Around the Blogs
My fellow evolutionbloggers have been producing so much great stuff lately, that I think I'll just mooch off them today.
Over at Pharyngula P. Z. Myers has this excellent post explaining why likening various biochemical systems to machines can be a terribly misleading analgy:
Individual proteins do link up to form more elaborate complexes, but still…it's all a function of concentration and reaction rates and binding energies. It's chemistry. It's driven by thermodynamics and equilibria, not guided engineering.
Hmmm. Behe's metaphor isn't a very good one. He wants to pretend something is a “truck”, but when we actually look closely at it, it's a knotty string, a tangle of chemicals. And it isn't driving purposefully around the cell, it's bumping around haphazardly, interacting with other components of the cell chemically. It's also nowhere near as complex as a truck, since the instructions for building one can be reduced to the order you string together a set of pop beads. Using a metaphor can be a useful strategy for getting a point across, but when the metaphor is used to carry a false message, such as the presence of purpose and detailed complexity that is not present, it is actually misleading. When you get right down to it, what's going on inside a cell is about as mindless as soup. (Emphasis in original).
Meanwhile, at the Panda's Thumb Andrea Bottaro reports on yet another nail in the coffin for the argument that complex systems can't evolve.
The topic where the idea of unevolvability of IC systems has probably taken the most beating is the vertebrate adaptive immune system, where not only evidence for evolution has accumulated at a steady pace, but even more embarrassingly for Behe, it has developed exactly along the lines predicted by those “Calvin and Hobbes jumps” he originally dismissed. A recent paper in the journal PLoS Biology  is the latest turn in the death spiral of irreducible complexity of the immune system, and I think provides a good opportunity to take a look at how science works, as opposed to ID navel-gazing.
Meanwhile, the Boston Globe weighs in with this strong editorial against ID:
A SELF-INTERESTED New Englander might hope that the Kansas Board of Education comes out decisively against teaching evolution. That would put at least one state at a disadvantage as it competes for biotech business. But the anti-evolution movement, advocating the pseudo-scientific notion called “intelligent design,” is making inroads as far east as Pennsylvania. Only if the concept is rejected will Americans show they are committed to the growth of scientific knowledge
Well said. Sadly, I'm not convinced that Americans are committed to the growth of scientific knowledge.