Rudeness from the "DI crew"?

You missed the point. The discussion is about DI rudeness.

Behe, as a professor should know that some students are not up to par in proper decorum. And as the adult he could have easily taken a corrective approach by simply pointing out her tone is not best way to make a criticism rather than imitate her immature rudeness, then gone on with his response to her.

Does this sound like a mature professor?

Although she calls herself a “pre-grad student,” the tone of the post is decidedly junior high, the tone of someone who is trying hard to compete with all the other Mean Girls on that unpleasant website. I’ll pass over all that and try to stick to the substance.


With every post of @Eddie’s I’m reminded of the first law of holes.


Apparently you don’t know what those are, which seems odd, but no other explanation for your statement presents itself. Still, it’s nice that Eddie has gained a cheerleader.


I am afraid that I must disagree here, if rudeness includes a sexist and dismissive brush off. If one has seen this movie - and many great comedies have a bit of the subversive in them - by that reference Behe cast her as a juvenile bubblehead incapable of raising a serious argument. Otherwise there is no point. It is sexist both in terms of the pop culture reference and the phrase itself. “Girl” here is also ageist, like “ok boomer” would have been dismissively ageist.



First, she wasn’t “Dr. Smith” then. She may be now, but we are talking about a past situation.

Second, I didn’t “dismiss” her; I said only that most people – including most people in the USA – would not call a student of a subject an “ist” in that subject. My remark is sociologically and linguistically correct. But I’ve already granted, in a reply to someone else, that if you want to use “virologist” in a looser way, then you can apply that label to her, and I will understand the usage. So your continued bickering, when I’ve conceded the point, is non-constructive.

Third, your remark that my remark about other universities is irrelevant, is itself irrelevant, since my remark did not depend on Smith’s nationality. My remark was not about Abbie Smith at all, but was aimed at your parochial Americocentrism which tacitly implied that “top-tier” universities were all American. If you did not mean to imply that, then you wrote poorly, because your description of what “top-tier” universities do was a description based on your experience of American schools. So your remark was an example of either poor writing or American cultural snobbery. Take your pick.

Thanks for your understanding reply, Marty! Good to hear from you.

I tried to find some sort of update on ERV / Abby Smith, and stumbled on this discussion unrelated to ID. Gotta say, she does seem have that special knack of bringing it out in people. Search on her name - my o’ my. I would not make her a poster child for tact.


My question is nothing of the sort. Behe tap-danced for a long time before finally admitting that his representation of the evidence was objectively false.

No, he did not; you apparently didn’t read them in a scholarly way.

For example, in what way did Behe try to meet Musgrave’s pointing out that the only paper Behe cited in alleged support of his objectively false claim had nothing to do with the claim? Here it is:

Incidentally, when on page 139 you state that there are no new reports of viral protein-protein binding, your citation to support this statement (21, Wang 2002), is a paper on how viruses recognize receptors, which is entirely irrelevant to your claim, this paper does not address surveys of HIV for new protein-protein interactions at all [1].

That’s very strong evidence indicating intent to deceive.

Not responding is dismissive. Does this response exist, Eddie?

Behe misrepresented the evidence itself.

You portray yourself as a normal English reader, yet you routinely fail to distinguish between opinion and evidence.

Yes, yet another example of rudeness and dismissiveness from the DI crew. Dr. Smith is an active virologist who publishes in the primary literature, something Behe hasn’t done for 27 years.

Behe was writing about HIV, a virus that she was studying. Behe was literally denying the existence of one of the very, very few genes in the HIV genome. Anyone who knows anything about HIV can see that, but you won’t learn about it, just as you tap-danced for months to defend Meyer, Dembski, and Wells without ever figuring out that ribozymes are not proteins.

Expertise is also irrelevant except in detecting Behe’s falsehood, as Behe was misrepresenting the evidence itself.

Let’s see how many objective misrepresentations you’ll make to justify Behe’s objective misrepresentation:

Irrelevant to this case, as Behe never would have been allowed to publish such a blatant misrepresentation in a scientific journal.

