Wednesday, February 13, 2008

EPIC WINS! Epic crash :P

Whos bright idea was it to make mid-terms the same week as Darwin Day???

*fumes*

hehehe Bleh oh well-- Im running on empty right now, but Ive got lots of fun updates:
1-- Reggie put my interview up (for freeeee!!) I dont think I came off as too tardish, and we had a lot of fun! The only embarrassing moment was when Arnie started choking on a rawhide he was NOMNOMNOMing, and all you hear on the recording is a long strange silence :P Otherwise, we chatted about Luskin, Behe, and there is even a surprise guest appearance by none other than RBH!!

LINKY!!


2-- Darwin Day!
OUs new Center for Inquiry set up a panel discussion on evolution for Darwin Day, and it was great! Ian already summed it up-- Im really disappointed that the Creationist Kids in the audience didnt ask any questions. Let me be perfectly clear on this-- What I (we?) do with Dembski/Behe/Luskin/Hovind/whatever is not how I would react to students.

Ever.

These kids are the product of their environment. They needed to ask their Creationist questions! *sigh* Maybe they were too scared, as questioning things is frowned upon in their world...

Oh, and we decided we needed to figure out how to put 'obligate siblicide' on a bumper sticker. hehehe!

If youre in Oklahoma but missed this talk, Im going to be presenting at the Oklahoma Americans United conference the end of March. Ill have more details on that later!

3-- Student BLAG!!! Some of you might have been hearing rumors of a new ERV blag. Well, ERV is staying the same, but Im partnering with Sigma Xi to open a new blog, with a new purpose: Students dealing with pseudoscience. Of course I will write about other sciency-studenty things, but one topic I want to emphasize is encouraging kids to use their knowledge to deal with pseudoscientists. Creationists, Astrologers, Homeopaths, all of em. I want 'sciency' kids in Oklahoma surrounded by Creationism to know they are not alone, and that somewhere on this planet, their critical thinking skills are appreciated. I want B-average students to get into the action-- thats one thing I brought up last night. When I was younger, science was *only* for the 'smart' kids. The nerdy kids. I got shipped off to nerd camp for a month every summer. But science is for everybody. I want Art History students to get into the action!! Hard to put into words now (Im also getting sick-- Yay NyQuil!) but lets see where we can take this new blag :) Its a done deal now, but it will be another few weeks before we are up and running. Ill keep you all updated!

So some great wins this past week, but Im going to sleep.

Its 8.15 pm, and Im going to sleep.

NIGHT!!

69 comments:

Corey Smith said...

I agree. Darwin Day went very undercelebrated in my house because of school issues. Maybe I'll celebrate it belatedly this weekend?

John C. Welch said...

Downloading the mp3 now.

If you're ever in KC, email me, I'll pay you back that beer and elbow chocolates I owe you for the smackdowns you deliver.

Ragoth said...

I'm very excited to hear about the student blag! I'm trying to do a bit of the same with my own, but haven't had a huge amount of time to dwell specifically on that topic.

Science blags!

neil h said...

A belated happy Darwin Day to you!

Jamie Prentice said...
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October Mermaid said...

That student blog sounds interesting, but I regretfully fall under the "non-science-y" banner.

I enjoy science, but public education in Texas has done little to prepare me for it. Instead of learning about things like evolution, we spent time, uh, coloring pictures. In high school. Yeah.

spaceLem said...

So who is RBH? He seemed pretty sound when he called.

And well done for the rest of the show: it's not easy to talk for nearly an hour on a subject, and I learnt some new interesting things.

Paul Phoenix said...

Interesting show. Thanks. I agree totally about students debating cretinists [sic]. I'm studying natural sciences at the moment and am easily able to knock down most of these so called 'arguments'. I'm also from a Baptist background so they can't go all 'bible quoting' on me!

Keep up the good work. PS. you don't look 'jut jawed' to me!! Has Behe looked in a mirror lately? :-)

William Wallace said...

"What I (we?) do with Dembski/Behe/Luskin/Hovind/whatever is not how I would react to students."

The "I" might be accurate, but the "we" is overly optimistic.

