Jeanson Accuses Duff of Misconduct...Again

Jeanson write an article today to @Joel_Duff and @David_MacMillan about hyper evolution and, yes, misconduct again.

When BioLogos wants to justify their rejection of the concept of kinds, they turn heavily to one individual: Professor of biology and professing Christian Dr. Joel Duff. His extensive blog posts on the young-earth concept of kinds—which he summarizes as hyperevolution —are their go-to source for criticism of young-earth views of speciation. From making recommendations on their forum6,7,8 to publishing an article that explicitly attacks the views of Answers in Genesis and the Ark Encounter,9 BioLogos turns to Duff. Duff is also part of their speaking team, the BioLogos Voices.10

Other theistic evolutionists turn to him as well. For example, one professing Christian scientist who endorses evolution and who has gained influence among evangelical leaders, has high praise for Duff: “Joel Duff is the resident YEC hyperevolution expert.”11

This last paragraph may be the first reference, though cryptic, to PS by AIG. I give him credit for realizing I’m not with BioLogos, though it’s also interesting he won’t mention PS or me by name, or note that I’m not actually a theistic evolutionist.


@David_MacMillan does he address your medium article where you explain why this wasn’t misconduct? Or did he just not read it?

He does not address it. I suspect he started writing this article before my Medium article (free link here) was posted, although that is no excuse because I sent him a courtesy copy via personal email well over a week ago:

Same exact nonsense hashed and rehashed in his video.


I did want to point out an amusing quote from Jeanson that I hadn’t seen before:

“The wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) develops from a single cell to a sexually mature adult in less than three years, undergoing massive phenotypic transformation in the process. By contrast, over the course of 4365 years, the 37 cat species that exist today arose from a common felid ancestor—a much smaller level of phenotypic change. Thus, producing extensive phenotypic species diversity in a few thousand years is not an unreasonable postulate.”

Alleging that the “phenotypic change” of programmed amphibian metamorphosis somehow supports rapid speciation is just mind-numbingly asinine. How does he think he can make that sort of argument? It’s an insult to the intelligence of his readers.


It’s not the first time he’s made that argument, he’s also made it in a “technical research paper”, that includes this delightful “figure”:

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I haven’t read this guy’s work, which seems laughable. The OP, about “research misconduct,” is also laughable. There may be legitimate disagreements about the portrayal of YEC “research” and it may even be that this guy’s critics have made factual errors while critiquing YEC stuff. But in the professional scientific literature, such disagreements (or even errors) are never considered “misconduct.” Not even close.

If, after a detailed look at the article in question and the complaints of the YECs being critiqued, it was established that there are significant errors of fact, then the authors could be encouraged to run a correction or other commentary. I’m not saying this is justified in this case, and I don’t see a good reason to give attention to nonsense, but that’s how things would/should go in cases in which there is a significant and substantive dispute about a published article.

That’s right.

If Jeanson has a legitimate point (beyond the rhetorical joy of publicly calling out “misconduct”) there are actually processes he really needs to go through to obtain a correction, and as a last resort, have misconduct investigated.

Misconduct is an extremely serious issue in science and it is more than merely making a citation or representation mistake. Going public about “research misconduct” before exhausting every other option is a major breech of ethics. I encourage Jeanson to look at the HHS’s Whistleblower’s Bill of rights and consider his ethical responsibilities:

Whistleblowers and other witnesses to possible research misconduct have a responsibility to raise their concerns honorably and with foundation.

Whistleblowers have a responsibility to participate honorably in such procedures by respecting the serious consequences for those they accuse of misconduct, and by using the same standards to correct their own errors that they apply to others.

Whistleblowers have a responsibility to act within legitimate institutional channels when raising concerns about the integrity of research.

Whistleblowers have a responsibility to facilitate expeditious resolution of cases by good-faith participation in misconduct procedures.

Every right carries with it a corresponding responsibility. In this context, the Whistleblower Bill of Rights carries the obligation to avoid false statements and unlawful behavior.

The key issue here is that it is a serious breech of ethics to make public accusations of research misconduct without satisfying these ethical responsibilities.

At this time, it seems clear that @Joel_Duff and @David_MacMillan can show, without doubt that, Jeanson is not acting within legitimate institutional channels. In this case, in a formal research misconduct investigation, it also seems that they could easily show that Jeanson is not following the same ethical standard he is applying to them, he did not give them opportunity to issue a correction, and he did not engage their response to his public charge of misconduct.

In my view, this departure from scientific norms should give any observer good reason to be alarmed by Jeanson’s behavior. If he really has evidence of misconduct, blow the whistle on them, and let legitimate channels adjudicate the misconduct.


I thought that since a written and published communication has made an accusation of “misconduct” it would be interesting to see the environment in which this would be legally termed as “defamation”. Here is an extract from a paper on the topic produced by the “Research Integrity Branch, Office of the General Counsel, for the Office of Research Integrity”.

