Is it Peaceful to Misrepresent?

Is it “Peaceful Science” to completely misrepresent the views of others?


This is a warning @mung. Do not deface important threads between scholars with off topic questions like this. If you do this repeatedly there will be consequences.

The question itself is fine as a separate thread, which is why I moved it here. To answer you…

No, it is not peaceful to misrepresent people, and we certainly do not do so intentionally.


I am glad to hear that.

@Art claimed that @bjmiller “doesn’t believe hydrophobic interactions are important for protein folding and assembly, or in other macromolecular associations.”

I think we can easily clear this up by simply asking Brian if it is in fact the case that he doesn’t believe hydrophobic interactions are important for protein folding and assembly, or in other macromolecular associations.

Sound fair, Joshua?

I think that’s a pretty serious charge and if not true it does in fact misrepresent Brian’s views.

Art also writes that “Brian apparently doesn’t believe that water interacts with macromolecules.”

Frankly I think such an accusation is absurd. But why not ask Brian himself and clear it up?

And Art ends with what I think is an equally preposterous claim, that Brian “obviously believes that living cells are in chemical and thermodynamic equilibrium.”

Let’s ask Brian himself if whether he actually believes that.

It’s not a question of whether “Peaceful Science” misrepresents ID. It’s a question of whether Art Hunt has misrepresented the views of Brian Miller.

This is your blog, and your discussion Joshua, and you can do with it as you like. But if you are indeed trying to carry on a “peaceful” conversation with ID supporters, especially those associated with the DI, then consider speaking to Art about his comments rather than targeting me for pointing out that Art’s way of dealing with his disagreement with Brian was not a peaceful one.

I think Art was wrong on all three points mentioned above and I’d love to hear your comments on the substance of Art’s allegations and whether you agree with them.

@bjmiller is an adult who can fend for himself. Brian saw it directly did not dispute this characterization. He can also add a final note clarifying his position whenever he likes.

Your cheerleading is not helping ID. Stop. Let them make their case. We will make sure they are heard out. Interjecting by anonymous observers helps no one.

That is a good question fro you to direct to @bjmiller, quoting @Art precisely rather than paraphrasing. You did not, it seems, correctly characterize him. However, it is wiser to sit back and see what @bjmiller says and does.

I am surprised very often by what I find out that ID proponents believe about science and God. It seems @art uncovered a large difference in understanding, and is testing out language to describe it. @bjmiller’s response seemed to confirm that @art was correct in his description of the difference.

Of course, @bjmiller has the floor to clarify as much as he would like on that thread. He does not answer to us, and no one is silencing him.


I respectfully disagree. Here’s what Brian wrote in response to my saying his views had been misrepresented:

“No worries, I am used to such interactions.

Please take another look. I did not paraphrase Art, I quoted him precisely.

@bjmiller, you can see this exchange. Please do clarify if you have been misrepresented.

(@mung, that is all you needed to do).

@swamidass, noted. I will file it away for future use. :slight_smile:

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Take a non-confrontational approach with me and you will get much farther. Seriously. I have no incentive to misrepresent anyone. Just respectfully ask for clarification and you will usually get it. Indignation at what might very well be imagined offenses is just a waste of time.


Actually, I thought Mung was taking Brian to task for misrepresenting Morowitz and Davies. I was impressed with Mung’s knowledge on these subjects.

Mung, as an argument against the feasibility of abiogenesis, Brian quoted a calculation made by Morowitz that pertained to the possibility that life could exist at chemical and thermodynamic equilibrium. If Brian doesn’t actually think that life is at chemical and thermodynamic equilibrium, then why would he quote this calculation to argue against the OOL? This is the only way to make sense of Brian’s argument.

Brian is welcome to explain why he would make this argument. Until he chimes in, I believe my assertion is the easiest and kindest way to explain things.


Hi Art,

Brian has cited Arieh Ben-Naim. Hopefully he is acquainted with his work on aqueous solutions and protein folding.

@Art, @Mung, just a comment. Brian’s PhD is in non-equilibrium thermodynamics. He knows very well that living cells are not at equilibrium. I haven’t seen the other posts in question, but it seems to me that something was misunderstood, but not by Brian.

About being adults who can take care of ourselves—that works well when every thing is on an even keel. It doesn’t work when various storms overtake us. So best not to misrepresent or mis-judge in the first place.


I do believe they are. The challenge is not folding but the creation of the macromolecules from the chemicals which would have been on the early earth.

Water is very important. In particular, the combining of amino acids into proteins is thermodynamically unfavored in water. The key challenge is creating and bringing together the right macromolecules. At that point, nature (e.g. interactions with water) can assist in some of the assembly process.

The key point is that cell formation is very strongly disfavored near equilibrium, so most have moved toward non-equilibrium systems. However, those systems generate sources of entropy production which moves away from the state of life. NEQ processes also do not drive systems toward higher free energy and specified configurations of matter without the help of engines and information. Therefore, the chances far-from-equilibrium are no better than near equilibrium.

The key issue is not solely how life operates now, but how did simple chemicals coalesce into life.


I forgot to mention that Morowitz was calculating the probability of life forming into a configuration which was very far from equilibrium. The fact that life is so far from equilibrium is the very reason the probability for it occurring is so small. The system in which life formed was assumed during the calculation to be in a quasi-equilibrium state meaning that the gradients in the various variables (T, concentration, etc.) were relatively small.

The problem is that systems driven far from equilibrium head away from the state of life for the reasons cited above. If the drive decreases, the system heads back towards the Boltzmann distribution. In other words, one cannot win either near or far from equilibrium.