Darwin Devolves by Michael J. Behe News, Responses to Critics, Purchasing

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From Evolution.News

Can’t Anybody Here Make Distinctions?

This is the fourth in a series of posts responding to the extended critique of Darwin Devolves by Richard Lenski at his blog, Telliamed Revisited. Professor Lenski is perhaps the most qualified scientist in the world to analyze the arguments of my book. He is the Hannah Distinguished Professor of Microbial Ecology at Michigan State University, a MacArthur (“Genius Award”) Fellow, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences with hundreds of publications. He also has a strong interest in the history and philosophy of science. His own laboratory evolution work is a central focus of the book. I am very grateful to Professor Lenski for taking time to assess Darwin Devolves. His comments will allow interested readers to quickly gauge the relative strength of arguments against the

Polar Bear Seminar: On Retracting — and Not Retracting — Errors 

Editor’s note: This is the final installment in a five-part series taking a closer look at Michael Behe’s arguments that polar bear genes experienced adaptive mutations that were damaging. Find the full seminar here. This concludes our seminar on polar bears in light of Michael Behe’s discussion of them in Darwin Devolves. The book is important, extending the frontiers of the argument for intelligent design, otherwise it wouldn’t justify this extended treatment. Answering Behe’s critics is important too, for the additional reason that their criticisms are almost all ill-founded, and have failed in seeking to besmirch Behe’s scholarship. With opponents of ID, this experience is all too familiar.  As noted in the first post in this series, there is one justified

Philosophers Want Back into Science

They used to be called “natural philosophers” before William Whewell coined the term “scientist” in 1833. During the Victorian boom, it appeared that scientists could work on their own, applying their scientific method to all kinds of natural phenomena, and make great progress independently of philosophy. The two factions grew apart, with scientists sucking all the prestige out of the room with their experiments in everything from atomic physics to cosmology, leading to highly visible advances in things that make a difference in human life: transportation, energy, and health. One might call the 20th century a “philosopher of the gaps” period, with scientists basking in the headlines and philosophy finding less and less to do.  That’s a distorted picture, of course.

Polar Bear Seminar: A Fake Scandal About a Chart

Editor’s note: This is the fourth installment of a five-part series taking a closer look at Michael Behe’s arguments that polar bear genes experienced adaptive mutations that were damaging. Find the full seminar here. After Nathan Lents and Arthur Hunt published their objections to Michael Behe on damaging mutations in polar bear genes, Jerry Coyne wrote his own blog post promoting their arguments, stating: But when you examine the paper supposedly supporting Behe’s claim, you find, argue Lents and Hunt, that about half of them don’t seem to have any damaging mutations, and that perhaps “none of the 17 most positively selected genes in polar bears are ‘damaged’.” After replying to two objections from Lents and Hunt, we now know it’s quite a stretch for Coyne,

Polar Bear Seminar: Unacknowledged Discrepancies, Inconsistent Standards

Editor’s note: This is the third installment of a five-part series taking a closer look at Michael Behe’s arguments that polar bear genes experienced adaptive mutations that were damaging. Find the full seminar here. In their second objection to Michael Behe’s case in Darwin Devolves, Nathan Lents and Arthur Hunt argue that Behe exaggerates the number of positively selected genes in polar bears that are estimated to have suffered at least one damaging mutation. Or to be more precise, they think Behe’s lower limit is overstated, while agreeing with his upper limit. Let’s evaluate their claims. Here’s what they write: Now it’s getting harder to excuse Behe’s exaggeration. Specifically, using one specific predictive algorithm, the authors found that only 7 of the 17

Polar Bear Seminar: The APOB Gene and Damaging Mutations

Editor’s note: This is the second installment of a five-part series taking a closer look at Michael Behe’s arguments that polar bear genes experienced adaptive mutations that were damaging. Find the full seminar here. There is an old joke that goes like this: Question: When does “damaging” not mean “damaging”? Answer: When a peer-reviewed paper in a top scientific journal says over 40 times that mutations are predicted to be “damaging,” but then an ID guy comes along and cites the paper to suggest the mutations are probably damaging. Actually that’s not an old joke, but maybe someday it will be. Anyway, it perfectly describes what is going on right now with critics of Michael Behe and his argument about mutations in polar bear genes.  In Darwin Devolves,

Polar Bear Seminar: Why Behe Is Right

Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a five-part series taking a closer look at Michael Behe’s arguments that polar bear genes experienced adaptive mutations that were damaging. Find the full seminar here. Critics of intelligent design in the little world of anti-ID blogging have fastened onto an exciting meme. The idea is that biochemist Michael Behe made egregious errors about polar bears in Darwin Devolves and in his subsequent posts at Evolution News arguing with critics. Scientists including Nathan Lents, Arthur Hunt, Jerry Coyne, Joshua Swamidass, and Richard Lenski have been promoting this meme. They complain that Behe refuses to acknowledge and retract his errors. Of course, real errors should be corrected, whether by Behe or anyone else. However, a closer

In His Latest Review of Behe’s Darwin Devolves, Nathan Lents Misses the Forest for the Trees

In Nathan Lents’s latest review of Darwin Devolves, published in Skeptic Magazine, the John Jay College biologist reiterates his disagreements with many of Behe’s claims. His criticisms are quite understandable within his evolutionary framework, but his ingrained assumptions cause him to inadvertently make the same errors as do Behe’s other critics. In particular, he misunderstands what Behe actually argues. For instance, Lents asserts the following: claims that random tinkering can never be the source of innovative or even improved biomolecular functioning unless every single step of the way brings clear fitness gains.  However, Behe never makes such a claim. Instead, he argues that the chance of an innovation occurring decreases quickly with the number of required specific

Behe on Darwin’s Finches — A Really, Really Long-Term Evolution Experiment

In his new book Darwin Devolves, Michael Behe writes extensively about Richard Lenski Long-Term Evolution Experiment with E. coli bacteria. At Evolution News, Professor Behe has been conducting an intensive debate with Professor Lenski about the implications of that study.  In a new ID the Future episode, host Andrew McDiarmid talks with Behe about another really, really long-term evolution experiment — that of Darwin’s finches on the famed Galápagos Islands. Download the podcast or listen to it here. Of course finches don’t multiply and cycle through generations as rapidly as bacteria. Still, these birds have been isolated on the iconic islands for some 2 million years. In that time, they’ve generated new species and genera, but nothing novel in the six biological

Does T-urf13 Refute Irreducible Complexity? A Response to Arthur Hunt

Biologist Arthur Hunt is a professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Kentucky. Since 2007 he has been claiming to have refuted Michael Behe’s thesis that irreducible complexity cannot arise by mindless evolutionary processes. Specifically, he points to an example that he maintains is an instance of an irreducibly complex system arising from scratch. The example is a mitochondrial gene called T-urf13, which encodes an ion-gated channel called URF13 that is specific to the mitochondria of maize (the corn plant Zea mays L). In January of this year, Hunt published a revised article online, which can be accessed and downloaded here. And now in a review of Behe’s new book, Darwin Devolves, published in Skeptic Magazine, biologist Nathan Lents at John