A written or non-written communication is defamatory if it “tends to injure plaintiff in his trade,
profession or community standing, or lower him in the estimation of the community.
An allegation of scientific misconduct, whether or not substantiated by subsequent investigation, will
tend to injure the reputation of an accused scientist. Therefore, a whistleblower’s allegation of
misconduct will often constitute defamation.

It seems that individuals would be advised to take care before embarking on making accusations of professional or scientific misconduct.


Of course, it isn’t 4365 years; it’s much, much less. It’s 4365 years since the Fludde, but all the modern species appear to have formed within a few generations, since many of them appear in quite ancient artworks. Ancient Egyptian art shows, if I recall, both caracals and cheetahs, for example, and there are jaguars in ancient Central American art. It would also take a great deal of magic for the sorting of pre-existing polymorphism to present as a consistent nested hierarchy. The label of cargo cult science is not too unkind, and you shouldn’t eschew it.


What he’s actually accusing us of is quote-mining, which we weren’t actually doing. But quote-mining, even when it’s really bad, is not falsification of data.


By this logic, a butterfly can undergo a “massive phenotypic transformation” from a caterpillar in just a couple of weeks, so why not just say all mammals could arise from a single mammal pair on the Ark in a century or so?

Incidentally, he’s also fudging his “4365 years” number. He needs speciation much sooner than that. AiG claims that the book of Job was written “within a few hundred years” of the Flood, and it refers to both lions and wildcats separately.

The real reason he is wrong is that the frog is not undergoing phenotypic change. Its life cycle and metamorphosis IS its phenotype.


The quote you included is from this document:

Which clearly explains that whistleblowers have “conditional privilege” when they report misconduct through proper channels. They may not have this privilege if their claims are frivolous or if they do not use proper channels.

Consistent with PHS regulations, ORI believes that whistleblowers possess a conditional privilege
to disclose, in good faith to the proper institutional or ORI officials, allegations of scientific
misconduct. Such a conditional privilege would protect whistleblowers from defamation claims even
where the allegations ultimately prove to be untrue. However, whistleblowers who abuse the
privilege by making bad faith allegations or by intentionally violating the confidentiality of accused
parties may not be protected from defamation claims.

The truth of a defamatory statement furnishes a complete defense for the one who makes the
statement. However, if the conditional privilege applies, it may not be necessary for the whistleblower to prove the truth of his allegation. The conditional privilege allows the whistleblower to allege scientific misconduct even if the allegation proves to be false;6 he must merely have a good faith belief that the allegation is true. “Good faith” encompasses, among other things, “an honest belief, the absence of malice and the absence of design to defraud or to seek an unconscionable advantage.”

Note that institutions have an ethical duty to provide channels where complaints of misconduct can be received.


Quote mining is a type of lying. Systematic abuse of quote mining with refusal to correct it would be a type of misconduct. A key point is how it is managed. If this really was a quote mine, he should submit a clear explanation to you guys in writing, then to the journal editors and @Joel_Duff’s home institution. If at any point you guys issued a correction, it’s over, and there is no misconduct. If his claims are found to be false or too ambiguous to adjudicate, it’s over, and there is no misconduct.

It used to be part of my role to check business plans for “negligent misrepresentation” as entrepreneurs and start-ups had a tendency to omit proper analysis of competition etc. “Negligent misrepresentation” has more general application, not just for business cases.

In UK law, this has consequences:

Negligent misrepresentation: a representation made carelessly and in breach of duty owed by Party A to Party B to take reasonable care that the representation is accurate. If no “special relationship” exists, there may be a misrepresentation under section 2(1) of the Misrepresentation Act 1967 where a statement is made carelessly or without reasonable grounds for believing its truth.

The remedies for misrepresentation are rescission and/or damages. For negligent misrepresentation, the claimant may claim rescission and damages.

A creationist accusing someone of quote-mining?

That’s not going to be good for irony meters, I am afraid…


Embedded in this creationist argument is the proposition that somatic cells mutate during development in a way analogous to the generation of heritable variation in the course of evolution.

I don’t think that terribly fair. The question is not if creationists, generically speaking, quite mine, but if Jeanson himself quote mines. If he does, and doesn’t correct it when it’s pointed out, then he has no standing to make a complaint.

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Hyperevolution must have been even faster than AGI thinks.

Genetic testing of domestic cat mummys from ~4,000 years ago show that these little fur balls were nearly identical to my own two mousers, and even older (~9,000 ya) specimens are clearly close ancestors to our modern cats.


The general point that he has no credibility when complaining about “quote mining” is indeed fair. You are right that this isn’t relevant when considering a particular concern. But it is relevant to putting this person’s writings into context. They are saying, clearly, that they think that quote mining is “research misconduct.” Regardless of how this particular complaint measures up, they are on the record about what they think about “research misconduct.”

Assuming that Jeanson quote mines regularly, you are right. However, I’m not ready to make that accusation without doing a very careful look through his work for specifically this issue, and also giving him a chance to correct it first.

Yes, that is the case. If they are not very careful with this, it could come back and bite them.

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