Evolutionists are always willing to debate and engage intellectual lightweights.

E.g., for a long time the evolutionist line has been to not debate creationist or intelligent design proponents, especially on the question of whether or not Darwinism is essentially a religion.

But, my observation is that if a bright young student starts asking tough questions, it does't take long before most evolutionists resort to ad hominems, quote mining allegations, attacks on religion, etc.—in accordance with NCSE/PandasThumb/TalkOrigins talking points.

Anonymous said...

William Wallace: Yeah! Scientists should be debating whether or not evolutionary biology (not darwinism - things have moved on since him!) is a religion! It's certainly not a very good religion because it doesn't require much faith. You *are* kidding right? Coz just for a couple of seconds I thought you were being serious!

Mister DNA said...

Well, ERV is staying the same, but Im partnering with Sigma Xi to open a new blog, with a new purpose: Students dealing with pseudoscience.

I hope we'll be seeing a certain graphic on some of those posts, Abbie.

Good work.

Shawn Wilkinson said...

I think you should give a VD for VD. i mean...they look so cute, don't you think?

*goes back to lurking*

Torbjörn Larsson said...

Evolutionists are always willing to debate and engage intellectual lightweights.

The trouble with your claim is of course that IDC is intellectual lightweight, as it is a pseudoscience scam that is scientifically dead since birth. The only question needing answer is where is the predictive theory and its positive evidence, and the mean time before creationists starts ducking that line of questioning is about 10 s.

In your case it took 20 s ("Darwinism" instead of discussing IDC), but only because you made some idiotic remarks on the debate, a remark you didn't support.

Supposedly there are some more intelligent creationists somewhere, as the ID scam and its historical phases have its "designers". But I doubt "intellectual", as most or all creationists are happily quote mining.

Btw, on quote mining, what is "quote mining allegations"? And why would that be serious compared to IDCers constantly quote mining scientific sources? Examples, please!

michael said...

William Wallace's comments on his blog about Darwin Day remind me of an Acts & Facts article by John Morris of the Institute of Creation Research (vol 18 no 2 Feb 1989) where Morris claims no racism existed before Darwin. Since the trafficking of Africans to the Americas began over 200 years before 1859 and slavery was abolished in 1865, this is nonsense at best. The idea that Hitler needed evolution to justify his actions is just as silly. Europeans were killing Jews long before Darwin and Hitler.

Tyler DiPietro said...

"E.g., for a long time the evolutionist line has been to not debate creationist or intelligent design proponents, especially on the question of whether or not Darwinism is essentially a religion."

"Evolutionists" have been dismantling IDC in written form since it's inception. Why don't you inquire into why Billy Dembski has made no attempt to respond to Elsberry and Shallit's demolition of "No Free Lunch"?

What they generally don't agree to is oral debates, and there is a reason for that: oral debates are terrible format for scientific disputes. They favor those who have the best rhetoric and the cutest sounding one-liners, not who has the best evidence. That's generally why creobots prefer them.

V. H. said...

As usual, W.W.ignores the obvious and presents false accusations. His statement that those who accept evolutionary biology are "always willing to debate and engage intellectual light weights" is laughable. I remind him that ERV, a 'mere' graduate student, has taken on and bested both Behe and Dembski in several blog 'debates.' I agree that Dembski et al are truly intellectual lightweights, despite their self-agrandizing to the contrary. Thus, W.W. speaks some truth - a rare instance!

In many years of teaching and giving and hearing talks, it is my experience that most evolutionary biologists are quite respectful of students' questions and really attempt to answer them properly.

William Wallace said...

Instead of calling it Students dealing with pseudoscience why not call it youth sent to clear minefields because I have too much to loose now that I have a Ph.D.?

Take a listen to "the infidel guy" audio linked above, go to about 42:30 or so. It is reminiscent of the use of children in the Iraq/Iran war to clear minefields.

It also confirms what I wrote above about evolutionists being afraid to debate creationist or intelligent design proponents.

Tyler DiPietro said...

William Wallace has shown himself to be a good ID flak. Make a series of dubious claims. Then, when called on them, spew a whole bunch of new ones without even acknowledging that counterarguments have been presented.