Wow. So many falsehoods. Behe made a global negative claim based on 5 cherry-picked cases, itself a ludicrous position logically. Behe’s claim about HIV, false by a factor of infinity, was one of them. Another was malarial chloroquine resistance, which has been thoroughly debunked, as there are many single-residue substitutions that have been shown to confer resistance.

As someone with a PhD and postdoctoral training in virology, this part clearly stated the scientific point (not “question”):

And this is my friend, Vpu. I presume you and Vpu haven’t met, as you recently repeated in an interview with World magazine the same sentiment you gurgled ad nauseam in ‘Edge of Evolution’

Eddie, Vpu is the protein that evolved a new binding site in real time. Did you not know this?

An inactive scientist who blatantly misrepresented the evidence, which she clearly pointed out. He deserved every bit of it.

Even more falsehoods!

There’s no argument involved, Eddie. This is about Behe misrepresenting the evidence itself.

He did not. He only conceded her objective, substantive point after much hilarious tap-dancing.

You really can’t bring yourself to look at any evidence. Is it because you know on some level that your position has zero evidentiary basis?

Another falsehood. He did not correct this misrepresentation of evidence in the book.

Only in your fevered fantasies, Eddie, like this one you brought out to defend an analogous misrepresentation of evidence by three of your heroes:

I was not referring to the ribosome as a totality, but to peptidyl transferase, which you went on and on about. It’s an enzyme (an aminoacyltransferase enzyme to be exact), and enzymes are proteins…

You swallowed that falsehood whole and regurigitated it. You’ve been conned, but you’re too proud to admit it.


Yes, and “dismissiveness.” And the person who made the claim, Art, has not used Abbie Smith as an example, though everyone else, prompted by Mercer, has been using her for that purpose. The only example supplied by Art was not Abbie Smith. Further, the only example he provides contains zero “rudeness” and as far as I can see, no “dismissiveness”. Art has declined to defend his example or provide any more examples. And since his claim was a general one – he implied that ID rudeness and dismissiveness was common – his failure to provide more than one (failed) example leaves his claim without support.

Alternatively, he could have not replied at all, which was his original course of action. One way in which adults show immature people that they will not tolerate insults and sarcasm is not to reply. Of course, Smith’s defenders would have, and did, take his non-reply to mean that he was afraid of her arguments, but in fact that was not the reason for his non-reply. The reason was because he did not think her behavior should be rewarded. He only replied, finally, because some of his friends requested it. And when he did, after one brief comment about her tone, he focused overwhelmingly on the biological contents.

And you fail to point out that not a single person on “her” side, many of whom were, agewise at least, “adult” like Behe, called her out publicly for her tone. And certainly her “mentor” Musgrave did not. Why do you think that was the case, Dr. Robert? And note that not a single person here (except perhaps yourself, by implication) has acknowledged that there was anything improper in her tone; Mercer and Faizal Ali, for example, celebrate it as entirely appropriate. Do you think they are right, that her tone was entirely appropriate? If not, why are you not expressing at least partial agreement with me here?

You are not reading the reference in context. Read it again:

What do you think he is referring to by “that unpleasant website”? I suspect strongly that he is referring to The Panda’s Thumb, where her sarcastic reply found many champions. And what sex is overwhelmingly represented in the comments section on PT? The male sex. So it would appear that he is using “Mean Girls” to characterize a largely male peanut gallery, and using the word “other” to group Smith with the males there, not to emphasize that she was female, but to emphasize that her tone was “mean”. When I first read his comment, I took him to be saying that she was just as big a jerk, regarding her manners, as the males who were posting at PT at the time. That is, “Mean Girls” was as much a rebuke to them as to her. (And of course, I don’t deny any woman the right to be a jerk; women’s liberation means, among other things, that women are no longer expected to be held by traditionally “feminine” standards of behavior, but are allowed to be arrogant, swaggering jerks, just like many men. But while it’s any woman’s right to behave that way, it remains a sign of immaturity for any aspiring scientist to behave in that way toward other scientists.)

