Friday, November 16, 2007

Mr. Owl, how many days does it take to get a Creationist to admit he made a mistake?

103, 104, 105... **CRUNCH!** 105.

105 days after I wrote my essay on Vpu, Behe finally admitted I was right:

Yes, I’m perfectly willing to concede that this does appear to be the development of a new viral protein-viral protein binding site, one which I overlooked when writing about HIV.
Well aint that super. But heres the deal. What would have happened if he had said this, and only this, on say, Day 5? We would have laughed "Silly lazy Creationist!" made comments about "What other mistakes did Behe make in 'Edge'?" and probably gone about our business.

But thats not what happened.

First, Behe dispatched the Discovery Institutes PR attack dog, in hopes that would silence DIs followers.

Then, William Dembskis hired anonymous goons were sent to intimidate me.

Then, William Dembski tried to take a dump in my back yard.

Then, Lilo himself let loose not one, but two sexist cry-baby rants against me.

THEN Behe admitted he screwed up.

But please note, Behe is not admitting that he screwed up to *me*. Behe is admitting he screwed up to *Ian*:
And now let’s talk about Dr. Musgrave’s “core argument,” that subsequent to the virus leaping to humans from chimps Vpu developed the ability to act as a viroporin, allowing the leakage of cations which helps release the virus from the cell membrane.
Um, excuse me, that is *my* core argument. While Behe will lower himself to responding to a worthless foot-soldier scientist like Ian... at least Ian already has his PhD and is a man. Admitting a female who wasnt even a graduate student at the time of the essay, bested him, well, thats obviously another reality Behe is unwilling to accept.

Behe is also unwilling to admit that maybe, just *maybe*, he doesnt know jack shit about HIV-1 and how it evolves in patients and populations. Oh he might have 'overlooked' something (implying he 'looked' in the first place, ROFL!), but really, that evolution is just 'pathetic'.

Pathetic pathetic pathetic pathetic pathetic...

There is certainly something 'pathetic' in this exchange, Behe, but it aint HIV.


The Factician said...

Wow, so now he's saying that Vpu can evolve new functions, but it still looks like the original Vpu?

Ummm... isn't this the molecular version of "But how come I've never seen HIV evolve into a water buffalo?"


Blake Stacey said...

Picking nits:

"First, Behe dispatched the Discovery Institutes PR attack dog, in hopes that would silence DIs followers."

Is "followers" really the word meant here?

Blake Stacey said...

In other news, man, a reference to those Tootsie Pop commercials really takes me back. I think they came on the air during Dangermouse episodes. . . or was it during Mr. Wizard's World?

Annyday said...

Nono, this is the molecular version of "tentacles can grip too, therefore hands are not new."

Tyler DiPietro said...

Apparently Behe's standard for "pathetic" evolution grows without limit as he is further demonstrated to be wrong. By now it's obvious to any disinterested observer that he's just moving goalposts.

firemancarl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
firemancarl said...

After reading your blog I have a few comments.

#1 You continually wipe the floor with Behe and his ilk.

#2 The YEC/ID camp think they can intimidate you because you're a woman.

#3 You're MY hero.

Keep up the good fight. ( Jebus that was schmaltzy!)

firemancarl said...

Blake, I dunno, maybe DM. But the ID folk sure act a lot like Mr. Greenabck eh?

John Pieret said...

I hope this view of Behe might might amuse you.

Jorgon Gorgon said...

Yay! Verily, you are awesome! ;)

I just forced myself to finish The Edge of Evolution, and...I sort of knew what to expect, but it didn't prevent me from cringiggling (a new word???). Anyway, that's several hours I shall never see again...

windy said...

Vpu is a Wiccan conspiracy to attack innocent biochemist man Behe!

James F. McGrath said...

Thanks for the comment on my blog. Yes, I did get invited over to After The Bar Closes. I'm humbled that the person who bested Behe would even know my little blog exists! :)

I was really impressed that my students picked up on the point you made right away when they read the Wedge document. Science is about discovery, it always has the possibility that research will disprove rather than prove your hypothesis. When they saw that the ID supporters had a 20-year plan for their view becoming dominant, it was obvious: this isn't a research proposal, it is a marketing strategy!

