One basic ethical principle is that we should apply the same standards to ourselves that we apply to others. This is a good way of determining if we are being too harsh on those with whom we disagree, and if we are being too permissive with ourselves. I have very high standards of honesty and rigor, and so I want to be sure I don’t apply those standards unfairly.
This basic principle comes up in an objection I heard recently. This quote from @NLENTS was referenced in an inquiry:
This quote is being used as justification for contacting scientists I referenced in the book to solicit comments about the GAE. The fact that I had not contacted these scientists was presented as lack of rigor, and reason for harsh public review at this time. Some of these comments are negative, but from scientists who have not looked at much more than very brief and high level summaries of the book’s claims.
This is a good opportunity to consider a few things about how scientific community works, what negative commentary matters, and how scientific concerns are resolved. I wanted to pose these thoughts and questions publicly for scientists to respond to at this time:
Did I need to contact every scientist I referenced? In what circumstances should critics contact a scientist referenced in a book or article? To which sorts of questions would their response matter?
Should we expect prejudice against the GAE, at least initially, among scientists? Is that prejudice overcome-able?
What peer review did the GAE withstand? Did the book meet or exceed usual standards of peer review?
How should scientific objections and concerns be presented and worked through? Am I meeting or exceeding usual standards of making corrections when errors are found?
What should we make of negative commentary from scientists that have not engaged deeply with the book or my work? Does this undermine the validity in any way?
I do think this quote from @NLENTS is helpful, because it focuses our attention on specific standards of rigor, and on what is different between the GAE and Behe’s last book “Darwin Devolves,” which most of us harshly critiqued in public (Darwin Devolves: The End of Evolution?). Carefully considering this reference to Nathan’s quote, I think the differences are important and show that we have, in fact, applied this standard fairly.
Moreover, the negative comments from scientists who have not looked at the details is expected. We need to focus on critique be scientists that have actually looked in detail of what I’ve written, and note that many of them ended up endorsing or positively reviewing the book.
Still, I’m curious how the rest of the scientific community responds. @moderators will keep us on topic, focused, and limited to mainstream scientists on this thread.