The May 1st issue of Science contains a “News Focus” article entitled “On the Origin of the Immune System.” While describing some current work in the area the author, John Travis, makes liberal use of myself as an unreasonably-skeptical foil. I wrote a letter to the editor of Science pointing out inaccuracies in the story but, gee whiz, they didn’t think the letter would be of sufficient interest to their readers to print it. Below I reproduce the unpublished letter for those who might be interested in my reaction to the article. To the editor: In his article “On the Origin of the Immune System” (Science, May 1, 2009) John Travis makes the same mistake as did the judge in the 2005 Dover trial Read More ›
Dear Readers, In a long book review in The New Republic, University of Chicago evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne calls Brown University cell biologist Ken Miller a creationist. No surprise there — “creationist” has a lot of negative emotional resonance in many intellectual circles, so it makes a fellow’s rhetorical task a lot easier if he can tag his intellectual opponent with the label. (Kind of like calling someone a “communist” back in the 1950s.) No need for the hapless “creationist” to be a Biblical literalist, or to believe in a young earth, or to be politically or socially conservative, or have any other attribute the general public thinks of when they hear the “C” word. For Coyne, one just has to think that Read More ›
Dear Readers, Case Western Reserve University Professor Patricia Princehouse and I recently taped an episode of the program “Close Up at the Newseum”, where we discussed intelligent design, Darwinism, The Edge of Evolution, and other topics with an audience of about 40 high school students. The purpose of Close Up is to get students interested in issues of the day, and to become active participants in our democracy. The show will air this Friday, November 30th, at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time, on C-SPAN 2.
Science has published a letter by myself responding to Sean Carroll’s earlier review of The Edge of Evolution. In my letter I note that: In his unfavorable review of my book, The Edge of Evolution, Sean Carroll writes that “Behe’s chief error is minimizing the power of natural selection to act cumulatively,” and implies that I fail to discuss “pyrimethamine resistance in malarial parasites … –a notable omission given Behe’s extensive discussion of malarial drug resistance. But, I demurred, I did write about pyrimethamine. Carroll admitted in Science right after my published letter that, well, yes, I did discuss pyrimethamine resistance, but his real concern was that I didn’t give it the spin he wanted: Behe did indeed discuss pyrimethamine resistance on pages 75 and 76 Read More ›
Dear Readers, As I wrote in The Edge of Evolution, Darwinism is a multifaceted theory, and to properly evaluate the theory one has to be very careful not to confuse its different aspects. Unfortunately, stories in the news and on the internet regularly confuse the facets of Darwinism, ignore distinctions made in The Edge of Evolution, or misstate the arguments of intelligent design. The disregard for critical distinctions blurs the issues badly. Over the next few days I will briefly respond to four separate stories ************************ 1) A few months ago an interesting paper in Science, “Adaptive mutations in bacteria: high rate and small effects”, by the group of Isabel Gordo demonstrated that beneficial mutations in E. coli were more frequent than had been thought. In fact, Read More ›
Dear Readers, Here I respond to the unfavorable review of The Edge of Evolution by Kenneth R. Miller inNature. Like Sean Carroll, whose review in Science I discussed earlier, he employs much bluster. But Miller goes well beyond simple bluster. I overlooked Carroll’s rhetoric and dealt only with his substantial arguments. This time I’ll do things differently. Today I’ll respond to Miller’s substantive points. Tomorrow we’ll take a closer look at his style of argumentation. After mentioning that de novo resistance to chloroquine is found roughly once in every 1020 malaria parasites, and quoting several sentences from The Edge of Evolution where I note “On average, for humans to achieve a mutation like this by chance, we would need to wait a hundred million times ten Read More ›