Is Wikipedia Fair to the Biologic Institute?

Before I deal with that, I carefully read a large amount of material you linked too, and carefully responded. It would be helpful to start with my summary of that. Did I misread it?

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They give the key parts of that story in a fair way–it has been improved. But I have pointed out elsewhere other elements of skewed reporting. Why do I have to defend myself here?

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You are not being asked to defend yourself. You were upset at that wiki article, and we are just trying to figure out why. That’s all. You quoted that section saying it misrepresented everything, but I’m not sure I see how. Yes other articles did, but not that wiki article. Yes it is not going to tell your side of the story fully.

I think we agree with you, as we have stated several times…

If that was your main point, we all already agree. Maybe call it a win.

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Really? Maybe you.

WIth respect, I don’t think anyone is denying that ID proponents sometimes get misrepresented, or that they sometimes get treated with contempt as a result (or for other reasons). That’s pretty trivially true. What I was interested in when I first asked my question was (insidious) examples of the “errors and bias” that you said that wikipedia article specifically was full of.

So far you’ve given the example of a quote from Daniel Brooks that was apparently in error in saying that HGT was involved in your microbial experiment. While that should of course be corrected, I was hoping for something more juicy. Do you have some more alarming examples from that wikipedia article?

Juicy? Wikipedia is usually subtle enough to administer their poison undetected. As this prolonged justification shows. The juicy part is the Brooks story, which of course I cannot demonstrate.

I would have to explain our account of the Wistar II meeting in order to demonstrate why Brooks is not telling it straight, throughout his whole account. Plus he doesn’t seem to understand the biology. But to explain every thing will just lead to a he said/she said debacle, my word against his, and you adjudicating.

Back when it happened, I asked that the tapes be released, in order to demonstrate his false account. It never happened, probably for legal reasons. But for the record, everyone was informed of the confidentiality agreement before hand, it was in order that some of the invited scientists would be willing to attend without being tainted, there was no deception on our part, the story about thinking it was to be a Gordon conference, if true, is ludicrous, and here I go again.

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That probably would have been helpful. It is too bad it was not done.

I would not even attempt to adjudicate that mess except to say that I have known you to be honest with me.

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I would ask what can ID do change that very negative perception about them

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Does it not take two to tango? Did we ask what blacks could do to change the negative perception about them in America? “Polluter pays.”

You mentioned that the Brooks error about HGT in Ann’s paper was trivial. Yet over at BioLogos, over a period of at least a few months, great stress was placed on a single nomenclature slip in Signature in the Cell as evidence of his scientific incompetence. If one of those inatsnaces is trivial, then so is the other. If one matters, so does the other.

Declaration of interest - I read SITC 18 months after following the concerted BioLogos campaign against it (as a loyal BioLogos contributor), and reviewed the book in the light of the record of the critique. The negative perception of his book could have been improved markedly by (a) reading the book more carefully before reviewing some other book or, in the case of Francisco Ayala (of happy memory), the index, © not introducing his replies by poisoning the well (d) not casting doubt on his genuine credentials on the subject from a position of having none yourself… what the heck, you can read my review yourself.


Sorry, I missed your post about the missed publications (ironic, huh?), and I think it was Joshua that brought up the greenscreen thing, but I’m still not seeing your point about Wistar II. Regardless of how other people represented it, the wikipedia article seems to do a fair job of balancing the version of events, and only repeated a small technical error in Brooks’ description of your results.

Regarding the publications, I thought it would be pretty clear that the article would be referring to publications in the “normal” scientific literature. You might be happy with BIO-complexity as a journal with rigerous peer-review etc, but surely you understand the skepticism of others. You must understand the poor optics of a small group of scientists on the fringe of a particular field starting their own niche journal to publish in. Do you expect everyone to say “Oh, well look, they’ve started publishing in a journal, now they really are doing real science!”?
Since the article also adds the caveat of “containing results which support intelligent design”, this is not just a statement that no publications have emerged, it’s specifically a claim that no compelling publications have emerged.

