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Bloggingheads 08-26-2009 07:09 PM

Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
John McWhorter feels, with regret, that this interview represents neither himself, Professor Behe, nor Bloggingheads usefully, takes full responsibility for same, and has asked that it be taken down from the site. He apologizes to all who found its airing objectionable.

Update from Robert Wright, editor-in-chief of Bloggingheads.tv, Aug. 30: This diavlog has now been re-posted. The decision to remove it from the site was made by BhTV staff while I was away and unavailable for consultation. (Yes, even in a wired world it's possible to take yourself off the grid. Here's how I did it.) It's impossible to say for sure whether, in the heat of the moment, I would have made a decision different from the staff's decision. But on reflection I've decided that removing this particular diavlog from the site is hard to justify by any general principle that should govern our future conduct. In other words, it's not a precedent I'd want to live with. At the same time, I can imagine circumstances under which a diavlog would warrant removal from the site. So this episode has usefully spurred me and the BhTV staff to try to articulate some rules of the road for this sort of thing. Within a week, the results will be posted, along with some related thoughts on the whole idea behind Bloggingheads.tv, here.

bjkeefe 08-26-2009 07:16 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
PZ Myers reviews "The Edge of Evolution" in two parts: Part I, Part II.

Excerpt from the latter:

Quote:

... I did want to say a few words about chapter 9, where he takes on evo-devo. I waited a bit because I knew that Sean Carroll was writing a review of the book for Science, and I expected he'd go gunning for chapter 9, too—but no, he didn't. I guess he felt as I do, that since Behe's fatally flawed premise was exposed in the first few chapters, there was little point to addressing his incompetent nit-picks later in the book. After all, when the construction crew has built a foundation of tissue paper in a pool of quicksand, by the time you get around to criticizing the roofers for using graham crackers for shingles, you're about out of outrage.
"Out of outrage" pretty well sums up my feeling that Behe has been given a platform by Bh.tv. There was a time when I would have expanded upon how appalled I am at such a choice; now, I know it's not worth the bother.

I've listened to a few seconds of this diavlog, enough to hear John McWhorter call Behe's nonsense "a very important book." I can't remember the last time I lost so much respect for someone so quickly. [Added: I'm reminded of the last line of the excerpt I posted last night.]

claymisher 08-26-2009 07:16 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
Ye gods.

AemJeff 08-26-2009 07:18 PM

From Kitzmiller v. Dover
 
Kitzmiller v. Dover.

Just some starting context for Professor Behe's views:
Quote:


4. Whether ID is Science

After a searching review of the record and applicable caselaw, we find that while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, ID is not science. We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are: (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980's; and (3) ID’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. As we will discuss in more detail below, it is additionally important to note that ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the subject of testing and research. Expert testimony reveals that since the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, science has been limited to the search for natural causes to explain natural phenomena. (9:19-22 (Haught); 5:25-29 (Pennock); 1:62 (Miller)).

uncle ebeneezer 08-26-2009 07:23 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
Am I missing something? I mean I love John McWhorter but wouldn't Sean Carroll, John Horgan, PZ Myers, Carl Zimmer, Neil Shubin, George Johnson, Bob Wright etc., been more appropriate interviewers? Or would none of them do it?

bjkeefe 08-26-2009 07:25 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by uncle ebeneezer (Post 126771)
Am I missing something? I mean I love John McWhorter but wouldn't Sean Carroll, John Horgan, PZ Myers, Carl Zimmer, Neil Shubin, George Johnson, Bob Wright etc., been more appropriate interviewers? Or would none of them do it?

McWhorter says in the opening moments that he initiated this. Blame's all his.

AemJeff 08-26-2009 07:26 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by uncle ebeneezer (Post 126771)
Am I missing something? I mean I love John McWhorter but wouldn't Sean Carroll, John Horgan, PZ Myers, Carl Zimmer, Neil Shubin, George Johnson, Bob Wright etc., been more appropriate interviewers? Or would none of them do it?

