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Is Hand Coordination Scientific–if it mentions “Creator”?

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March 4th, Drudge linked to Doug Bolton’s inquisition: “Scientific paper which says the human hand was designed by a ‘Creator’ sparks controversy” which asserts that it refers to:

“a Creator throughout . . . members of the scientific community have demanded the paper be retracted, for its several perceived references to the pseudoscientific theory of intelligent design and a possibly divine ‘Creator’.”

On Jan. 5, 2016, PLOS One published the article: Liu M-J, Xiong C-H, Xiong L, Huang X-L (2016) Biomechanical Characteristics of Hand Coordination in Grasping Activities of Daily Living. PLoS ONE 11(1): e0146193. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0146193

“Abstract: Hand coordination can allow humans to have dexterous control with many degrees of freedom to perform various tasks in daily living. An important contributing factor to this important ability is the complex biomechanical architecture of the human hand. However, drawing a clear functional link between biomechanical architecture and hand coordination is challenging. It is not understood which biomechanical characteristics are responsible for hand coordination and what specific effect each biomechanical characteristic has. To explore this link, we first inspected the characteristics of hand coordination during daily tasks through a statistical analysis of the kinematic data, which were collected from thirty right-handed subjects during a multitude of grasping tasks. Then, the functional link between biomechanical architecture and hand coordination was drawn by establishing the clear corresponding causality between the tendinous connective characteristics of the human hand and the coordinated characteristics during daily grasping activities. The explicit functional link indicates that the biomechanical characteristic of tendinous connective architecture between muscles and articulations is the proper design by the Creator to perform a multitude of daily tasks in a comfortable way. The clear link between the structure and the function of the human hand also suggests that the design of a multifunctional robotic hand should be able to better imitate such basic architecture.”

Four weeks later, evolutionists noticed and mounted an inquisition via a Twitter campaign with hashtags #Creatorgate and #HandofGod to force retraction of Liu’s paper as “unscientific” – for five mentions of “Creator”. On 2nd March, PLOS Staff offered abject apologies:

A number of readers have concerns about sentences in the article that make references to a ‘Creator’. The PLOS ONE editors apologize that this language was not addressed . . . .

On Mar. 3rd, Anxo Sánchez threatened to resign as an editor and Bolton posted his inquisition. P.Z. Myers posted:

“There’s nothing wrong with the data that I can see, but the authors do make a surprising leap in the abstract and conclusion,”

Daniel Cressey commented in Nature: Paper that says human hand was ‘designed by Creator’ sparks concern

Apparently creationist research prompts soul searching over process of editing and peer review. . . . Xiong said that he was discussing the issues raised with his co-authors and would respond as soon as possible. He added, “Indeed, we are not native speakers of English, and entirely lost the connotations of some words such as ‘Creator’. I am so sorry for that.”

On 3rd Mar PLOS caved in, and on 4th March it posted its retraction notice:

. . .experts in the editorial board. . . .confirmed concerns with the scientific rationale, presentation and language, which were not adequately addressed during peer review. Consequently, the PLOS ONE editors consider that the work cannot be relied upon and retract this publication.

How are these actions by evolutionists, Bolton, Nature, and PLOSOne any different from book burning, anti-scientific inquisition, and Lysenkoism?
Why not follow the scientific method, clearly lay out the null hypothesis and proposed model and quantitatively test both?
PS At Archive.org, the Wayback Machine saved the original article as accepted.

8 Replies to “Is Hand Coordination Scientific–if it mentions “Creator”?

  1. 1
    awstar says:

    From the Abstract:

    The explicit functional link indicates that the biomechanical characteristic of tendinous connective architecture between muscles and articulations is the proper design by the Creator to perform a multitude of daily tasks in a comfortable way. The clear link between the structure and the function of the human hand also suggests that the design of a multifunctional robotic hand should be able to better imitate such basic architecture.”

    From a real scientist:

    “There’s nothing wrong with the data that I can see, but the authors do make a surprising leap in the abstract and conclusion,”

    Ah yes, replacing the words “the Creator” by “sheer dumb luck” makes soooo much more sense.