I hope you didn't miss my complementary reference to you in one of my blog posts reflecting on Judgment Day. Here's the relevant paragraph:

"Meanwhile ERV will presumably continue to deliver scientific punches at Behe. Hopefully before it gets any more painful, Behe will cry 'uncle' and tell her to pick on someone her own size (intellectually, that is). He should have checked his star chart before he pursued this course of action."

You didn't disappoint my expectations - indeed, you exceeded them. Keep up the good work! :)

Art said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Art said...

Woo-hoo! Congratulations, Abbie! You're my hero, too.

-- HalfMooner

alloy said...

Congratulations Abby.

Typically he feels he can't ignore Dr. Musgrave, but he can ignore a mere girl type student. (no offense)

I wonder why Mr Behe's amazon blog has his comments disabled?

To many students with too much hard science must be embarressing for him.

Dude said...

Well done Abbie.

I've been following this little brawl since it was first mentioned on PT. It was clear from the outset that Behe was far outclassed!

This kind of thing is deeply interesting to me from the science perspective as well as a communications one. Creationists have, for all intents, already won the communications battle. They are well funded and found a fertile audience in the "fund"amentalist religious revival here in the US.

I'm glad to see more people, especially more science literate people, joining in the fight to restore the public debate on science topics back to something based in evidence.

So please, keep on blogging!

Steven said...

You can to some extent understand Behe's attitude. It can't be easy having your ass handed to you, week in week out.

llane1 said...

Why Behe avoids peer review is obvious to scientists. This should make it a little more obvious to nonscientists.

Nonscientist should be warned that this is only the tip of the iceberg of Behe's misunderstanding.

PsychoAtheist said...

Kudos Abbie, remind me never to upset you!

Seriously, very well done (for a woman!):))

Oh, and Tagged

Doppelganger said...

Of course, these folks, despite their whining about when they declare it is done to them, are MAJOR credentialists.

How dare Richard Wein criticize Dembski - he has but a bachelor's degree (That's it.). How dare Alvalos criticize anything uttered by a scientist - he is a religious studies professor... How dare ERV criticize Mikey Behe - she doesn't even have a graduate degree! AND she is a she!

By the way - nothing from Ewert yet. I thjink I will send it again an this time CC the bioinformatics staff at Wistar...

S_A_Wells said...

Clearly, Hell hath no fury like ERV scorned. Behe had no clue what he was letting himself in for when he mocked you.

He'll never admit that you won. But he knows. He's known all along, and it will haunt him to his grave.

Good work.

Aris said...

He doesn't know jack shit about anything.

Scottus said...

Behe continues:

"One should, however, also make some distinctions with this example. First, although there apparently are five or so copies of Vpu in the viroporin complex, that does not mean that five binding sites developed. Only one new binding site need develop for one area of a protein which binds to a different area of the same protein, to form a homogeneous complex with, say, C5 symmetry. That is all that is required for a circularly symmetric structure to form. Second, the viroporin is not some new molecular machine. There is no evidence that it exerts its effect in, say, an ATP- or energy-dependent manner. Rather, similar to other viroporins, the protein simply forms a passive leaky pore or weak channel. (4,5) This situation is probably best viewed as a foreign protein degrading the integrity of a membrane, rather than performing some positive function.

And third, I explicitly pointed out in Chapter 8 of The Edge of Evolution that HIV had undergone enough mutating in past decades to form all possible viral-viral binding sites, but commented that apparently none of them had been helpful (now I know that one of them helped). This I discussed as the “principle of restricted choice”:

A third reason for doubt is the overlooked problem of restricted choice. That is, not only do new protein interactions have to develop, there has to be some protein available that would actually do some good. Malaria makes about 5,300 kinds of proteins. Of those only a very few help in its fight against antibiotics, and just two are effective against chloroquine. If those two proteins weren’t available or weren’t helpful, then, much to the joy of humanity, the malarial parasite might have no effective evolutionary response to chloroquine. Similarly, in its frantic mutating, HIV has almost certainly altered its proteins at one point or another in the past few decades enough to cover all of shape space. So new surfaces on HIV proteins would have been made that could bind to any other viral protein in every orientation. [Emphasis added here.] Yet of all the many molecules its mutated proteins must have bound, none seem to have helped it; no new protein-protein interactions have been reported. Apparently the choice of proteins to bind is restricted only to unhelpful ones. (pp. 157-158)

So Dr. Musgrave’s “core argument” turns out to be a decidedly double-edged sword. Yes, one overlooked protein-protein interaction developed, leading to a leaky cell membrane. However, in the past fifty years many, many more potential viral protein-viral protein interactions must have also developed but not been selected because they did the virus little good. That, dear readers, is “restricted choice,” a very large contributor to the edge of evolution."