At no point did Behe suggest that she was a “bubblehead” or comment on her intelligence. He commented very briefly on her manners, and then addressed her arguments.

That says nothing about here expertise. But be that as it may, her expertise was clearer greater than Behe’s. Yet he felt qualified to write a book in which he made claims about virology that were obviously false even to an undergrad.

Hee, hee. You’re so cute. Simple question: Did Behe acknowledge the error that Smith pointed out in his initial response to her? You seem to make no mention of this rather crucial point in your fanciful revision of the history of this episode.

Here is a helpful article for you to read:

Personally, I don’t see anything inappropriate about here tone. First of all, she is writing on a personal blog, not in an academic journal. Secondly, I think the irreverent tone is appropriate as a ploy to puncture the inflated ego and self-importance of the ID’ers, who insist on being treated like serious scholars and scientists without doing any of the work to justify being treated as such. Treating them with a respectful tone only helps them further their agenda, and risks confusing onlookers who might get the impression that ID’ers should be treated seriously.


He did no such thing. He obfuscated.


Behe knows full well who his audience is. It is NOT scientists or scientifically informed people. Rather, it is people like @Eddie, who are incapable of and/or uninterested in understanding the scientific aspects of the topic, but who view acceptance of evolution as primarily a theological and moral issue. As such, these people are easily bamboozled by obfuscation regarding the scientific evidence and misdirection to the supposed “tone” of the criticisms the ID have received. This is, of course, a time-honoured tradition of the DI and we see it in practice in the episode that led to the present discussion, which is Gunter Bechly’s response to @Art’s having met the challenge he had posted. Bechly used “tone” as a pretext to avoid responding in a venue where he would be held accountable for any errors he would make. I wonder if anyone can point out where @Art was in any way rude or dismissive in his initial comment. As far as I can see, he is nothing but polite, respectful and professional:


Of course he had that choice but he reply and did so in an immature manner.

Does this sound like a mature professor?

Perhaps it was, perhaps it wasn’t. We will never know for sure.

His friends provided good advice.

The comment was immature.

My comment pertained to a student who was “not up to par in proper decorum” and a professor who should have known better.


We do know for sure that Eddie is obfuscating here, because It wasn’t about arguments, it was about Behe’s objective misrepresentation of the evidence itself.


Am I the only one who thinks all this pearl-clutching about Abbie Smith’s tone comes across as a bit geriatric? Again: She was not writing an academic paper. She was writing a post on a blog and, therefore, used language and writing style that is appropriate and customary for that medium.

I am reminded of an article in Harper’s from several years ago. Unfortunately, I cannot recall the author but he was a university instructor and the topic of the article was his efforts to teach young, and particularly racialized, students to write in an academic style that many of them saw as a vestige of the European colonial past. The author’s position was that this was the existing lingua franca in a particular context, and must be learned if one wishes to function in that context. He saw the inability to write in this style as a linguistic deficit. However, he saw as equally impaired a kid who, after he strikes out in a baseball game, responds by exclaiming “What an utterly dreadful turn of events!” This child is using language just as inappropriate to the context as he would be if he was using slang and obscenities in an academic article. That is to say, both are examples of a cognitive limitation in one’s ability to use language appropriately.

I think some people in this discussion are chastising Smith for not speaking like that kid in the baseball game.


Yes, Dr. Robert, you admit that about Abbie Smith’s words now, a decade or more after she uttered them. Did you say that about her words then? Did anyone say that about her words then? Search Panda’s Thumb, TalkOrigins, the blogs of Coyne, P. Z. Myers, Rosenhouse, BioLogos, etc. Tell me which of the people from the anti-ID crowd chastised her for her lack of decorum, and explained to her that scientists should not speak in that way to each other? Which people here wrote to her, even if only privately, to tell her to tone it down? I’m betting the answer is: none. And I have a pretty good idea why this would be the case.

In other words, the ends justify the means. This is a common theme in your writing about ID.

