West: Review Borders on Fraud?


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #1

Continuing the discussion from Darwin Devolves: The End of Evolution?:

@NLENTS here is #5. They say our review borders on fraud.

Perhaps Swamidass and company didn’t find Behe’s responses to Miller convincing. But to fail to acknowledge that he has actually responded to Miller borders on academic fraud. I will give the authors here the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps Swamidass and company didn’t bother to look at the book they cited to claim that Behe ignores Miller’s critique. In that case, their falsehood wouldn’t be intentional. It would just be sloppy and unprofessional. Either way, their failure to acknowledge that Behe has responded to Miller doesn’t reflect well on them.

It seems he might have missed this: Darwin Devolves: Miller's Coagulation Pathway Proposal.

I’m fairly surprised how ugly this has gotten. He also writes:

But here again, Behe has responded extensively to Durrett and Schmidt. He even demonstrated that Durrett and Schmidt made a calculation error, which “introduce[d] a 30-fold underestimate of the waiting time” in their estimate, an error Durrett and Schmidt later conceded. Again, perhaps Swamidass and his co-authors aren’t convinced by Behe’s responses to Durrett and Schmidt. But remember that the larger point Swamidass and company are trying to make is that these are examples where Behe has ignored evidence that goes against his views. To fail to acknowledge that Behe has in fact responded on these points is indefensible.

He is not responded to them IN HIS BOOK. He did not alert readers to these controversies, and just asserts that he is correct. We would love to engage in dialogue with Behe and the DI on these points. We have invited them before, and are still willing.

Perhaps Swamidass and his co-authors will respond that Behe didn’t include these responses in his new book.

That is our point.

On another note, some one needs to remind West that I am not a Darwinist.


I Agree With Behe
Behe, Swamidass, and Berean
(S. Joshua Swamidass) #2

He does give us credit for this:

For the most part, it refrains from making ad hominem attacks on Behe. It actually tries to focus on science. That may seem a small accomplishment. But considering how the debate over ID usually plays out, it is no mean feat.

Common ground :smile:


(Nathan H. Lents) #3

Yes, I just saw the article, but I couldn’t make it to the end. I have a strict “three falsehoods and I’m done” policy. I’m not surprised at all, though. I figured it would get this bad. It’s what they do. They’re really showing their desperation. This is not how someone acts when they’re confident in their position.


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #4

The thing is, we let the know up front that there was a tight word limit and we’d like to clarify any questions they have. We would even note any errors we made, if needed. Unfortunately, they have not wanted to understand what we meant before publishing several (current count is 5) defensive articles. Sadly, West knows there are legitimate reasons we would have said these things (and even mentions this in his article) but goes straight to suggesting “fraud.”

One of the rhetorical tactics here is that they are claiming our critique can be dismissed because we didn’t take the time to actually understand them. Look, we want to understand. We just asked to go to their summer workshop (Lents and Swamidass Apply for Discovery Insitute's 2019 Summer Seminar). We have invited them into dialogue several times (Inviting Behe and Axe into Dialogue). We read their book closely, and also followed Behe’s work over the last 2 decades too.

Perhaps we do understand his argument, and we do know his history, and we just disagree. Perhaps we did not have enough space in 750 words to explain ourselves fully.

I’d hope that we could understand each other better. When will they show up to the table for some conversation? I’m entirely sure that lobbing aggressive articles our way is not helping things. Let’s try and understand each other.

@pnelson, @agauger, @bjmiller, and @kirk, please let DI, Axe, and Behe know that we continue to desire dialogue with them. We don’t have to be enemies. We just disagree on the science, but we want to treat you fairly and accurately represent you. Come reason with us.


(S. Joshua Swamidass) split this topic #5

5 posts were split to a new topic: Nathan Feels Left Out


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #8

Perhaps Swamidass and company didn’t find Behe’s responses to Miller convincing. But to fail to acknowledge that he has actually responded to Miller borders on academic fraud. I will give the authors here the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps Swamidass and company didn’t bother to look at the book they cited to claim that Behe ignores Miller’s critique. In that case, their falsehood wouldn’t be intentional. It would just be sloppy and unprofessional. Either way, their failure to acknowledge that Behe has responded to Miller doesn’t reflect well on them.

