Thursday, November 22, 2012

I Get Mentioned, Again, on an IDiot Blog

The nameless people at Evolution News & Views (sic) didn't like my comments about Michael Behe. Naturally they focus right in on defending the IDiot science (not!) [Giving Thanks for Minority Opinions]. (The reference to "thanks" is in honor of today's American Thanksgiving holiday.)
When in the future they write the history of modern biology, if it turns out that contemporary ID theorists were onto something big, then Michael Behe's name will figure very prominently as one who helped launch the intelligent-design revolution.

When that history is written, whatever fate holds in store for ID, no one thinks that University of Toronto biochemist Larry Moran's name will figure prominently in any account as a thinker of great stature or influence.

So there's some irony in Moran's patronizing three-part series, at his blog Sandwalk blog, about meeting Mike Behe when the latter came to visit and speak recently in Toronto. Moran is full of condescension and, sticking to the science as always, carefully points out the discrepancy in physical stature between himself and Behe where Moran does have the advantage -- "He's a lot shorter than I imagined but otherwise looks just like his photos." Moran includes a photo of himself leaning over Behe with a smirk to prove the point. Well then!


24 comments:

  1. So, how does this work? Behe, whose views are so fring his own department at Lehigh University have disowned them, might someday become famous in the unlikely event that the entire scientific community decides to start doing theology instead of science, and, therefore, we should treat him with greater deference that just another tenured university professor like Larry?

    Riiight!

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  2. "Sticking to the science as always" - I know they meant that sarcastically, but how dare you!

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  3. Actually, I thought that Larry was very restrained in articulating any signs of pre-judgement, until Behe hung himself by describing his same-old ideas that had long been refuted.

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  4. "When in the future they write the history of modern biology, *if* it turns out that contemporary ID theorists were onto something big, then Michael Behe's name will figure very prominently as one who helped launch the intelligent-design revolution."

    Don't worry, it won't. And Behe's name will only figure as a prominent example of Irreducible iDiocy.

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  5. Michael Behe: Larry Moran. I expected someone with your reputation to be a little... older.

    Larry Moran: Michael Behe... you're shorter than I expected.

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  6. Stonyground says:

    Behe is doing nothing but reworking the god of the gaps argument. There are things that we can explain with science and there are things that we can't, yet. I seems likely that we will never find an explanation for everything, but there is no reason to think that such explanations are not possible in principle. So far, every single new explanation has turned out to be 'Not God'. How likely is it that some time in the future, some scientist will publish a paper in a peer reviewed journal that says, microscopic bug with outboard motor, Behe was right, the answer turned out to be God this time?

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  7. "if it turns out that contemporary ID theorists were onto something big"

    If.
    According to QI the original laconic reply.

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  8. When in the future they write the history of modern biology, if it turns out that contemporary ID theorists were onto something big, then Michael Behe's name will figure very prominently as one who helped launch the intelligent-design revolution.

    Ah, those golden days when hopes ran high of an ID revolution with Behe as one of its champions in the vanguard.

    Until it all went horribly wrong in the Debacle at Dover where the high spot was Behe's remarkable impression of the The Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

    I thought they'd abandoned the whole 'ID revolution is just a matter of time' thing shortly after that.

    The discrepancy of stature pic is just a bit of Moran mischief, rubbing salt into the wound by symbolizing how ID has been forced to concede the moral high ground to evolutionary science.

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    1. What moral high ground?.... The Darwinian view that some races are better than others? Or the recent comeback of Eugenics using evolution as is mantra? That high ground? Or is it the high ground that if you believe the fairytale you're of a better intellectual stock and anyone that disagrees is stupid?

      As a naturlist you can lay no claim to anything because everything is purposeless and everything is an accident. Try not to copy ideas from religion when you are trying to make a point. You see you have no standing on matters like moral high ground if you don't have an a objective standard to measure it against.

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    2. "What moral high ground?.... The Darwinian view that some races are better than others?"

      You mean the political ideological view that misrepresents and abuses Darwinism and states that some races are better than others. Be honest. Theory of Evolution is about mechanisms, it states nothing specific about species or "races". Those specifics are obtained by analysis of physiology, anatomy, etc, which in themselves are not mechanisms of evolution but products. Don't confuse them. Also, I could just as well point out that religion can also be used to promote racism, as you well know. The KKK was nominaly christian, the church dd little to avoid slavery for 500 years and many "Jews" see themselves as the "chosen race".

      "Or the recent comeback of Eugenics using evolution as is mantra?"