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Then can you correct my misunderstandings? For exmaple, Sternberg says he lost his office and was told to return his keys, portraying this as a punishment that hampered his research in the museum. The article I linked claims that Sternberg was relocated to a different but essentially identical office, and that this relocation was planned long before Meyer’s article was published. He also apparently didn’t lose his access to museum collections - he had to hand back his key, but so did everyone else, as part of a planned security upgrade. I’m more inclined to believe the latter version of events, it sounds much more plausible, but maybe you can set me straight?

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Not a necessary or appropriate comment. You do not own the rights to a stylized “A”. You’re making me wonder whether your sunglasses were photoshopped in… : )


No, my sunglasses are Maui Jim’s. I wear them on the advice of my ophthalmologist. And I think I look cool for a 60 year guy from New Jersey. Regarding the stylized A, it is trademarked. But Ann is welcomed to use it. Regarding the necessary or appropriateness of the comment, consider the discussion we are having about secret conferences, confidentiality agreements to attend meetings, unpublished conference proceedings. DI has a habit of doing this. They call themselves academics and scientists. But openness, peer review, dialog, collaboration are the hallmarks of science. We discussed your lion motif but you gave us a picture of yourself which I realize that the lion is of high resemblance. :sunglasses: Seriously why all this secrecy from Ann and DI?

Your use of the word “secret” is disingenuous. Not every scientific coference invites all scientists, nor the general public. Ideas in these events are discussed tentatively, as a matter of mutual information. Whether you like it or not, this is, in fact, how an awful lot of science is done. Trying to think of the last time I saw a public conference hosted by the Craig Venter stable of scientists, and would hardly expect they’d hold only open conferences. In their case, they’re trying to develop products, not just advance an ideological perspective. There can be all kinds of reasons not to invite every child in the class to your children’s birthday parties, no?

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Of course not all scientific conference invites (or allows) the press or general public to its meetings. But all scientific conference that I know of do not asks for confidentially agreements to not to discuss and not to publish what you heard at the meeting. I had this problem during the tech bubble of 2001. Fiber Optic Technology was so financially hot that CNBC wanted to broadcast from the floor of the IEEE Optical Fiber Conference. We decided to let them broadcast from the floor of the exhibit hall but not in the rooms where the latest technical breakthroughs were being reported (all peer reviewed and rated as the best technical breakthroughs).

That is factually not true. Gordon conferences historically have had just this rule.

Ok, I stand corrected.

Why does Gordon conference do this? Protection of presenters ideas, technology, or patent rights?


They want leading scientists to present their best work in progress, before publication. Has a long traditional of delivering on this vision.

Yes, very good reason. In my industry, “hero” scientific results (like the maximum number of bits you can stuff into a fiber) were published to make the company look advanced and forward looking, but technological advances that could make a real product or system more profitable were usually held back from presentation and publication. The scientists could present/publish but the engineers couldn’t. So I had a hat with multiple brims, one day I wore a scientist hat and the next I wore an engineers hat.

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Like Ann Gauger, Steve Meyer, Rick Sternberg, Bill Dembski, and several other ID theorists, I attended this meeting (“Wistar II,” held in Boston). By agreement among all the participants before the meeting, the presentations and discussions were to be strictly off-the-record. Everyone held to this agreement – except Dan Brooks, whose strongly skewed reporting has therefore colored the public perception of what happened in the two days of presentations and discussions.

Ann has suffered the most in the wake of Brooks’s misrepresentations. Ironically, although other presenters on the “evolution” side of the discussion were even more opposed to ID than Dan, as evidenced by their critical comments during the meeting, they kept to their pre-meeting agreement about confidentiality. Brooks claimed for himself the right to describe what happened, however, and now, over 10 years later, Ann is still trying to correct the record.

This meeting taught me a bitter lesson: a scientific minority cannot expect even-handed treatment (especially when, almost by definition, they lack the strength to enforce academic standards, such as have applied at the Gordon Conferences for decades). Dan Brooks did the ID crew a nasty. If ever I see him again at a professional meeting, I’m going to ask him why.


So, Patrick, you’ve successfully counterargued your own disingenuity. Good work!

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Thank you, I am a Master at it.