The Problems & Successes of Intelligent Design (w/ Dr. Joshua Swamidass)

That would depend on the probability distribution. :slight_smile:

That’s a hypothesis. Why isn’t Behe testing it? Millions of lives are at stake.


I am absolutely certain that it is, because in real science, all conclusions are tentative.

That’s genetics, not biochemistry. I’m a geneticist, Behe and you are not.

No. For example, the White and Yang papers are secondary literature.

This is an example of the primary literature that falsifies Behe’s conclusion:

It contains actual data from hands-on experiments, something Behe quit doing >27 years ago. Behe ignores it and you ignore the data in it, looking for some snippet of text you can copy.

What do THE DATA in that paper say, Lee, not the words written by anyone about them?

No, that’s absolutely false. If you disagree, please explain how it would, keeping in mind that my PhD is in virology and I learned (and published) biochemistry in a sabbatical.

I definitely don’t, because he isn’t producing anything other than pseudoscientific rhetoric aimed at laypeople. To real scientists, his books are laughably bad.

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Warning: attempting to discuss prophecy with @lee_merrill may end up with you trying to convince him that this is a rebuilt city, not a desolate patch of ground:

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Well, @lee_merrill is convinced that Behe’s books are brilliant science written by a genius. So I guess that puts you in your place, doesn’t it? You real scientist you.


On the one hand the prophecy is so vaguely defined as to be basically worthless (when exactly would a “nation” cease to exist?), and/or is a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. Like a person who says “I’ll never amount to anything” and then never does anything to change their circumstance.

All religions are notorious for inspiring their followers to stick together against outsiders and instilling in them a victim/persecution mentality. Christians are always making a big deal about how others are mocking them(there is no group of people who don’t get mocked), as if this is a “prophecy”.

Of course it’s also the case that when a particular group really is persecuted often, as jewish people definitely have been, they develop a strong tendency to stick together and even define themselves by their shared experience of ongoing adversity.

None of this needs a supernatural explanation or constitutes prophecy. It’s just group psychology.

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A post was merged into an existing topic: Can Alisa Childers and Randal Rauser be friends?

Well, yes, but just give me the mean per year, and I can still make my statement.

Take an Exponential distribution, say you have waited X years and no event. What is the probability you wait another X years without seeing an event?

Well, it’s memoryless, so it’s e^(lambda * x), correct?

IC. C what I did there?

Behe’s argument has always been that IC1, as you call it, is an argument against Darwinian evolution. I noticed that in your posts on that thread you didn’t directly make a claim against IC1. You instead stated that, “Now, Behe’s ID hypothesis is that IC1 systems cannot be evolved.” No, that’s never what Behe hypothesized. He hypothesized that IC1 systems cannot have come about by Darwinian evolution.

As for IC2, he’s clearly talking about a different thing than in what you call IC1. In IC1, he’s talking about irreducibly complex systems. In IC2, he’s talking about an evolutionary pathway. I’d have to see more context to understand why he called it an irreducibly complex pathway there, but it’s pretty clear he’s not talking about the same thing and did not change his argument or definitions.

Yes that’s true in one sense, in terms of what he said. It’s an assertion he makes without actually testing it.

So the charitable reading is that he is “hypothesizing” this. If you want to change that to “asserts with out demonstrating”, I wouldn’t object.

Yes, and he is presenting IC2 in response to deficiencies in IC1. Clearly IC1 can evolve if it isn’t IC2, which means that even acknowledging that IC1 isn’t perfectly contained within IC2 is an acknowledgment that IC1 isn’t a reliable argument against evolution.

The context is that he was responding to criticism of IC1 by coming up with a new and more refined definition of IC2. Go look up the article I cite. It’s linked.

So, in fact, he is changing his argument. That’s the context.


Yep. Simply put, IC1 and IC2 are very different things. IC1-ness is determined by the physical state of a thing today. IC2-ness is determined by a particular mechanism at work in the history of a thing.

Basically, the argument morphed from “a system we can identify based on its extant traits (IC1) was unlikely to evolve” into “an extremely low probabilty outcome arising from a specific, singular mechanism was unlikely to occur (IC2)”.

