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Some thoughts on the hatchet review of Behe’s Darwin Devolves in Science

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There’s been so much attention around reviews of Darwin Devolves recently that one wonders if anyone who hasn’t read biochemist Michael Behe’s book already will stop to do so.

In their review in Science, Swamidass et al. are engaged in a carefully crafted strategy. They are creating a situation where average practitioners in a field will “know” that they do not need to take Behe’s criticism of Darwin seriously. After all, a major science news organ addressed to average practitioners allows their sort of attack to pass for a review.

It doesn’t matter whether Swamidass et al. ‘s criticism is justified or not. Most people do not really make decisions by asking such questions. They find out what they need to believe in order to stay in good with the people who reward them and enable their lifestyle. They learn not to notice when what they need to believe doesn’t commend itself on the basis of evidence. Not so long as it works for the purpose of social and professional acceptance. In an increasing number of situations today, whatever top people want us to believe works much better for social and professional purposes than alignment with facts would.

My compatriot Mark Steyn explains here: Noticing and Not Noticing

A population can remain faithful to a system like the Darwinian account of evolution indefinitely, while just “not noticing” the problems. “Noticers” are outliers, after all.

However, such a system is vulnerable to certain types of challenge: For example, if believing and following the system becomes inconsistent with surviving and thriving, the population naturally consider alternatives, despite themselves. At Mind Matters, Bob Marks relates how that happened in Japan after Hiroshima.

One of my uncles was a paratrooper in the Pacific theater. His job was to strap 24 pounds of explosives onto each leg and parachute behind enemy lines when the Allies invaded Japan. Unlike the invasion of Normandy, France, on D-Day, there were no friendly civilians behind enemy lines. Even Japanese women and children were trained to attack the invaders with sticks and pitchforks, and fight to the death. It was a suicide mission. But the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki led to the unconditional surrender of Japan so an armed invasion never happened. More.

Yes, everybody was supposed to fight honorably to the death when the Americans invaded. But what really happened at Hiroshima was so new, so different, so terrible, that Japanese opinion leaders realized (and were able to convince most followers) that the sacrifice was useless. The traditional culture in which suicide attacks might prove something was no longer viable anyway. Countless lives were saved as a result.

Later, Japan began to see that victory wasn’t impossible; it would just look very different from what they had expected. They had to beat the Americans technologically in order to triumph. Patriotic Americans would buy Toyota, not Ford, and defend their choices to their neighbours.

Obviously, that’s an extreme example. But it demonstrates that even very traditional people, loyal to an old order to the death, will accept change if the status quo simply isn’t viable any more and change offers a future.

One wonders, do many biologists have independent ideas that Darwinism stifles? If so, they must be frustrated by the need to keep them under wraps or defend them from malign mediocrities for whom mere orthodoxy produces a living.

Nature is so vast and complex, that I believe that if the right people have been attracted to biology, they will indeed have new ideas worth fighting for, even if they are not yet in a position to admit it. Often, the incident that rallies people in such a case is one no one predicted.

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News at Linked In:

I think our people should go on recording and interpreting the evidence from nature according to accepted science-based methods, wherever the evidence leads, irrespective of the fashion.

But never underestimate the power of a malign orthodoxy to prevent truth/facts from getting a fair hearing when their own primacy is at risk. All the more viciously if they begin to suspect they might not have all the answers. – O’Leary for News

I am looking forward to reading Behe’s book and several others soon.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

See also: Science Mag’s hit on Michael Behe’s Darwin Devolves avoids his main point In these times, are you better off knowing the problems or innocently citing approved sources of misinformation as your reason for making decisions? You decide.

and

All together now, Dissenters: Happy Birthday, Darwin! Folks, it’s Darwin Day, when we are told by Darwinians to celebrate “intellectual bravery.” Very well, here is some: Dissent from Darwinism, the vid.

