Our Danish correspondent Karsten Pultz’s offers some more reflections on the uproar surrounding the paper by Ola Hössjer and Steiner Thorvaldsen on fine-tuning in biology in Journal of Theoretical Biology, “Using statistical methods to model the fine-tuning of molecular machines and systems.” Pultz had written about this earlier here.
Readers may recall that Cancel Culture let an ID-friendly paper slip through the cracks there, provoking howls from Twitter. A rebuttal letter appeared in due course, along with a disclaimer from the Journal.
Predictably, the Banned in Boston! effect made it the most downloaded paper at the time.
Pultz is responding below to the editors’ defense that they did not know that the paper was friendly to ID. It was good science, so there was apparently no way to tell 😉 :
At Evolution News and Science Today, editor David Klinghoffer offers his view on the Hössjer/Thorvaldsen paper debacle. Klinghoffer focuses on JTB’s ridiculous disclaimer which, and I agree, makes the editors look a bit silly.
My initial reaction when I first read the disclaimer was the same as Klinghoffer’s. I had to laugh.
After following the debate for a couple of weeks and pondering the editor’s action, I ended up changing my view.
Although the disclaimer is ridiculous, I’m now convinced it does not imply that the editors are morons who failed to see that this paper literally has ID written all over, nor do I think it is an action taken solely in order to comply in cowardly fashion with the neodarwinist’s bullying demands.
It is my firm belief that they exactly knew what they were doing. The editors must have expected the furious reaction from the ID opponents and might very well in advance have decided that a disclaimer of this sort would be their response.
For me it is too hard to believe that they weren’t fully aware of the difficult position they were placing themselves in. Everybody engaged with science knows about the controversial nature of any paper that speaks about ID in a favorable manner. I refuse to believe that the disclaimer is what we in Danish call an “oops-solution”, a really bad solution to a problem arising from lack of foresight or bad planning.
I think the editors at JTB knew exactly the consequences they would be facing, but still courageously chose to publish the Thorvaldsen/Hössjer paper, and for that they deserve our respect and kind thoughts. It could actually be that the editors’ action was well thought through, – a response that could satisfy the critics while, which is far more important, avoiding an outright retraction. I could be wrong, but it’s my honest opinion that in all its silliness it was a very wise move by the editors who do not, as circumstances indicate, consider it heresy if ID is being allowed to be discussed in a proper scientific forum.
If we in the ID community are thankful to prof. Hössjer and Prof. Thorvaldsen (as we of course are), we ought to be twice as thankful to the editors who allowed this paper to pass through to publication, – having added a silly disclaimer or not, they probably have done science a favor.
This could be a turning point for ID and I’m rather thrilled that it was a couple of fellow Scandinavians who succeeded in making such an impact.
The editors need not, of course, sympathize with the ID perspective to think that evidence for it should be permitted to be discussed. At one time, that was a conventional intellectual position.
But the Darwinians, as we’ve said here earlier, are an early flowering of Cancel Culture. No evidence may be discussed that may be thought to favor an Incorrect view.