"Take a listen to "the infidel guy" audio linked above, go to about 42:30 or so. It is reminiscent of the use of children in the Iraq/Iran war to clear minefields."

Yep, because giving students the opportunity to cut their teeth on small fish is exactly like throwing children into minefields. Could you people get any more ridiculous?

Anyway, it's quite an ironic claim, given that the centerpiece of the ID agenda is to insert it into science classes at the high school level. If anyone has the claim to manipulating children and young minds, it's them.

William Wallace said...

"William Wallace's comments on his blog about Darwin Day remind me of an Acts & Facts article by John Morris of the Institute of Creation Research (vol 18 no 2 Feb 1989) where Morris claims no racism existed before Darwin. Since the trafficking of Africans to the Americas began over 200 years before 1859 and slavery was abolished in 1865, this is nonsense at best. The idea that Hitler needed evolution to justify his actions is just as silly. Europeans were killing Jews long before Darwin and Hitler."

Nice strawman. You slew it well. If you had warned me in advance, I would have helped you. Next time, try to address what I write, and, you might try doing this where I write it.

Chris Noble said...

Hi Abby,
I listened to your interview on the Infidel Guy.

You came over tard-free.

I thought you missed out on some obvious points.

One reason that fundamental christians aren't doing HIV research is that a large percentage of them think that HIV is doing God's work.

Was it Behe or Dembski that came back with the "You'll have a job for a long time" line after you mentioned that you were doing HIV research? What do you think he meant by that?

You forgot to contrast DaveScot's crap about ERVs being the hand of God to contrats with the other nutters who say that ERVs don't exist.

Albatrossity said...

William Wallace wrote: But, my observation is that if a bright young student starts asking tough questions, it does't take long before most evolutionists resort to ad hominems, quote mining allegations, attacks on religion, etc.—in accordance with NCSE/PandasThumb/TalkOrigins talking points.

Back it up with some facts, please. I am a professor at a moderate-sized state university, and have been at this job for over a quarter of a century. I have NEVER witnessed any such behavior on this campus, nor in my undergraduate or graduate periods. On the contrary, when a "bright young student" has questions, I try to answer them. And that is what all of my colleagues try to do as well.

In addition, you can find others at other universities (including Allen McNeill at Cornell), who engage these "bright young students" quite well, and nobody involved with the course accused him of ad hominem tactics, etc. Science is about answering questions, and you'd be hard put to find a scientist who doesn't like to do that, particularly if the conversation is with a "bright young student".

So if your "observation" can be supported, I'd like to hear about it. Otherwise, I'll just assume that it is another instance of creationist opinion masquerading as fact.

William Wallace said...
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William Wallace said...
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William Wallace said...

Albatrossity, I think you've confused evolutionist with professor, probably professor of biology.

While most professors of biology behave well, some don't (one example that pops to mind is Dr. Michael Dini at Texas Tech University.)

Biologists probably follow the following professional ethics:
1. to seek, accept, and offer honest criticism of technical work, to acknowledge and correct errors, and to credit properly the contributions of others;
2. to treat fairly all persons regardless of such factors as race, religion, gender, disability, age, or national origin;
3. to avoid injuring others, their property, reputation, or employment by false or malicious action.
Evolutionists, such as those who so maliciously attacked Sternberg, clearly do not think much of the above ethics.

Torbjörn Larsson said...

@ WW:

"why not call it youth sent to clear minefields because I have too much to loose now that I have a Ph.D.?"

Are you deliberately making a joke out of your argument? I mean, seeing that ERV is a graduate student.

"" ... The idea that Hitler needed evolution to justify his actions is just as silly. Europeans were killing Jews long before Darwin and Hitler."

Nice strawman."

Um, actually no. michael gives an example of racism existing long before your claim that one should "connect Darwinian evolution with racism". There is more historical support for Luther's protestant reformation shoring up nazism than a non-verified social theory borrowing biological concepts.

Evolutionists, such as those who so maliciously attacked Sternberg

Oh, you mean the scientists that opposed his obfuscation of peer review and its implementation at the journal Sternberg edited. True, other scientists support biologists.