Similar, shifting context/ definitions have plagued creationist claims about ‘information’. Lee Spetner is a typical and blatant abuser of jumping between incompatible definitions on the fly to suit any particular case.

It was either really stupid (from the standpoint of maintaining clarity of arguments) or very clever (from the standpoint of muddying the waters) to retain the same name “irreducible complexity” while referring to at least two very distinct concepts.


Correct, meaning the waiting time does not depend on how long you have already waited. :slight_smile: -)

It would be fine if they adopted and consistently used a nomenclature that made the right distinctions, e.g. IC1, IC2, etc.

You’re confusing “harmful” with deleterious. Deleterious means it has a negative effect on the ability of the organism to survive and reproduce. Beneficial means the effect is positive instead. If the mutation reduces some function in degree, or even completely abolishes it, but this has the effect of increasing the ability to survive and reproduce of the organism then this is a beneficial mutation.

This is just what the words mean. You don’t get to make up your own meaning for the words beneficial and deleterious when we’re discussing evolutionary biology, where these terms have established and well-understood meanings.

But that’s what I meant by “harmful”.

But then chloroquine resistance isn’t “harmful” when the parasite is in a host undergoing treatment with chloroquine, obviously. Because it directly increases it’s ability to survive and reproduce in that environment.

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Using different words for different things is s-o-o-o powerful! But…

It doesn’t fit with the ‘never admit error or recognize past bad ideas’ ethos. Behe could have easily clarified this at the start but an idée fixe is hard to change.

And does that strategy work? Well, witness the number of ID proponents (some of them ‘professional’) that persist in conflating the definitions.

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If you mean Venema’s article, that link doesn’t work.

Let me give you my impression of what Behe’s arguments were when I first read his books. I read Darwin’s Black Blox in 1998 when I was a junior in high school, and Edge of Evolution immediately upon release in 2007. At that time I was not seriously engaged with criticisms, but I had read some of them like Matzke and Hunt at Panda’s Thumb. I graduated with a B.S. in biochem in 2005 for some context.

My understanding was and has been for years that though Behe discussed irreducible complexity in Edge, his main argument in Edge was not an irreducible complexity argument. It was a completely new argument. Behe’s argument in Box was focused on Darwinian evolution. In fact as I recall, he specifically emphasized that in the original book. That means it was not an argument against something evolving by non-Darwinian mechanisms. When Edge came out, I was blown away because I thought he was going to update his original argument. Instead he presented a completely new argument. So when you say that he updated and changed the definition of IC in response to criticisms, I feel like you are not understanding him at all. He always knew and said pretty openly that IC only works against Darwinian evolution. Behe feels that the argument in Edge works against any evolutionary mechanisms because it uses a real world example of an opportunity for any evolutionary processes to surmount a serious difficulty, and all it did was the CQR double mutation. He then generalizes that conclusion and suggests a limit for all evolutionary processes. So again, in my view, and Behe’s, the main argument in Edge is not an IC argument. It’s not IC2, and if there’s something he wrote that makes it seem that way, then you might be correct that it’s misleading.

The real difference between 1996 and 2007 was the Dembski, Axe, Meyer line of argument that worked against evolutionary processes generally. Edge was Behe’s take on a probability argument similar to that.

I have a hard time believing he would write an entire book to make such a trivial point. Why not write a book about how physicists should stop using only Newtonian physics, because there might be some other models that work better for some things?

Could you provide a citation or quote where Behe as directly and specifically said that the argument in Darwin’s Black Box only applies to the (by then already far outdated) Darwinian model of evolution, and that he accepts that irreducibly complex structures and systems could easily evolve thru other mechanisms that had been identified over the preceding several decades? Thanks.

Again, that seems a very trivial and silly point to which to dedicate an entire book. I could write a book saying that no animal has ever evolved a set of jet packs on its back that allow it to travel at the speed of sound, therefore there is an “edge” to evolution beyond which such a trait lies. Would you think such a book was interesting or important? Is that really all Behe is saying? Why did that blow you away?