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Oh yeah! Nick Matzke… I remember now… defender of the No Homework Prof!

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From news writer O’Leary:

Biological Information Recently, Barry Arrington had somewhat to say about Darwinist Nick Matzke, who frightened the pusillanimous editors at Springer out of publishing the Cornell papers at the last minute. (see Nick Matzke – Book burner)

Having worked in the publishing industry most of my career, I know very well how pusillanimous editors can be.

Something about Matzke’s name rang a bell, and then I remembered: He was front and centre in the unsavoury business of defending philosophy professor Barbara Forrest from the outcome of her “own goal” when she attacked a fellow philosopher, Frank Beckwith, in the journal Synthese, for allegedly being an ID sympathizer when he had been saying in public for years that he wasn’t. Here is what I wrote, finally, on the whole business: summing up the story:

Barbara Forrest is a pseudo-expert, not a real expert. And I can (and now must, alas) explain why.

Forrest, a prof at Eastern Louisiana University, is considered a big expert on the intelligent design community and the dangers it poses. I put off explaining why she isn’t a big expert, but can’t decently do so any longer.

Skinniest (skip down to the black type if you know): Here, we covered the recent uproar in which the editors of philosophy journal Synthese inserted a disclaimer about published Darwin lobby hit pieces on philosophers Frank Beckwith and Larry Laudan. Forrest, for example, insinuated Beckwith to be an ID supporter, which was clearly false. Beckwith contacted me for help in straightening out his position, and I said I would publish news of any success he had. But otherwise kept my mouth shut. The journal quite properly stuck to its disclaimer and published his rebuttal (“Or we can be philosophers”), so on to other news. But …

But an alternative version of reality was growing legs, then wings: A sinister ID lobby had supposedly forced the editors of the journal to “cave.” From the “Synthese boycott status” page, we learn that 468 academics signed a petition, prepared by Brian Leiter of the University of Chicago, protesting the decision, spurred by the winged claims.

Only there was no intelligent design lobby. It was a phantom, dependent on an alternative reality in which the ID guys actually knew and acted. [They simply couldn’t have, because I was the only one who knew and I never told anyone. – d.]

So all those petitioners and boycotters are being led up the garden path! Plus people who don’t even know what happened are weighing in from all corners, forecasting the death of the journal Synthese. They really believe in the phantom ID lobby. Someone must blow this spook away, if possible.

Puff!: A pseudo-expert is a person who is regarded by a pressure group (in this case, the US’s National Center for Science Education) as an expert. That person can produce very convincing material, better in fact than a real expert could do. A real expert is handicapped by facts, which are more obstinate than the pressure group’s talking points, and much harder to work with.

Relying on a pseudo-expert is okay if your job is to whip up a public. Things get more awkward when you need facts. That’s what went wrong for Barbara Forrest’s defender Nick Matzke. In an attempt to defend Forrest from the journal’s disclaimer, which was widely interpreted as pointing to her work and Pennock’s in particular, Matzke claimed some discrepancy between Frank Beckwith’s account of his views on intelligent design and my account. He had stumbled onto something: Beckwith’s increasing vehemence. But there is no discrepancy, and a real expert would know why. More.

But Forrest didn’t actually need to know all the stuff I discussed there; she only needed to read a fair sample of Beckwith’s comments on ID over the previous five years.

Later, Forrest attracted the attention of New York Times science writer Michael Zimmer but it was difficult—even for such sympathetic ears—to make a very good case for her out of what happened.

So this was one situation that Matzke and others of Darwin’s followers did not bully their way through. The rebuke stayed, so far as I know, and the mag just moved on, as it should of course have done.

Here’s the take-home point for Elizabeth Liddle and others: That is how the Darwin lobby—and Nick Matzke in particular—respond when one of their number has really messed up. They double down on justifying it, blaming everyone but themselves. No surprise, they think that any criticism of their dogma is some kind of a threat to science.

What they want is a world where no reasonable criticism of Darwinism may be entertained, where Darwinists can be just as incompetent, foul-mouthed, underhanded, or thuggish as they please, all the while vigorously defended by a tenured establishment. Join and support them at your own risk.

Note: A surprising number of Matzke’s co-belligerents hold him in deficient esteem.

13 Replies to “Oh yeah! Nick Matzke… I remember now… defender of the No Homework Prof!

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Now Now News, we mustn’t dwell too harshly on Matzke’s flaws right now,,, I hear he is is going though some rough times right now with Darwin’s Doubt reaching the NY Times bestsellers list.,, He may not be the same ole Nick again until he can ruin a few promising academic careers are something along that line.

  2. 2

    Here’s the take-home point for Elizabeth Liddle and others: That is how the Darwin lobby—and Nick Matzke in particular—respond when one of their number has really messed up. They double down on justifying it, blaming everyone but themselves. No surprise, they think that any criticism of their dogma is some kind of a threat to science.

    What they want is a world where no reasonable criticism of Darwinism may be entertained, where Darwinists can be just as incompetent, foul-mouthed, underhanded, or thuggish as they please, all the while vigorously defended by a tenured establishment. Join and support them at your own risk.