But you are Gish galloping. We are discussing how science and scientists behave, not a few cases of creationists such as Sternberg that circumvent due process and the profession's reaction to that. But your argument is contraproductive for your scam, so by all means...

William Wallace said...

"Are you deliberately making a joke out of your argument? I mean, seeing that ERV is a graduate student."

Please bother to listen to the audio before sticking your foot in your mouth.

Bobblehead (aka "Infidel guy")@43:54: "So, are you saying that you're going to stop debating after you get your Ph.D.?"

Abbey Smith @44:00: "You know what? I will absolutely do that, and start mentoring students because I believe that I have learned my material with HIV with evolution by going through these things. I think it is a great exercise for students."

Lledowyn said...
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Lledowyn said...

Hi William,

First of all, Abbie is advocating getting students to cut their teeth debating creationists as a way of learning their material. What better way to both learn as well as verify that you understand the material than by debating against someone who is trying to refute all of it.

Second, these are not "youth." Last time I checked, most of the people in college are 18 years old or older, and that qualifies as an adult. What they choose to do with their time is their business, and it's a little disingenuous to be calling them children.

Lastly, explain how calling the Infidel Guy a "Bobblehead" is different than the typical "evolutionist" tactic of using ad hominems. Calling him a "Bobblehead" is insulting, and adds nothing to the discussion, nor does it help your arguments.

Torbjörn Larsson said...

Please bother to listen to the audio

Ask yourself, how is that relevant to the fact that not all of the attending scientists had PhD's? Nor scientists in general. Then maybe you will realize that you are unable to make cogent arguments.

And no, nowhere in your quote is there any support for your claim, which can be noted is on a single and particular person. On the contrary, it argues against it ("exercise").

And what Lledowyn said.

Albatrossity said...

WW wrote: Albatrossity, I think you've confused evolutionist with professor, probably professor of biology.

While most professors of biology behave well, some don't (one example that pops to mind is Dr. Michael Dini at Texas Tech University.)

Biologists probably follow the following professional ethics:
1. to seek, accept, and offer honest criticism of technical work, to acknowledge and correct errors, and to credit properly the contributions of others;
2. to treat fairly all persons regardless of such factors as race, religion, gender, disability, age, or national origin;
3. to avoid injuring others, their property, reputation, or employment by false or malicious action.
Evolutionists, such as those who so maliciously attacked Sternberg, clearly do not think much of the above ethics.


Nice goal post switch. In the first comment it was "bright young students" who were being abused. In the second instance above, it was Sternberg, who in not bright, nor is he young, nor is he a student. He's a adult, who abused his position as a journal editor, and deserved to be called to account for it. That's not "malicious"; that's how the real world works.

I'll move the goalpost back. Give me some evidence for your original assertion if a bright young student starts asking tough questions, it does't take long before most evolutionists resort to ad hominems, quote mining allegations, attacks on religion, etc.—in accordance with NCSE/PandasThumb/TalkOrigins talking points. Since this specifically says "student", I have to presume that the other half of this abuse equation is a teacher. Prove it. Or retract it.

Thanks

William Wallace said...

"Nice goal post switch."

Speaking of moving goal posts, the word reminiscent does not mean "exactly like".

Second, it's not like students' curiosity being mocked and marginalized via logical fallacies is newsworthy and therefore citable.

Even so, I did provide the example of Michael Dini's assault on religious beliefs, which did make national news.

Furthermore, the way the creationist viewpoints are dismissed in the interview is not based on reason, but most often on fallacious name calling.

"Lastly, explain how calling the Infidel Guy a "Bobblehead" is different than the typical "evolutionist" tactic of using ad hominems. Calling him a "Bobblehead" is insulting, and adds nothing to the discussion, nor does it help your arguments."

Bobblehead was a very concise and accurate description of Infidel guy's behavior as an interviewer.

There wasn't even a pretense of objectivity, and agreement most often came way too quickly, without time to assimilate the information provided by SA Smith. Likewise, any "creationist" argument was rejected forthwith. (E.g., at 10:44, Bobblehead: [mocking laughter] "that doesn't make sense.")

