile:

(Nathan H. Lents) #13

I wouldn’t let him off the hook. He’s meticulous about keeping his politics low so that he can appear as if interested only in science, but he’s been with the DI from the get-go and there’s that whole “wedge document” they wish we’d all forget about. I mean, they don’t hide their politics anyway. Klingtroller just wrote a post praising Ben Shapiro FFS.

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(S. Joshua Swamidass) #15

Give it time. @nlents said if he made an error he will fix it. He had done so once before. Remember the exchange on sinuses? I’m not concerned about his ability to concede a point.

(Steve Schaffner) #16

I don’t see how Behe has gotten anything wrong here. Mutations to PfCRT are by themselves sufficient to confer a phenotype of either CQ resistance or CQ tolerance, depending on genetic background (see this review), either of which is very likely selectable. The number of mutation in PfCRT required for the phenotype is less clear, but an in vitro study study shows that two mutations are sufficient to confer modest levels of CQ transport by PfCRT. (Which two mutations again depends on genetic background.)

We don’t know for sure, but it’s reasonable to think that two mutations are required to produce a selectable phenotype for CQ resistance.


The problem I see with Behe’s argument is that he isn’t able to cite any other examples. The main push of the argument seems to be that there are only two mutations that can result in chloroquine resistance. Of course, this conclusion is debatable as is the alleged claim that both mutations have to happen at once, but the larger argument has issues as well. What other examples can Behe point to? Are there examples in the evolution of the flagellum? What about any human adaptations?

We could also ask how many possible adaptations are there in a model genome that require two mutations? I may be a bit biased, but I strongly suspect there are potentially millions or billions of possible adaptations in a standard eukaryotic genome that can come about through two mutations. At least to me, this is the biggest weakness in Behe’s overall argument.