      What Eugenics? You mean gene therapy or something? In that sense, eugenics can be a good or bad thing. It's bad if used to promote racistic views (race X is superior to race Y and so Y should be erradicated or curbed) and good if it is used as a helath program to erradicate genetic diseases from the whole human population. Eugenics in this sense is far more complicated than the simplistic view that you seem to promote.


      "You see you have no standing on matters like moral high ground if you don't have an a objective standard to measure it against"

      And what "objectivity" is there in following the ten commandments? Is it objective to choose between Christianity and, say, Hinduism? The only criteria you have is "I have FAITH that I'm right in choosing god X over god Y". What's objective about that? What if your god is the god of Spinoza, a deistic conception? What objective morals come from such a creator? Also, do you see any intrinsic value in a particular moral view or you just follow a particular path because your god said so? If the bible stated rape was good, would that be acceptable to you because it's objective and direct from gods mouth, or YOU use an external sense of right and wrong to evaluate what your god tells you do?

      Things aren't as black and white as many people make them out to be, even theists.

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    3. "What moral high ground?.... The Darwinian view that some races are better than others? Or the recent comeback of Eugenics using evolution as is mantra?"

      C'mon, are you serious? Science is a descriptive endeavor, not a normative one. Look up "is-ought fallacy" or "fact-value distinction" to learn the difference.

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    4. @anonymous

      Try not to copy ideas from religion when you are trying to make a point.

      I hope I have more common decency than that.

      Is this an example of a religious idea I shouldn't copy ?


      From the Autobiography of Mark Twain page 212:

      In my schoolboy days I had no aversion to slavery. I was not aware that there was anything wrong about it. No one arraigned it in my hearing; the local papers said nothing against it; the local pulpit taught us that God approved it, that it was a holy thing, and that the doubter need only look in the Bible if he wished to settle his mind – and then the texts were read aloud to us to make the matter sure; if the slaves themselves had an aversion to slavery they were wise and said nothing.

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    5. Anonymous Thursday, November 22, 2012 10:25:00 PM

      What moral high ground?


      The moral high ground you abandon when you distort, misrepresent and flat out lie about your opponents positions. Christians claim to hold themselves to higher moral standards than, say, atheists, yet we have Jonathan Wells notoriously admitting to taking up science with the express purpose of destroying Darwinism. Granted he is a Moonie, but how many atheists, to your knowledge, have entered the clergy with the express purpose of destroying Christianity?

      The Darwinian view that some races are better than others?"

      Yes, the full original title of Darwin's seminal work was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. where the "Favoured Races" referred to those populations, as we would now call them, that were better fitted by natural selection for survival than their competitors. And his book was a description and provisional explanation of what had been observed. It did not necessarily imply approval, on moral or any other grounds.

      Or the recent comeback of Eugenics using evolution as is mantra? That high ground?

      I haven't noticed eugenics making any kind of a comeback. Has anyone else?

      Or is it the high ground that if you believe the fairytale you're of a better intellectual stock and anyone that disagrees is stupid?

      You can find arrogant, egotistical assholes on both sides of the debate if you look closely but I don't regard myself as somehow superior to others on intellectual or any other grounds. I certainly don't think of myself as belonging to some special or Chosen People, unlike some faiths I could name.

      As a naturlist you can lay no claim to anything because everything is purposeless and everything is an accident.

      I'm not trying to lay claim to anything but what does it matter whether or not some god or alien super-intelligence had some purpose in mind? If they can do it, why can't we? Why should their purpose count for more than anything we could come up with? Suppose, instead of being a chosen people, we are just one of a myriad of life-forms evolving in a universe-sized Petrie dish for the amusement of a bored super-intelligent macro/microbiologist?

      Try not to copy ideas from religion when you are trying to make a point.

      Why not? Religions seem to have no problems about borrowing or absorbing ideas from other beliefs.

      You see you have no standing on matters like moral high ground if you don't have an a objective standard to measure it against.

      Nobody does. There is no such thing as an objective moral standard to measure it against. Just like beauty, it's all in the eye of the beholder.

      Of course, all human beings have certain basic needs and interests in common so it's not surprising to see certain moral principles continually emerging in human cultures. That doesn't make them objective, however, not by any usual meaning of the word.

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    6. Nothing beats hitting a nerve with irrational people..... and yes Darwin was a racist, I'm confident that not one of you have ever read Descent of man.....

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    7. I'm confident that your confidence is misplaced.