And for man who takes UFO abductions seriously, the skeptical point of view he presents in the above interview might have more to do with personable (look it up) attributes of SA Smith than a real skepticism.

My view. Infidelguy behaved like Bobbleheadguy, at least for this interview. If you know him, my apologies. His lack of objectivity during this interview does not diminish his worth as a human being.

Shirakawasuna said...

W.W.: give *any* evidence for your position, including personal experience examples. I do not see, in academia or other places where there are students, where the things you mentioned occur even occasionally (I refer specifically to how 'evolutionists' react).

In fact, give evidence for any of your positions... Support comparing preferring undergrads/grad students to call out those who are obviously wrong to sending 'children' (18-26 year olds are children?) to a minefield. Support your statement directly afterwards, where you claim such an idea supports your point about 'evolutionists', where it nows appears the word *is* interchangeable with professor/scientist, and makes little sense otherwise. Support treating Sternberg as a victim, someone who not only abused his position but acted in a wholly academically dishonest fashion. Support your only citation, which is Dr. Dini, which seems to have nothing to do with "ad hominems, quote mining allegations, attacks on religion, etc", and even if we accept it as a counter to albatrossity's point about professors, how would Dini even have been acting wrong? Why is requiring a *scientific* answer to a topic covered by science something a *biology* teacher should be criticized for? Showing aptitude in science and information-gathering should be considered a basic requirement for someone seeking a recommendation from a science professor.

Lledowyn said...

Hi William,

I listened to the exchange between Abbie and the Infidel guy around 10:44, where he was lauging and saying "That doesn't make sense." At that point he was refering to two "creationist" arguments as related by Abbie:
1) The fact that we have similar genomes with the same ERVs in the same places with chimpanzees implies a common designer.
2) That ERVs must have infected the two species at the same time and that's why we both have them in the same locations.

Do you feel those arguments make sense? If so, could you explain how those arguments are possible, as well as who the designer is, and how did he do it? You see that's a main issue with this whole concept of "Intelligent Design." The biggest question of such a hypothesis is that you ultimately have to both identify this designer, and you would have to interview him/her about how he/she did it in order to understand what happened. Is it your contention that this is not a supernatural explanation of evolution, and thus it makes sense?

Personally, I think a simpler solution is that there is common descent and that when the Chimpanzees and Humans species split, we both took our common ERVs with us, and that's why we both have similar genomes, with the feature that we share several ERVs. Note that this is a completely natural explanation that is backed by evidence. There is no need for a designer, and thus you don't need to find the designer, nor do you need to interview him/her. (I'm sure this could be explained better. Maybe Abbie or someone with more knowledge than me will be willing to explain this a little better? :))

As far as your assertion that he didn’t show any objectivity, could you show any other instances of this? Frankly, I agree with him that the above two “creationist” arguments indeed do not make sense, so I don’t see how that is “bobblehead” behavior. And still, there is no excuse to call someone a name like that. You can call him biased if you wish (although I would like to see evidence of that in that interview), or you can claim that he was simply agreeing to anything Abbie said because she was personable, but to call him a Bobblehead is still an insult, regardless of whether you feel it is appropriate. It is akin to calling someone an ass, even if it applies, which does not help your argument, and is no different than calling someone a name in a playground.

Also, I'm not sure on what you're basing your assertion that Reggie believes in alien abduction. I know he recently had a guest that took abductions at face value but Reggie definitely wasn't buying it. In fact in his forum (here) there was a poster that thought that he might have been too hard on that guy. Could you please post the link to something he has said or written that you're basing this on?

Albatrossity said...

WW wrote: Second, it's not like students' curiosity being mocked and marginalized via logical fallacies is newsworthy and therefore citable.

Even so, I did provide the example of Michael Dini's assault on religious beliefs, which did make national news.


In other words, your original statement - my observation is that if a bright young student starts asking tough questions, it does't take long before most evolutionists resort to ad hominems, quote mining allegations, attacks on religion, etc.—in accordance with NCSE/PandasThumb/TalkOrigins talking points.

is supported by a) nothing citable, or b) one example. The basis for your "observation" is thus revealed to be anecdotal at best (anecdotes are NOT data), and nonexistent at worst.