4 Replies to “Some thoughts on the hatchet review of Behe’s Darwin Devolves in Science

  1. 1
    ET says:

    I posted the first quote with the same emphasis over on the “Science” review page, hoping someone there would get a clue:

    Again, as I made abundantly clear at trial, it isn’t “evolution” but Darwinism — random mutation and natural selection — that ID challenges. Darwinism makes the large, crucial claim that random processes and natural selection can account for the functional complexity of life. Thus the “burden of proof” for Darwinism necessarily is to support its special claim — not simply to show that common descent looks to be true. How can a demand for Darwinism to convincingly support its express claim be “unreasonable”?
    The 19th century ether theory of the propagation of light could not be tested simply by showing that light was a wave; it had to test directly for the ether. Darwinism is not tested by studies showing simply that organisms are related; it has to show evidence for the sufficiency of random mutation and natural selection to make complex, functional systems.

    I posted other things he has written to help them understand that A) they are attacking a straw man and B) equivocating. I forgot to add his conclusion to the Judge’s decision:

    The Court’s reasoning in section E-4 is premised on: a cramped view of science; the conflation of intelligent design with creationism; an incapacity to distinguish the implications of a theory from the theory itself; a failure to differentiate evolution from Darwinism; and strawman arguments against ID. The Court has accepted the most tendentious and shopworn excuses for Darwinism with great charity and impatiently dismissed evidence-based arguments for design.

    All of that is regrettable, but in the end does not impact the realities of biology, which are not amenable to adjudication. On the day after the judge’s opinion, December 21, 2005, as before, the cell is run by amazingly complex, functional machinery that in any other context would immediately be recognized as designed. On December 21, 2005, as before, there are no non-design explanations for the molecular machinery of life, only wishful speculations and Just-So stories

    Not one word of that is ever taken into consideration from any of the anti-ID reviewers. Not one of them have taken the time to understand ID because they are too busy trying to destroy it at all costs.

    It’s sad, really.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Train Wreck of a Review: A Response to Lenski et al. in Science – Michael Behe – February 14, 2019
    https://evolutionnews.org/2019/02/train-wreck-of-a-review-a-response-to-lenski-et-al-in-science/

  3. 3
    vmahuna says:

    Well, ya gotta read some more books on WW2. FDR approved spending whatever it would cost to build an atomic bomb for the SPECIFIC purpose of dropping it on BERLIN, because FDR personally hated Germans as a people. The war in the Pacific was a side show, and nobody really cared whether we actually conquered Japan, as long as there weren’t any Japanese troops in California. But back to the bureaucracy of the thing. In 1942?!! FDR signed a memo in which he ordered 2 things: 1) the Atomic Energy Commission would build atomic bombs, 2) the Army Air Corps would drop all of the bombs delivered by AEC. So the fuze was lit, and by the Summer of ’45 the decision Truman had to make was to either: 1) do NOTHING and let the Army Air Corps (by then the US Army Air Forces [USAAF]) find SOMEPLACE to incinerate with the new toys, or 2) sign a new order rescinding FDR’s 1942 order. Truman chose Option 1 because it entailed less chance of complaints from American voters, and the bureaucrats went ahead with murdering even more people, in a new and impressive way.
    As with the pointless bombing of Dresden in 1945, the USAAF would SURELY have dropped A-bombs on Germany if they were ready before the German surrender in May, 1945. But the A-bomb testing wasn’t completed until July, and so the only Axis power that had not surrendered to the Americans was Japan. So they got bombed.
    Note that the incineration of Hiroshima on 6 September was so complete that news of the devastation did not reach Tokyo until 8 September. And so Hirohito and his ministers were just BEGINNING to discuss what MIGHT have happened in Hiroshima when Nagasaki was incinerated on 9 September.
    And so since 1945 the USA has consistently LIED about the bombings, and most Americans are perfectly happy believing the lies. And thus most Americans are also perfectly happy to believe modern humans are descended from (evolved from) monkeys. Unlearning anything that fundamental appears to be impossible.

  4. 4
    News says:

    Vmahuna, I hold no brief for USA Air Force. My point concerns the Japanese response.

    As a group, they realized that they had to change the way they understood success. What worked in the days of the samurai was history. If high tech superiority mattered, they would need to be superior in high tech to maintain their status in the modern world.

    Will it solve all their problems? No. See, for example, Science today: Apologies required for stating the obvious about numbers But it solved the biggest problem they had at that time.

    I am told that they were systematic in the way they went about it.

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