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  9. What moral high ground?.... The Darwinian view that some races are better than others?
    You'll find no definition of "better races" in any textbooks on evolution. In fact, the findings of modern genetics has pretty much dispelled any "favored race" myths completely by showing how we are all basically the same underneath.

    Funny how Christian slavers were so massively overrepresented in white slave-owning communities. Funny how the bible not only condones and commands taking slaves but also gives instructions for how to treat them.

    Yes, your iron-age scriptures condones actual ownership of another thinking human being, and speaks frequently about things such as "god's chosen people" and "holy lands" designed and intended for special favored tribes.

    There's a couple of nice little god-ordered genocides in there too, including the command to take their sweet, juicy young virgin girls as slaves after having killed all the adult men and women. But of course I'm sure their virginity was important when they're only goint to sew clothes, prepare food and maybe occationally throw an innocent little neck massage? Right? Right?

    What a fucking joke.

    Or the recent comeback of Eugenics using evolution as is mantra?
    Ohh yeah I forgot, the terrible atrocity of terminating a pregnancy that would result in a sick or maldeveloped child. But of course, a fucking ZYGOTE is a person, right? When does the soul insert itself? At what point in the history of hominid evolution did the human soul start "taking over" zygotes in the womb?

    That high ground? Or is it the high ground that if you believe the fairytale you're of a better intellectual stock and anyone that disagrees is stupid?
    It seems to me you're the IDiot that believes fairy tales. I have no quarrels with thinking IDiots and creationists are otherwise normal intelligent people, that doesn't mean they don't believe in stupid things.

    As a naturlist you can lay no claim to anything because everything is purposeless and everything is an accident.
    I can, and I do. There doesn't have to be an eternal, unalterable COSMIC purpose for something to have a purpose.

    Try not to copy ideas from religion when you are trying to make a point.
    Good point, too much stupid shit is assembled in old myths. I'd rather we have a good intellectual discussion as thinking reasonable adults about what kind of society we would want to live in, instead of having our, slightly too male-oriented and provintial moral code "handed down to us" by an imaginary entity there's no evidence ever existed, 20-30 centuries ago, yet still passed through the interpretations of old, often quite perverted and fallible men.

    You see you have no standing on matters like moral high ground if you don't have an a objective standard to measure it against.
    Of course I do, I just don't have to relegate my authority to an unalterable system of government that includes an eternity of incomprehensible suffering for the victimless crime of not being convinced that a magic super-dad exists by extremely shitty arguments and no evidence whatsoever.

    A system of morality that would include the "test" of a man's blind faith by seeing if he's willing to murder his own fucking children because the celestial dictator isn't feeling loved enough.

    Don't fucking speak to me about "moral high ground" if you're going to offer iron-age bullshit as a substitute.

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  10. A system of morality that would include the "test" of a man's blind faith by seeing if he's willing to murder his own fucking children because the celestial dictator isn't feeling loved enough.

    Especially when the man is praised and presented as an example to follow by virtue of being blindly obedient rather than good in a sense comprehesible to morally sane human beings. So the "objective standards" are arbitrarily dictated by the particular god our Anonymous happens to believe in? That's very objective indeed.

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  11. "When in the future they write the history of modern biology, if it turns out that contemporary ID theorists were onto something big, then Michael Behe's name will figure very prominently as one who helped launch the intelligent-design revolution.

    When that history is written, whatever fate holds in store for ID, no one thinks that University of Toronto biochemist Larry Moran's name will figure prominently in any account as a thinker of great stature or influence."

    Sounds a little bit like Pascal's Wager.

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  12. If Earth has been visited by humanoid aliens from outer space, if those alien visitors built the pyramids, erected the rust-resistant pillar of Delhi and the Easter Island statues, then Erich von Däniken's name will figure prominently as the originator of the ancient astronaut theory.

    If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.

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  13. It took me a while to remember this but the notion that Behe's "a lot shorter than [Larry} imagined but otherwise looks just like his photos." and he included "a photo of himself leaning over Behe with a smirk to prove the point" is pretty ironic given David Klinghoffer's comments about the Jerry Coyne/John Haught debate:

    I just watched the video [of the Coyne-Haught "debate"]. I don't know what Haught -- who I noticed stands about a head taller than Coyne -- is so bent out of shape about. Coyne is a little cartoon Jewish atheist who makes Woody Allen look deep. At one point he calls himself an "apostate Hebrew." Oh please.

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/11/haught_v_coyne_the_fight_of_th052531.html

    Is it possible for the DI not to project their own failings onto their opponents?


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