Perhaps you should examine a few of your other long-held and cherished beliefs to see if they might also be unsupported by evidence.

Tyler DiPietro said...

William is rapidly becoming my favorite ID wingnut.

"There wasn't even a pretense of objectivity, and agreement most often came way too quickly, without time to assimilate the information provided by SA Smith."

Given your pedantry regarding diction earlier in this post, you might want to look up the difference between "objectivity" and "neutrality". Reality is biased.

"And for man who takes UFO abductions seriously..."

He doesn't. If this is indicative of your approach to the facts, it's no wonder you're so drawn to ID.

William Wallace said...
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William Wallace said...

Okay, he wasn't a total bobblehead. At about 57:03, he does go through the motions of expressing some skepticism.

"Now to be fair, Abbey, this reaction by Behe, it's really making me wonder here though. What did you say about this guy?..."

I assume you're telling the truth that Infidel guy was skeptical of alien abduction stories, and I apologize to Infidel guy for misunderstanding the part of a program I heard in which he appeared to me to be much more credulous.

William Wallace said...

SA Smith,

In a very strange coincidence, I re-listened to an old podcast interview with Michael Behe on my MP3 player today, and some comments made by SA Smith were mentioned by the interviewers. (Note: These interviewers did not behave like bobbleheads, and indeed confronted and challenged Behe more quickly.)

Anyway, based on a google search, I can see the hosts were quoting words you or an impersonator wrote here:

"Hey, Jeff-- I got Behe to admit the whole premise of his new book 'Edge of Evolution' was wrong (he stated over and over and OVER that no new protein-protein interactions have evolved, EVER, and I showed him one that evolved in HIV within the past few decades). In his case, he is most certainly not ignorant, as he admitted defeat. The only logical explanation for why he is continuing along his current path is that he is a liar."

First, to the claim that you got Behe to admit the whole premise to Behe's book was wrong, I say: "citation please".

It is remarkable that an undergraduate or recent graduate was able to get Behe to disavow his on book.

Next, here are some excerpts from Behe's response to Jeff:

Behe: "...And I said such things could happen[useful defects such as sickle cell binding sites], and I said the limit for Darwinian evolution was two connected protein-protein binding sites. That is, if you need three proteins to do something, and each pair of proteins has to be connected by a site; you need two protein binding sites—I said that would be, based on the data that I talk about in the book _The Edge of Evolution_ that's the most you could expect out of Darwinian processes.

Now this lady—this graduate student, said well, hey, look, there's been a new binding site which has occurred in one protein in HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. And she was right, and I had not seen that. So I said, okay, well, there's another single binding site that has come about.

But again, you would expect that to happen because the odds against a single binding site popping up are not that prohibitive. But if you need two binding sites together to do something than that's what I said in my book was prohibitive. Since most molecular machines in the cell consist of aggregates of a dozen proteins or so, each of which have to bind very specifically to each other, that means that most of the protein machinery in the cell is well beyond Darwinian evolution.

Well, she mis-read the book.
"

Were you aware of Behe's response above? I guess not since you did not mention it in the Infidel guy interview.

And what do you have to say about it now that I bring it to your attention?

Thanks,

William Wallace

Tyler DiPietro said...

"In a very strange coincidence, I re-listened to an old podcast interview with Michael Behe..."

We're way ahead of you.

William Wallace said...

Lledowyn,

At the risk of having my 3:33 p.m. post ignored by SA Smith, I want to respond to you too.

I am just now studying this stuff, but in general, coincident location is evidence of common descent, but it is also evidence of coincidence, common design, latent function, cut-and-paste/reuse cruft (something you've probably encountered), only benign location, and other possibilities.

So, upon hearing other plausible explanations, no, I am not an NCSE Pavlovian bobblehead® who automatically spews "nonesense" just because I heard somebody use the "creationist" label.

Out of the mainstream explanations are not patent nonsense in the absence of other information.