    This is simply false, Denyse, as I have made amply clear many times.

    All I ask is that if an ID paper is published as “peer-reviewed” that it is indeed peer-reviewed. I cannot imagine that any ID supporter would want less.

    That I want to suppress criticism of Darwinism is absolutely falsified by the fact that I host a blog in which Darwin critics are welcomed and given authorship status for new posts, nothing is censored apart from spam, malware, and porn, and from which the only bannee to date is a foul-mouthed ID supporter, and even then, only because he posted a direct link to a misogynistic pornographic image.

  3. 3
    Joe says:

    Strange that there aren’t any peer-reviewed papers that support Lizzie’s claims.

    And not surprising Lizzie has to lie like a rug…

  4. 4
    News says:

    From O’Leary: Hey, Joe … Lizzie believes it all herself. There is an important distinction there.

  5. 5
    News says:

    From O’Leary: Elizabeth, I cannot unfortunately take too much more time on this, due to a deadline. But I was telling you how a Darwin lobbyist behaved (characteristically). This is based on direct observation of individuals other than yourself. I did not say that you behaved that way. I wondered whether you even knew about it.

    For any others listening: Most of the suppressed literature discussed in earlier posts PASSED peer review, and that was precisely the problem for the Darwinists. They must not let peer reviewed literature be published in a respected source if it offers increasingly needed criticisms of Darwinism.

    All cults behave this way but cults in science, like Darwinism, are among the most wretched.

  6. 6

    Denyse:

    Most of the suppressed literature discussed in earlier posts PASSED peer review

    Not according to Springer, whose spokesman said that the proposal had passed peer review, not the actual papers.

    But let me be clear: I want nothing other than that papers that published as “peer-reviewed” should actually be peer-reviewed.

    I totally reject any accusation or implication that I want:

    … a world where no reasonable criticism of Darwinism may be entertained, where Darwinists can be just as incompetent, foul-mouthed, underhanded, or thuggish as they please, all the while vigorously defended by a tenured establishment.

    And my personal record supports this.

  7. 7
    News says:

    From O’Leary: Happily, I did not say or imply that you did.

  8. 8
    ecs2 says:

    I think the way this is written could easily be misinterpreted as included Dr. Liddle.

    You have 2 groups referenced in the second paragraph: 1) Dr. Liddle and other observers and 2) Nick Matzke and Darwin lobby.

    Then the final paragraph follows up by referring without specification to one of these 2 groups as ‘they’.

    I think to be fair you might edit ‘they’ to ‘the Darwin lobby’ so as not to project that inference onto your other referenced group, Dr. Liddle and observers.

    PS – As to the behavior in question – suppression of articles of certain stripes accompanied by attempts to discredit those research domains because they don’t have a peer reviewed track record – is absolutely a strong effect. I have personnally seen it in several cases, there have been credible first-hand accounts available in multiple places.

    This is not specific to ID. The most striking thing about Dr. Tour’s comments a few months ago was the statement he advised students not to ‘keep it to themselves’ if they disagree with Darwinian Theory.

    If you want to write a book and then get 1-star reviews submitted by people who haven’t read it, question Darwinian theory.

    If you want your career torpedoed, do same.

    Sadly, from a career perspective, I think Dr. Tour’s advice was very good and students would be well advised to take it, whether it undermines the integrity of their scientific inquiry or not.

  9. 9
    ecs2 says:

    Apologies, that should say ‘second-to-last’ paragraph in my second paragraph.

  10. 10

    From O’Leary: Happily, I did not say or imply that you did.

    Thank you Denyse. I appreciate the clarification.

  11. 11

    Thanks ecs2.

    It may surprise you to know that I do agree that there is a bias in the peer-review. At best, it is a bias against the extraordinary – which I think is fair. The more revolutionary a finding or idea, the more stringent the argument and evidence should be.

    At worst, it is a bias in the opposite direction – high impact journals like to have “novel” findings that will make headlines in popular science news, and it is probably true that the more news-worthy a finding, the more likely it is to be wrong.

    And I also think that it is true that a bad paper that is non-revolutionary is more likely to slip into peer-reviewed publication than a bad paper that is revolutionary.

    That said, the avenues by which ideas can be promulgated are increasingly wide, which I thoroughly applaud. I suspect that the old peer-review system is on the way out, and I welcome the prospect of papers being published along side their reviews, good or bad.

    Although I should say that the most important function of peer-review, as I see it, is to improve papers. In fact many people will first send a paper to a top journal with low expectations of acceptance, but in the hope of getting useful review.

    And occasionally we luck out 🙂

  12. 12
    Joe says:

    Bias in peer-review but still nothing that demonstrates darwinian processes are up to the task.

    Go figure…

  13. 13
    Axel says:

    Nick was very petulant about God. He deplores his ethical standards, and consequently refuses to believe in Him. If there is one person who can really ‘get up Nick’s nose’, it’s God.

    Gets very emotional about Him, and what he, in all his wisdom, considers God’s aberrant world-view and general machinations. Well, they all do, don’t they?

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