I'm betting Behe wouldn't be available for debate with most of the people on that list.

bjkeefe 08-26-2009 07:28 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
PZ excerpts Ken Miller's review of Behe's book.

bjkeefe 08-26-2009 07:31 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
Richard Dawkins's review of Behe's book.

bjkeefe 08-26-2009 07:33 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
Jerry Coyne's review (PDF) of Behe's book. [Added: HTML version found.]

[Added] Also, Jerry Coyne's review of Behe's earlier book, Darwin's Black Box.

AemJeff 08-26-2009 07:35 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 126772)
McWhorter says in the opening moments that he initiated this. Blame's all his.

My respect for McWhorter is diminished by this. Behe has been refuted soundly and repeatedly (see the Dover case, e.g., or specific arguments against "Irreducible Complexity".)

bjkeefe 08-26-2009 07:46 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
Ian F. Musgrave, Steve Reuland, and Reed A. Cartwright review a paper Behe coauthored in 2004.

bjkeefe 08-26-2009 07:48 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
The TalkOrigins FAQ page on Behe and "irreducible complexity."

nikkibong 08-26-2009 07:51 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
Grab the popcorn: this is bound to be a good thread.

(Doubtful I'll actually watch the diavlog.)

TwinSwords 08-26-2009 07:55 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
The reception so far:

http://www.spartantailgate.com/forum...s/lynchmob.gifhttp://www.spartantailgate.com/forum...s/lynchmob.gifhttp://www.spartantailgate.com/forum...s/lynchmob.gifhttp://www.spartantailgate.com/forum...s/lynchmob.gif

AemJeff 08-26-2009 07:59 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 126779)
Ian F. Musgrave, Steve Reuland, and Reed A. Cartwright review a paper Behe coauthored in 2004.

Heh. (This is in reference to a Behe paper mentioned as a prior to this paper.)

Quote:

Although some in the “intelligent design” community tout Behe and Snoke’s paper as the long-awaited theoretical paper (Discovery Institute 2004), it contains no “design theory”, makes no attempt to model an “intelligent design” process, and proposes no alternative to evolution. In reality Behe & Snoke (2004) is an unmemorable investigation of neutral drift in protein and nucleic acid sequences. As we will show, the paper cannot even support the modest claims it does make.

bjkeefe 08-26-2009 08:01 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
Mark C. Chu-Carroll's review of "The Edge of Evolution."

bjkeefe 08-26-2009 08:06 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
Blake Stacey has gathered up a bunch more links related to "The Edge of Evolution." And I do mean a bunch. Great effort.

bjkeefe 08-26-2009 08:10 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
Nick Matzke (via PZ) looks specifically at Behe's malaria claims.

DenvilleSteve 08-26-2009 08:45 PM

two ways a skunk could evolve
 
consider two male proto skunks fighting. Both skunks are equal. Winning the fight or achieving a draw allows the skunk to live another day. Even emitting a slight smell during the fight could drive off the attacker because all other factors are equal. Over generations the smelly skunk gets more odorous and is increasingly able to survive skunk on skunk fights.

the 2nd way for the smell to evolve is for the proto skunk to have a 2nd trait that gives it a competitive advantage. Over generations, for every slight decrease in competitive advantage of the 2nd trait, the skunk gains an equally slight increase in its ability to emit an offensive odor.

bjkeefe 08-26-2009 08:45 PM

Re: This is
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by kidneystones (Post 126788)
how bots try

Points for self-referentiality: 10/10.

bjkeefe 08-26-2009 08:46 PM

Re: Hoping (Hopey)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by kidneystones (Post 126795)
to change (Changey!)

It always comes back to kidley's racism, in the end.

claymisher 08-26-2009 08:48 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
Those guys are adorable.

bjkeefe 08-26-2009 08:49 PM

Re: TERRIFY
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by kidneystones (Post 126799)
you.