Indeed, without knowing details, an assertion of common descent based only on on coincident and apparently non-functioning sequences in DNA seems odd (even if those sequences have a purpose in a different organism's DNA), and very much akin to the specious assertion that this program (wave.c) and this program (bubble sort.c) are obviously descendants of this program (hello world.c) simply because they all contain the same "extra operator error" in the sequences '/*' and '*/' instead of just a '/' or a '*'.

Note, the mis-identification of the delimiters "/*" and "*/" as extra operator errors is intentional.

In the case of the ERVs being detected in the human genome, consider other possibilities:
o /* designed by ASDF */ comment
o /* s+=*ptr2++ * *ptr1++;*/.reuse with minimal cleanup

Now, these other possibilities may be wrong, especially if you have more information than I have, but I think you have to admit that they are not patent nonsense.

Tyler DiPietro said...

"...but it is also evidence of coincidence, common design, latent function, cut-and-paste/reuse cruft (something you've probably encountered), only benign location, and other possibilities."

No, it isn't evidence for any of those things.

Coincidence: The probability of sequence homology in transposable elements, like ERV's, being due to random, independent insertions in independent lineages in stupifyingly low.

Common design: A mechanismless handwave. You might as well say "it can be evidence for magic."

Latent function: If you have no evidence for such, it's a moot point to assert that it "could be there". There could be an invisible teapot orbiting mars. Occam's Razor dictates that we do not invoke unnecessary entities to explain phenomena.

Cut-n-paste/reuse cruft: No substantially different from "common design". Unless it's reducible to a predictable mechanism, it's once again a moot point.

I'm not clear on what you mean by "only benign location".

"Indeed, without knowing details, an assertion of common descent based only on on coincident and apparently non-functioning sequences in DNA seems odd..."

Yes, without knowing the details, you would come to that conclusion. This was already explained to you on Panda's Thumb, why you're simply regurgitating it as though it hasn't been answered is beyond.

(No, actually, it isn't. Like most IDC flaks you're just an intellectually dishonest shit.)

William Wallace said...
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William Wallace said...
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William Wallace said...
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William Wallace said...
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William Wallace said...

SA Smith, chivalrous foodstamp pimps not withstanding, I really am curious to hear your response:

1. What do you have to say about Behe's response? I haven't read Behe's book, but plan to soon. The thread at PT doesn't seem to address Behe's response @ 12:34.
2. Is Behe in the KKMS interview mischaracterizing his own book?
3. Did you miss Behe's point about the "single binding site"?
4. Did your example entail more than a single binding site?
5. Please provide a scientific answer to a scientific question.
6. Where did you get Behe to admit the whole premise of his book was wrong? You might save me some time and money if you can substantiate this claim.
7. Other than state that you did not understand his book, how did Behe "dog you" on the KKMS live program?

Lledowyn, likewise, I want to know your response to my response to you.

William Wallace

P.S. Trivia: The caller in the KKMS audio @18:36 is none other than former governor of Minnesota and notable atheist Jesse Ventura's big brother, Jan Janos.

Behe: "...And I said such things could happen[useful defects such as sickle cell binding sites], and I said the limit for Darwinian evolution was two connected protein-protein binding sites. That is, if you need three proteins to do something, and each pair of proteins has to be connected by a site; you need two protein binding sites—I said that would be, based on the data that I talk about in the book _The Edge of Evolution_ that's the most you could expect out of Darwinian processes.

Now this lady—this graduate student, said well, hey, look, there's been a new binding site which has occurred in one protein in HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. And she was right, and I had not seen that. So I said, okay, well, there's another single binding site that has come about.

But again, you would expect that to happen because the odds against a single binding site popping up are not that prohibitive. But if you need two binding sites together to do something than that's what I said in my book was prohibitive. Since most molecular machines in the cell consist of aggregates of a dozen proteins or so, each of which have to bind very specifically to each other, that means that most of the protein machinery in the cell is well beyond Darwinian evolution.

Well, she mis-read the book.
"

Albatrossity said...

WW seems to be ignoring our previous conversation, so I will infer from that that he now understands the flimsiness of the evidence for at least one of his statements here.

Re Behe and what he said, I have read his book. The premise of the book is that functional protein-protein interactions cannot be generated by mutation and natural selection at a rate sufficient to explain evolution. He uses several examples to argue this point, but that is the major premise.

