Friday, October 21, 2005

Behe castrates himself at ID trial

As with all creationist attempts to insert their babbling into classrooms, it always ends up being decided in court because they are unable to convince anyone in the normal 'peer review' systems all other scientists do. Michael Behe, author of the somewhat interesting work of fiction Behes Black Box (or was it Darwins Black Box?) has claimed on the stand his book went through:
peer review for Darwin's Black Box was analogous to peer review in the [scientific] literature
Oh really? One of the reviewers that Behe cited for this 'peer review' was a Dr. Michael Atchison, who is the head of biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania vetinary school. Of course, I would immediately point out if you're going to criticise evolution in your book, wouldn't it be best to have reviewers who are evolutionists to begin with? Anyway, discrepancies aside let's look at an article published by Dr. Atchison around the same time that the prosecution then presented:

While I was identifying myself as a Christian in Philadelphia, a Biochemist named Michael Behe at Lehigh University was writing a book on evolution. As a Biochemist, Behe found the evidence for Darwinian evolution to be very thin. In fact, when he looked at the cell from a biochemical perspective, he believed there was evidence of intelligent design. Behe sent his completed manuscript to The Free Press publishers for consideration. The editor was not certain that this manuscript was a good risk for publication. There were clearly theological issues at hand, and he was under the impression that these issues would be poorly received by the scientific community. If the tenets of Darwinian evolution were completely accepted by science, who would be interested in buying the book?

The editor shared his concerns with his wife. His wife was a student in my class. She advised her husband to give me a call. So, unaware of all this, I received a phone call from the publisher in New York. We spent approximately 10 minutes on the phone. After hearing a description of the work, I suggested that the editor should seriously consider publishing the manuscript. I told him that the origin of life issue was still up in the air. It sounded like this Behe fellow might have some good ideas, although I could not be certain since I had never seen the manuscript. We hung up and I never thought about it again. At least until two years later.

So in other words, this 'peer review' that Behe claims comes down to 10 minutes on the phone with someone who has never read the actual book. Behes response to this?
Rothschild (Prosecution lawyer): "Is this your understanding of the kind of peer review that Dr. Atcheson did of your book?"

Behe: "No"

Rothschild: "he didn't review it carefully, he didn't review it at all."

Behe: "My understanding is different."

Oh your understanding is different is it Behe? I'm sure it is, just as your understanding of the evidence for evolution concerning things like the immune system and bacterial flagella is different too? Very well done Behe, you just ruined whatever remaining credibility the ID movement had left in one fell swoop. You should feel really proud because it's not often that someone just completely pwns themself in that manner in one fell swoop and in court.

For more trial shenannigans go to the ACLU blog on the case. It's hillarity the whole way through as the ID proponents get eviscerated, usually with their own words too.