No, kidley. I am not "terrified." I'm merely sick of religious nonsense being given such a privileged position, especially when it attempts to pose in scientific clothing that has been unanimously rejected by people who actually know what they're talking about.

Keep rooting for wingnuttery for wingnuttery's sake, though. At this point, you've got nothing left to lose.

bjkeefe 08-26-2009 08:50 PM

Re: Welcome
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by kidneystones (Post 126801)
Michael and John.

Well, John, you've gained kidneystones as a fan to replace the loss of me. I hope that makes you happy.

IRQ Conflict 08-26-2009 09:15 PM

Re: Welcome
 
That's OK. John has a new fan in me as well. Hi John! Thanks for the wonderful and enlightening interview with Professor Behe!

AemJeff 08-26-2009 09:23 PM

Re: TERRIFY
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 126802)
No, kidley. I am not "terrified." I'm merely sick of religious nonsense being given such a privileged position, especially when it attempts to pose in scientific clothing that has been unanimously rejected by people who actually know what they're talking about.

Keep rooting for wingnuttery for wingnuttery's sake, though. At this point, you've got nothing left to lose.

Feh. You posted a series of citations specifically on topic intended to refute an argument. Kidney posted a few oddly formatted, ... what, I don't have a noun, ... a set of posts that add up to an irrelevant ad hominem argument; one that he's repeatedly made to no apparent effect, up 'til now. The juxtaposition speaks for itself.

kezboard 08-26-2009 09:27 PM

BOB MAKE IT STOP
 
Oh, my god. It wasn't enough to have that first Discovery Institute guy on, now you have to get Michael Behe? In my opinion, the most basic criterion for being on bloggingheads is that you should be at least interesting if nowhere near right. Seriously, blow your "irreducible complexity" out your ass. What a useless discussion.

claymisher 08-26-2009 09:33 PM

schism! new site!
 
We've got a few programmers among us (including me). I bet we could crowd-source a new site. It can't be that hard! It's not like we need to FedEx cameras around the world to do this. We can match what Bob's paying his talkers. We could even get bjkeefe and kidneystones to moderate. :)

If this creationism thing keeps up no one will want to be on bhtv anymore. A spinoff site is better than no site for us regular viewers.

Who's with me?

cragger 08-26-2009 09:35 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
Its a bit sad for someone who claims to use a scientific background and approach to continue making the claim that certain biological structures and processes are "irreducably complex" and that no attempts have been made in scientific literature to explain their development when the literature does in fact explore their development.

On the other hand, even if nobody had yet studied these structures and developed theories as to how they developed, jumping from that to the claim that "these are complicated and we don't yet understand their development so it must be magical creation" would remain mighty unpersuasive. Its a bit strange that John McWhorter finds that argument compelling and interesting.

I'm a bit more interested in why one should consider complexity evidence of magic. Why not elegant simplicity? Why should a magically created flagellum have or need components? Why should a cell have or need complex components and structures rather than just magically working?

AemJeff 08-26-2009 09:36 PM

Re: BOB MAKE IT STOP
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by kezboard (Post 126807)
Oh, my god. It wasn't enough to have that first Discovery Institute guy on, now you have to get Michael Behe? In my opinion, the most basic criterion for being on bloggingheads is that you should be at least interesting if nowhere near right. Seriously, blow your "irreducible complexity" out your ass. What a useless discussion.

And when did McWhorter decide he was a scientific expert? What is up with all of his assertions about what's plausible and what's not in molecular biology? Does he really think he could go toe to toe with Dawkins, or PZ, or ERV?

Why has McWhorter decided that this ridiculous charlatan, with a long history of having been repeatedly debunked by by his peers, not to mention his shaming in a court of law (decision written by a G. W. Bush appointee,) is worth a public conversation or an hour of a person's time? I'm forcing myself to watch, but, when I mentioned above that McWhorter had lost some of my respect, I had no idea just how awful his contribution was gong to be to this travesty.

Unit 08-26-2009 09:38 PM

John should learn some economics.
 