Aside from the fact that your general principle here is odious, ask yourself what it would be like if it were applied to yourself. For example, by your own admission, you have not published any peer-reviewed scientific articles (or if I misunderstood earlier statements of yours, you can correct this). Yet you write in tones of great certainty about scientific matters, including matters well outside your field of psychiatry. (In fact, almost always outside your field.) So I and others might well be inclined not to include you among “serious scholars and scientists” (to use your phrase). Would my belief that your contributions to any science (including, I suspect, psychiatry, though I don’t insist on that) are negligible justify my writing to you with rudeness? If you answer is “Yes, if that’s what you believe, it’s fair game for you to be rude to me,” then your defense of Smith’s childish behavior is at least consistent. But if your answer is, “No, personal edge has no place in discussions of scientific matters,” then you aren’t being consistent.

You seem badly confused regarding the topic of this discussion. When I entered this discussion, I was responding to just one comment, Art’s comment that DI people (he spoke as if it were common) were rude and dismissive to students and trainees. I asked him for an example. He gave only one: Bechly’s piece on Discovery. I saw no rudeness in that piece. I saw no dismissiveness, either. I asked Art to show us the rudeness or dismissiveness in the document he cited as evidence. Art has not responded. Why hasn’t Art responded? Indeed, why has no one here shown any rudeness or dismissiveness in that Bechly piece?

Art put a claim on the table, and then, when asked to defend it, vanished from the debate. If he has no intent of defending the claim, he should retract the claim.

No, nobody here is doing that. And the example is a silly one, since a comment on one’s unsuccessful baseball swing has nothing in common with comments about viruses and mutations etc. uttered in a theoretical discussion. Nobody (certainly not any ID proponent) expects a baseball player to sound like a scientist debating a theoretical or empirical point.

So insults, sarcasm, mockery, attempts to humiliate others are “appropriate” for the blog posts? That’s your defense of Smith, that she wasn’t writing like a rude adolescent in a scientific paper, but was writing like a rude adolescent in a blog post, and therefore her behavior was acceptable?

Thanks for acknowledging this, and for your research.

[Question later added by author:}

By the way, Ron, on the page you linked to, I saw much talk about what Abbie Smith said, but I did not see any posts by Abbie Smith (unless she was writing under a pseudonym). Did you find anything more by her?

One of the statements attributed to her on the site (regarding another female scientist) was disgusting, worse than anything she said to Behe. But I had read some of her other comments back during that period, and came to the conclusion that she was a vulgar show-off, and it’s not really all that surprising to me that she would use such language (if she did). If I had a daughter like her, I’d be far more embarrassed by her public conduct than proud of her scientific achievements. But her parents may differ, depending on their set of values.

If I had written a book on, I don’t know, say Medieval History, despite having no training in the field, in which I made grandiose claims that none of the experts in that subject know what they are doing and I know better?

And to support my position I made a number of blatantly erroneous claims that any undergrad student of Medieval History would be able to identify?

And then one such student decided to write a blog article correcting my error?

Then yes, she would be justified in treating me as rudely and dismissively as she wished. I would have deserved it, since I had in effect insulted her and everyone in her field.

No, I am not confused. As should have been clear, I was pointing out the tactics Behe used to avoid acknowledging the school boy error he made in his book are part of a consistent pattern of behaviour by DI members, and that it continues up to the present day.

And, once again, the point completely evades “Eddie” like a groundball dribbling thru Bill Buckner’s legs in the 1986 World Series. (I wonder if his response was “How perfectly dreadful!”)

Yes, especially when addressing puffed up charlatans with delusions of grandeur like Michael Behe. They need to be taken down a notch or two.

All Behe had to say was “I offer my sincere thanks for identifying that error. It will be corrected in future editions of the book.” I wonder why he didn’t do that?


Founding member of the ‘SlymePit’. If you don’t remember them, it’s for the best. Extremely toxic group. I hadn’t thought of them for so long I didn’t recognize the name. If you must know, check the RationalWiki page.

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