  2. 2
    Sebestyen says:

    Those evolutionists act like a startled flock of chickens. It’s borderline pathologic how they’re kickin’ and screamin’ just because a certain word appears in a paper.

    Anyone who actually reads the paper and still has a working brain cell would see that it has nothing to do with ID or creationism at all.

    What a bunch of twats…

  3. 3
    Bob O'H says:

    Why not follow the scientific method, clearly lay out the null hypothesis and proposed model and quantitatively test both?

    Indeed. What testable model is there for the creator?

    The point here is that notions of the creator are beyond science, so are best kept out of the dialogue. If someone wants to use the scientific method to test the creator hypothesis (and no, before you all suggest it, testing one no-creator model doesn’t do, as there may be other non-creator models that do work), then please do – I’m sure we’d love to see that hypothesis tested. Even PZed would probably want to see it tested (if only because he’d love to see the hypothesis fail).

  4. 4
    Me_Think says:

    This is a clear failure of the editorial team. All that the team had to do was request clarification or modification. On the whole, the paper is good. It should be republished.

  5. 5
    kairosfocus says:

    BOH: Unfortunately, despite what we are commonly taught in school there is no one size fits all and only science THE scientific method. There are methods of inquiry and prudence, but the notion of an all conquering scientific method fails. On the paper in question my glance through finds nothing more than a study of the hand and its operations as a multiple degrees of freedom entity, likely towards robotics. (Those who are about to be on the receiving end of Chinese manufacturing or fighting robots, take due notice.) The origin of the hand is indeed a conundrum for evolutionary materialist scientism as it is as usual fatally challenged to empirically account for required FSCO/I on blind chance and mechanical necessity. Likewise, the prospective robots will predictably be designed as design is the only empirically warranted and analytically plausible source of FSCO/I. But the likely explanation is the Chinese researchers were unaware of the panic mode draconian feeding frenzy likely to be triggered by speaking of a term that reminds ever so many of Him with whom they do not wish to deal or acknowledge. As I said in an earlier comment the over the top dismissal of the substance is symptomatic of a major problem with our civilisation’s academic guild that comes out whenever the shadow of — shudder, panic — God darkens the door step. I suspect, he who sitteth in the Heavens shall laugh first, and will soon enough vex them as he breaks down their intellectual and institutional strongholds erected to lock out The Holy One. What a futile bit of folly! KF

  6. 6
    awstar says:

    BOH said:

    Indeed. What testable model is there for the creator?

    How about using the methods used for material quality control to control thought quality.

    For example, if I have a standard to uphold for threaded screws, I don’t have to test all of them to have reasonable confidence a whole batch of screws manufactured at one time are good enough to sell and use even at the risk life and property.

    Using that criteria, you could view each true scientific finding like those in the PLoS paper as a sample to compared to the standard of your favorite model. When this particular sample is compared to the Theory of Evolution, ID theory, and my personal favorite — to what the Bible has to say about man and his hands, choosing the Bible as having the best explanation would be both the rational thing to do, and the safest.

  7. 7
    Bob O'H says:

    awstar – you’re suggesting a strategy for combining the results of several investigations, but for any single investigation how would you design it so it could explicitly test the creator hypothesis?

  8. 8

    In the creationist conceptual scheme, even when we readily observe a human being creating something, then there is still 0 evidence of a creator. In creationism the act of creation is then attributed to the soul of the man choosing things. The existence of the soul is categorically a matter of faith, as distinct from fact. It would be equally valid to say the man has no soul, in which case the creation comes from a spiritual emptiness.

    But science can be made of how exactly things are chosen, that is still a matter of fact issue.

    So a scientist is allowed to reference the creator, by that he is stating as fact that the thing was chosen to be the way it is. He should then produce theory which explains how this choosing worked. Was it many independent decisions coincedentally making parts coming together, was it one or a few decisions in consideration of the whole, etc.

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