For making a charge of fraud, this is a mess of a case. West already admits that he hasn’t even read Behe’s book. We certainly did.

I can tell you that Behe does not explain Miller’s mechanism for evolving the coagulation system, or explain what is wrong with it IN THE BOOK. He spends his time explaining whether or not the coagulation system is IC1 or not (Which Irreducible Complexity Argument?). This is a nonsequitur, because we already know that IC1 systems are evolvable. Given that the entire appendix is an attempt to give an update on the IC argument, this is a gross ommission. It distracts from what the real critique from the scientific community has been.

Our point has not been that Behe has never responded in a blog post to each and every point we raised. Rather,

  1. IN THE PAST, he has not responded adequately to these critiques in the past (AND WE LINK TO A REVIEW OF THIS TOO: Braterman: Moving Goal Posts on Irreducible Complexity),

  2. IN THE BOOK, he does not alert readers to these critiques and the controversy, giving the impression the IC argument is unanswered, and

  3. IN THE BOOK, his devolution argument depends on the IC argument being valid. The IC argument, however, is not valid. We know this from direct experiments. This breaks his devolution argument entirely.

So this is not an off topic swipe. Behe’s starting premise is that his first two books are correct, but they are not.


(S. Joshua Swamidass) split this topic #9

5 posts were split to a new topic: Comments on Darwin Devolves Fraud


(Nathan H. Lents) #12

Actually, having reflected on the last piece on EN, I am now rethinking any association with the DI, even a hypothetical conversation. I’m sorry @Agauger and @pnelson. I was hoping we might get somewhere regarding a dialog toward understanding each other, but that last article, and in particular the headline, is way, way over the line. Besides the blatant falsehoods, it is meant as a pure smear. It’s mean and it’s libelous. This is new low for the DI. I may have been snarky on my worst days, but I have never said anything like that. Shameful.


(Curtis Henderson) #13

According to Mr. West:

The authors first claim that Behe “fails to mention Kenneth Miller’s simple, elegant scheme” for the “stepwise evolution” of the blood-clotting cascade, clearly leaving the impression that Behe hasn’t responded to Miller anywhere, not just in his new book.

As @swamidass has mentioned a couple of times already, the review was OF. THE. BOOK! There is zero implication in the statement that Behe has not addressed blood clotting anywhere else. ENV is busily constructing strawmen and wailing in strident voices about their unfairness. It has been mentioned that posting multiple articles skews the Google search engine, which is about the only logical explanation I can see regarding the responses to the review written over the last several days.

Eagerly awaiting your thoughts, @Agauger and @pnelson.


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #14

One of the great advantages of having the e-book version is that we can search its text. I just checked again to be 100% sure.

The only time Miller is referenced is in reference to the Flagellum. No mention of his proposal is made in the update on Irreducible Complexity of the Coagulation pathway. This is all a grand distraction, because have clear pathways and mechanisms (Muller’s Two Step and exaptation) for the evolution of IC systems. Behe does not engage with these critiques, nor does he alert the readers to them. His entire Devolution argument depends on IC, so this is crumble point for his argument.


Darwin Devolves: Miller's Coagulation Pathway Proposal
(S. Joshua Swamidass) #15

Another fun fact, there is zero mention of any of these words, or any of their variants:

  1. Exaptation
  2. Excapt
  3. Co-opt
  4. Coopt
  5. Muller or Orr

This is a great example of a key concept that is essentially unmentioned. This cuts to the core failure point of IC. Behe assumes that structures must always have had the same function. His logic does not work if we can change functions of structures. For this reason, he has to avoid discussion of exaptation.

In case you are wondering, no mention of Muller’s Two step, which was first pointed out to Behe by Orr.


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #16

Here, John West notes that he has not even read Behe’s book yet, while he suggest our review borders on fraud.

I was convinced after reading it that Behe must be onto something in his new book, even though I haven’t had the opportunity to read it yet.