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Comedian Dembski

High comedy at UD. In response to Coyne’s response to Behe’s “response” to Coyne’s review of Behe’s The Edge of Evolution in which Coyne says If Behe’s theory is so world-shaking, and so indubitably correct, why doesn’t he submit it to some scientific journals? (The reason is obvious, of course: his theory is flat wrong.) Dembksi continues his comedy routine by saying

Let me suggest another reason: Coyne is wrong and doesn’t want Behe upsetting his applecart.

So…the reason that Behe doesn’t publish his “world-shaking” theory in the scientific literature is because Coyne is wrong. Really? No, not really. Dembski has obviously given up trying to pretend that ID should be taken seriously. When Coyne’s review eviscerated Behe’s book Dembski responded by calling Coyne ugly. He has followed that up with more preschooler-insults. Ooh…the reason Behe won’t put his ideas before is peers is because…Coyne is wrong.

And I thought Dembski was supposed to be the intelligent one of those jokers. This is the best he can muster?

Maybe it is the best he can muster. Behe’s book is a joke. Leave aside all the bad math and gnostic philosophy…Behe claims that mutation can’t produce the sort of variation that is at the basis of agriculture. How do you defend something so ridiculous? I suppose the only way is by resorting to insults worthy of a preschooler. As I have always said, it doesn’t take a whole lot of intelligence to get a Ph.D.

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Standards?

Recently one of the “contributors” at Dembski’s blog Uncommon Descent (I believe it was Dembski himself) made an offer to pay a prize to someone who managed to get a Sokal-style post onto Panda’s Thumb. He accused PT of not having standards with regards to what they will publish.

That said, it was really funny when DaveScot gleefully repeated Inhofe’s tripe about overhearing Clinton and Boxer discussing a plan to “stifle conservative talk radio via legislation”. I’m not sure why anyone would take anything Inhofe says seriously (except for fellow global warming denialists…which seems to be the main focus at UD these days). Of course, having gotten the news out, and having gotten the gullible (if not complicit) media to join in on his misinformation spree…Inhofe can’t even keep his story straight. On one hand he says he heard it the other day, and on the other hand he says he heard it three years ago and he has told this story well over 100 times on the radio, on TV, in the last three years. So it would seem that either Inhofe is getting to the age where he’s a little on the foggy side as to what is going on around him, or he’s just working with Drudge to mislead people.

And as for UD’s Senators Clinton and Boxer learn from Darwin zealots? Learn what it’s like to be slimed by right-wingers who have little respect for the facts? Nah, as bad as the evolution denialists have been, I don’t think anyone has experienced that kind of malicious slurs the Clintons have experienced.

More hilarity at UD

Over at Dembski’s blog, DaveScot trying to “fiskSean Carroll’s review of Behe’s The Edge of Evolution.  (You’d think that reprinting an entire copyright article would be a copyvio, but that seems to be the norm on the far-right).  So far so bad (three posts in) they have zoomed in on:

In Darwin’s Black Box, he posited that genes for modern complex biochemical systems, such as blood clotting, might have been “designed billions of years ago and have been passed down to the present … but not ‘turned on’.” This is known to be genetically impossible because genes that aren’t used will degenerate

Scot takes issue with this in the typical ID fashion – taking an analogy (DNA to computer programming) and assuming that the analogy isn’t an analogy, it’s an actual mechanism.

It’s easily possible. Error checking to insure data integrity to any arbitrary reliability standard is de rigueur in computer memory systems. In my experience most things that human designers have come up with in electronic information processing has antecedents in biological information systems. I therefore anticipate things we’ve invented on our own to have parallels in organic systems and mechanisms for insuring any required level of data integrity is no exception.

He admits that

An organic mechanism for that level of data integrity has not been identified that does not rely on natural selection

but proceeds anyway, saying that

but it appears that the effect of such a mechanism has been discovered recently.

This assertion that a “mechanism has been discovered” relates to this article in New Scientist.  It’s an interesting article – apparently researchers were able to knock of two segments of non-coding DNA which contained “nearly 1000 highly conserved sequences shared between human and mice”, with no discernible effect on the mice.  For sequences to be conserved, there has to be some mechanism which weeds out mutations.  Since conserved regions must be under selection, it’s odd that you can knock them out without affecting fitness, although

Yet the mice were virtually indistinguishable from normal mice in every characteristic they measured, including growth, metabolic functions, lifespan and overall development

Unfortunately, there’s no information about reproductive success, social interaction, stress tolerance, etc.  So while it’s interesting, it’s by no means conclusive.  Of course, Scot disagrees – he touts this as “evidence” of some selection-independent means of maintaining gene sequences, and “proof” that Carroll is wrong when he says that genes that aren’t used will degenerate.

I’d have to dig through the Denialist Deck of Cards, but this seems like a standard denialist argument.   Carroll’s statement is backed up by an awful lot of empirical evidence.  Finding one piece of evidence which could be interpreted differently doesn’t invalidate the generalisation.  As is, cells are known to have the ability to “error check” DNA replication.  If there is another, more powerful error-checking system, why is it only used for a few random sequences of “junk DNA”, and not used for maintaining DNA integrity in general?  Oh, wait, of course: Goddidit!  Of course, that’s the sort of God who intervenes to protect non-coding sequences in mice, but doesn’t stop mutations which develop into cancer… Oh, but wait, ID-proponent Jonathan Wells asserts that cancer isn’t caused by genes, it’s caused by centrioles.  Now it all makes sense!