Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The Meyer Fiasco, V

Every time I start thinking the The Discovery Institute just can't get any sleazier, they find yet another new low to prove me wrong. They have now weighed in with these comments about Stephen Meyer's article. This essay is dated September 8, meaning they have had time to digest the press release from the BSW that I reported on in part two of this series. Sadly, they don't even mention it.

Instead they are making the preposterous argument that somehow the National Center for Science Education has flip-flopped on the importance of peer-review:

For the past few years the Darwinian lobbyists at the National Center for Science Education (NSCE) have falsely complained that scientists who support the theory of intelligent design don’t publish peer-reviewed articles and don’t make their case at scientific conferences.

“Now an article has appeared in a biology journal that even the NCSE can’t find a way to spin out of existence,” responds Dr. John West, Associate Director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (CSC). “So what does it do? Claim the article shouldn’t have been published despite the fact it was approved by peer-review. Apparently politicians aren’t the only ones who do flip-flops.”

Is it actually possible that there are people who can't see through this? The article shouldn't have been published because all of its major claims are wrong. If it is true that it went through honest peer-review, then what we have is a breakdown in the peer-review process. You will search the NCSE archives in vain for any statement to the effect that peer-review is fool-proof.

Of course, as reported in my previous entries in this series, we now have reason to doubt that the peer-review process was above-board in this case. We know that the editor responsible for handling the paper circumvented the normal procedures of the journal. For now, we have only his word about the three peer-reviewers on the paper.

At the end of the article, Discovery's spin doctors offer this paragraph to rebut the idea that ID folks don't publish in the peer-reviwed literature:

West also points out the spurious nature of the NCSE’s previous claim that supporters of intelligent design have not produced peer-reviewed publications. Mathematician William Dembski published a peer-reviewed monograph with Cambridge University Press, The Design Inference (1998). Biochemist Michael Behe has published his ideas recently in the peer-reviewed science journal Protein Science as well as previously in Philosophy of Science (2000) and And Stephen Meyer edited an entire volume of peer-reviewed articles with Michigan State University Press, Darwinism, Design, and Public Education (2003).

Of course, the NCSE has never claimed that supporters of ID don't publish in the peer-reviewed literature. The claim is that they don't publish their arguments about ID in the peer-reviewed literature, because they know their arguments don't stand up to honest scrutiny.

With that in mind, let's take Mr. West's examples one at a time, shall we? The Design Inference had nothing to do with ID. It was published in a series on probability and decision theory, particularly from a philosophical viewpoint. The Michael Behe paper they are referring to (abstract available here) likewise has nothing to do with ID. It is an amusing piece of mathematical modelling, but provides absolutely nothing that is helpful to the ID cause. The Philosophy of Science article was a reply to critics, it was not a piece of original research. Finally, the Michigan State University Press anthology was published as part of a series on Rhetoric and Public Affairs. The individual chapters were not reviewed for their scientific merits.

People on my side of this issue who still think ID folks should be dealt with courteously need to wake up and pay more attention to this kind of garbage.


At 8:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously now, can anyone please explain to me how a creationist like Richard Sternberg became the editor of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington?

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