• Darwin’s Doubt – Chapter 11 – Part 1

    Apparently, Darwin’s Doubt, is the ultimate god of the gaps argument. The person who gave this to me was mad when I quit and said all my questions about ID would be answered in some chapters. I looked at those and found nothing. Now, all the questions will be answered in chapter 11… or chapter 13 when I finish it. So, let’s get back this complete and utter waste  of trees.

    This chapter is entitled “assume a gene”.  I’m curious as to what Meyer means by this as there is no assumption about genes. But maybe he will explain using correct science, unlike what he has done in every other chapter so far.

    Let me be clear here. I don’t particularly want to do this. It’s obvious that Meyer is a liar at this point. To trust him on anything he says by now just shows how desperate one is to reject actual science. Here’s the thing, even if Intelligent Design has a gram of truth to it, the proponents of it are so poor are supporting it, that it is a waste of time right now. No one, including our friend who gave me this book, or the denizens of the Discovery Institute have come up with  a consistent definition of intelligent design or any notions that tell us anything useful about it.

    This book, is merely an attack on evolution. And Meyer is saying that if evolution doesn’t work, then design wins by default. So far (and I’ve asked for specific page numbers dozens of times now) there is NO EVIDENCE FOR ID IN THIS BOOK. It’s all a false dichotomy fallacy. “X” (which is incorrectly reported by Meyer) is wrong, therefore design is correct. But let’s see what Meyer says about genes.

    His first paragraph opens with reference to Douglas Axe’s work. I find it interesting that, much like Meyer’s mention of Paul Nelson, Meyer does not mention that Axe’s work is in a lab called the Biologic Institute. This institute is completely sponsored by the Discovery Institute, of which Meyer is a leading figure. There’s some controversy about that institute as well, including a rather hilarious report in which a Biologic Institute ‘scientist’ found evolution happening in her own lab[1] and some confusion about what her lab actually looks like [2].

    To comment here, these are not ad hominem attacks. These are legitimate concerns about a group of people who knowingly misrepresent themselves and their work in order to promote an ideological belief with zero supporting evidence.

    Since Meyer doesn’t actually mention what paper of Axe’s he’s referring to here, I can’t comment on the actual work. But suffice to say that Axe’s work doesn’t mean what he thinks (or claims) it means. Here’s a detailed refutation of one of Axe’s papers. Suffice it to say that Axe’s paper really doesn’t do what he claims it does.

    Now we get to the first false claim in chapter 11. I really cannot believe that Meyer still thinks his one paper, that was not peer-reviewed and was just a review paper and was subsequently removed by the publishing journal, most of which has been refuted anyway, is somehow a refutation of biology.

    To sum up, a researcher named Richard Sternberg (or von Sternberg depending) was the lead editor for the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. This is a peer-reviewed journal specializing in taxonomic research. Sternberg had already declared his intention to step down as lead editor. In his second to last edition of the journal, he published Meyer’s paper. The paper was not peer-reviewed. Actually Sternberg stated[3] that

    “As managing editor it was my prerogative to choose the editor who would work directly on the paper, and as I was best qualified among the editors I chose myself.”

    While Sternberg claims that three scientists looked at the paper, he refuses to release the names of those scientists. There are some other issues with Sternberg as well, that leads me (and others) to think that he is not a reliable source.

    So, the firs two things in this chapter are not what Meyer would have us think that they are. He’s taking material that was determined to be useless over a decade ago and still promoting as valid… and hoping no one calls him on it.

    To Meyer’s credit, he does say that the paper caused a controversy. But he lets the reader assume that it was the material in the paper that caused the controversy. Not the underhanded way in which the paper was published.  Meyer says:

    Museum scientists and evolutionary biologists from around the country were furious with the journal and its editor, Richard Sternberg, for allowing the article to be peer-reviewed and then published (page 210)

    That’s not true. Scientists were furious that Sternberg ignored the peer-review process and published a paper without peer-review and in a journal that was not appropriate for the material.

    Meyer then continues the lies by stating:

    Recriminations followed. Museum officials took away Sternberg’s keys, his office, and his access to scientific samples. He was transferred from a friendly to a hostile supervisor.

    When what really happened was that the museum moved his office and he requested and received a different office. Further, at the time of the publication of the original complaint, Sternberg was still researching at the Simthsonian. In other words, he complained about being fired from a organization that he wasn’t employed by and that he was kicked out, while at the same time, still having an office in the facility.

    Indeed, let’s see what Sternberg’s website actually says about his work…

    I served as a staff scientist at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, and from 2001-2007 I was a Research Associate at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. I am presently a research scientist at the Biologic Institute, supported by a research fellowship from the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute. I am also a Research Collaborator at the National Museum of Natural History. (my emphasis)

    Note that the ‘controversy’ that Meyer mentions took place in 2004. So, he remained a research associate for another three years after that incident. Isn’t that interesting?

    Finally, I also bolded his current status. Now where have we heard about the Biologic Institute?  Oh yeah, it’s the research arm of the Discovery Institute of which Meyer is the director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (CSC). I notice that Meyer doesn’t actually mention these associations in the book.

    I wonder why…

    So, here we have a bunch of lies, in the first three paragraphs of the chapter. How anyone can consider Meyer a reliable source at this point is beyond me.

    The next part of the introductory part of this chapter goes into some actual science. Since we’re already over a 1,000 words, I’ll pause here.

    The rest of the series.


    [1] Here. In which this discussion happened: “. As reported by Daniel Brooks, “…she discussed “leaky growth,” in microbial colonies at high densities, leading to horizontal transfer of genetic information, and announced that under such conditions she had actually found a novel variant that seemed to lead to enhanced colony growth. Gunther Wagner said, “So, a beneficial mutation happened right in your lab?” at which point the moderator halted questioning.”

    [2] Since a video of Dr. Gauger was shot on a green screen and a stock laboratory image was photoshopped in behind her.

    [3] The statement made at Sternberg’s website has been removed, but this link is to a book by a fellow creationist.


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