My, how you chance-worshippers miss the point. Though it is kinda endearing how you believe that blind, comatose, non cognizant, non telic, mechanisms can produce insanely complex, purposive machinery and dizzyingly intricate software programs...

...endearing in a steamboat era, 19th century kinda way.

James F. McGrath said...

When you're done wiping the floor with the last commenter, do pay a return visit to my blog and feel free to do the same with commenters there! :)

The Inoculated Mind said...

Yes, one overlooked protein-protein interaction developed

Yes, Behe was wrong, and neither he nor you can seem to admit it to Abbie Smith.

Torbjörn Larsson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Torbjörn Larsson said...

Not only did Behe had to admit that the 'irreducible complex' and 'improbable complex' viroporin existed, he accepted to (erroneously) use evolutionary arguments to defend himself! Only one new binding site need develop for one area of a protein [thanks Scottus, now I didn't have to hunt for Behe's admission].

You viropored him a few new ones!

I wanted to be... a creationist!

Leaping from text to text, as they spew from the mighty presses of Northern America.
The USA Today. The Post. The Globe! The Wall Street Journal!
The lofty Houston Chronicle! The plucky little Tribune! The limping St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The towering Washington Post! The Atlanta Journal-Constitution!
The naughty Long Island Newsday! The flatulent Arizona Republic!
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer! The Star-Ledger! The Plain Dealer!

With my best buddy by my side, we'd sing! Sing! Sing!

I'm a creationist, and I'm okay.
I lie all night and I lie all day.

He's a creationist, and he's okay.
He lies all night and he lies all day.

I cut down facts. I fudge my hunch.
I create my evo strawman.
On Sundays I go preachin'
And serve false choices for creos.

He cuts down facts. He fudges his hunch.
He creates his evo strawman.
On Sundays he go preachin'
And serves false choices for creos.

He's a creationist, and he's okay.
He lies all night and he lies all day.

I cut down facts. I Gish and gallop.
I like to press wild fallacies.
I put on scientist's clothing
And hang around in labs.

He cuts down facts. He Gish and gallop.
He likes to press wild fallacies.
He puts on scientist's clothing
And hangs around in labs?!

He's a creationist, and he's okay.
He lies all night and he lies all day.

I find out facts. I have high hopes,
proposals, and a grant.
I wish I'd been an academic,
Just like my dear Professor.

He finds down facts. He has high hopes,
proposals, and a grant?!

What's this? Wants to be an academic?! Oh, My!
And I thought you were so gullible! Non-poofer!...

He's a creationist, and he's okay.
He lies all night and he lies all day.

He's a creationist, and he's okaaaaay.
He lies all night and he lies all day.

[Creo choir starts hurling worthless copies of Edge of Evolution on a defenseless Behe.]

Tyler DiPietro said...

Torbjorn, did you seriously fucking write that whole thing?

386sx said...

Kudos to Mr. Larsson. And to Ms. Smith of course.

S_A_Wells said...

So, is Behe's claim now that, when he said "HIV hasn't evolved any new molecular machinery", he actually meant "HIV easily evolved some new molecular machinery"?

Torbjörn Larsson said...

did you seriously fucking write that whole thing

Tyler, I cribbed it from a Monthy Python text of course (and it's mostly cut-and-replace, as I'm sure you notice). I had to wait/procrastinate from more serious work while trying to make a late fix of a slooow sequencer for my bed room lightning.

And by sheer dumb luck, the subjects matched somewhat. So maybe I will try again when I need to do some serious procrastination.

Kristjan Wager said...

Torbjorn, that's fantastic - if Abbie won't promote that comment to the front page, I'll steal it for my blog....

Torbjörn Larsson said...

Thanks Kristjan, feel free to steal away!