John has a hard time imagining how order can emerge from chaos. Maybe he should read Hayek and learn some economics. Incredible orders, way out of bounds for our imagination, arise all the time all around us.

Also if he thinks that the step from protein to complete humans is totally incredible, how does he conclude that there must be a design behind it? If it's so incredible then no one could have ever designed it: that's my reaction.

idnetdotcomdotau 08-26-2009 09:47 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
One thing we can all learn from this edition of Bloggingheads is that rational responses to ID are rare indeed. Anger is a response to a real threat. If ID is a ghost idea with no substance then why bother fighting it so hard? I tend to ignore things that are silly rather than get all worked up into a rage. Try it some time, it's good for the blood pressure.

AemJeff 08-26-2009 09:48 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by cragger (Post 126810)
Its a bit sad for someone who claims to use a scientific background and approach to continue making the claim that certain biological structures and processes are "irreducably complex" and that no attempts have been made in scientific literature to explain their development when the literature does in fact explore their development.

On the other hand, even if nobody had yet studied these structures and developed theories as to how they developed, jumping from that to the claim that "these are complicated and we don't yet understand their development so it must be magical creation" would remain mighty unpersuasive. Its a bit strange that John McWhorter finds that argument compelling and interesting.

I'm a bit more interested in why one should consider complexity evidence of magic. Why not elegant simplicity? Why should a magically created flagellum have or need components? Why should a cell have or need complex components and structures rather than just magically working?


That's a good question, actually. I think John, unfortunately, is somebody whose reason abdicates when his religious beliefs are challenged. That, at any rate, is how I interpret his stance here.

AemJeff 08-26-2009 09:53 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by idnetdotcomdotau (Post 126815)
One thing we can all learn from this edition of Bloggingheads is that rational responses to ID are rare indeed. Anger is a response to a real threat. If ID is a ghost idea with no substance then why bother fighting it so hard? I tend to ignore things that are silly rather than get all worked up into a rage. Try it some time, it's good for the blood pressure.

In various states in the US, ID has been inserted into the scientific curriculum. That is in fact something that frightens and angers me, for one. I take the establishment clause of the US Constitution seriously, and when charlatans promote significant attacks on the border between science and religion, I think the proper response is to do everything you can to refute them.

bjkeefe 08-26-2009 09:59 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by idnetdotcomdotau (Post 126815)
One thing we can all learn from this edition of Bloggingheads is that rational responses to ID are rare indeed. Anger is a response to a real threat. [...]

Sometimes, anger is a response to a real threat. But not all times. One other common source of anger is irritation at having to rebut the same old nonsense over and over and over and over, from people who are too stupid and too superstitious to merit the privileged attention they keep receiving. Read this.

claymisher 08-26-2009 10:01 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 126822)
Sometimes, anger is a response to a real threat. But not all times. One other common source of anger is irritation at having to rebut the same old nonsense over and over and over and over, from people who are too stupid and too superstitious to merit the privileged attention they keep receiving. Read this.

keefe, I don't think yer gonna get much of a response from idnet.com.au

bjkeefe 08-26-2009 10:02 PM

Re: BOB MAKE IT STOP
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AemJeff (Post 126811)
And when did McWhorter decide he was a scientific expert? What is up with all of his assertions about what's plausible and what's not in molecular biology?

Your alarm bells should have gone off within the first minute of the diavlog, when it became apparent that most of McWhorter's previous "knowledge" of evolution came from reading Behe's other book.

bjkeefe 08-26-2009 10:04 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 126823)
keefe, I don't think yer gonna get much of a response from idnet.com.au

Or IRQ Conflict, I suspect. But that's okay. Sometimes it's worth posting a response for the benefit of other readers.

Bloggingheads 08-26-2009 10:07 PM

Re: Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)
 
John McWhorter feels, with regret, that this interview represents neither himself, Professor Behe, nor Bloggingheads usefully, takes full responsibility for same, and has asked that it be taken down from the site. He apologizes to all who found its airing objectionable.


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