Yet, as detailed here (and yes, you will have to read quite a bit if you want the whole sad story), ERV pointed out to him that HIV evolved a functional protein-protein binding site sometime within the last 70-80 years or so. The biological data are unassailable, and Behe reluctantly admits that here.

He also then tries to weasel out of what it means. Since VPU is a single polypeptide chain, he argues, only one binding site evolved to generate the pentameric VPU complex that has the new function (ion channel). This argument is biochemically absurd (what does a protein-protein binding site mean, otherwise?), and is a hand-waving attempt to parse his original argument in a way that he can still defend it.

But he can't. Evolution of novel functional binding sites happens, and evidence for this comes not only from this recent example of HIV, but from lots of other proteins, as you will learn if you read all the material at the links above. As Ian Musgrave points out in his seventh open letter to Behe -
In summary, the HIV virus has evolved several binding sites since it first infected humans. The binding sites are representative of a broad range of binding sites that are of key importance in cellular function. They evolved in a short timespan when virus effective population was orders of magnitude below the 10^20 claimed necessary for binding site evolution. One of these binding sites makes a novel structure, a viroporin, which certainly out performs the HbS mutation. And that is just VPu, there is also a host of other binding sites which have only just been investigated (TRAIL upregulation CXCR4 binding, LTR binding etc.)

Behe's Edge of Evolution just crumbled, but it would take a bigger man than he is to admit it, particularly since he has given up science and depends on selling books to rubes these days.

William Wallace said...

"WW seems to be ignoring our previous conversation, so I will infer from that that he now understands the flimsiness of the evidence for at least one of his statements here."

Which conversation was that? The one in which you want me to back up the obvious, namely, "But, my observation is that if a bright young student starts asking tough questions, it doesn't take long before most evolutionists resort to ad hominems, quote mining allegations, attacks on religion, etc.—in accordance with NCSE/PandasThumb/TalkOrigins talking points."?

Take a look at Panda's thumb, or any evolutionist den, on any given Sunday (or MTWTFS).

But thanks for the brief narrative of the Behe/Smith controversy, Albatrossity.

I'll look it over.

But I still can't figure out from your summary if those who seem to loathe Behe, agree or disagree with Behe's assertion "but if you need two binding sites together to do something than that's what I said in my book was prohibitive."

After all, if Behe is correct in paraphrasing his own book, and it is the escape clause that he is relying on vis-a-vis Smith's arguments, the weight of the argument is on Behe's side, and Smith and her cheerleaders did a touchdown dance a little too early.

On the other hand, if Behe did not say this, and thought of it later, well, then, he is adapting the theory to match the observations, which shouldn't be a problem in evolutionist circles. But in this case, he should give credit to Smith, if she was the first to make a cogent argument against Behe's first supposedly incorrect assertion.

"Evolution of novel functional binding sites happens, and evidence for this comes not only from this recent example of HIV, but from lots of other proteins, as you will learn if you read all the material at the links above."

I'll read the material. But could you give me a spoiler?

Do any of these novel binding sites exceed the "two or more" threshold set by Behe?

Such a simple question.

Albatrossity said...

WW writes: Which conversation was that? The one in which you want me to back up the obvious?

Yep, that one. The one where you couldn't back up anything except with a single example. And despite your pointing to PT and other blogs as evidence for your assertion, the fact remains that "bright young students" are usually met with a lot more respect than you are, for some reason.

Now as to what Behe said. Even though you claim to have read the stuff at those links, it's pretty obvious that you didn't do that, or you wouldn't keep asking the question. You seem to want folks to do your homework for you. You haven't even read Behe's book. Simple biochemistry seems to be beyond your comprehension. Unfortunately, you seem to exhibit very few of the hallmarks of the "bright young student"...

So I'll back up and make it even more simple.

Behe's general premise is that mutation and natural selection cannot happen fast enough to generate the changes needed to explain the generation of life's diversity. A specific sub-premise is that novel protein-protein interactions, requiring TWO new binding sites, are incredibly rare; he tosses around the 10^20 number here (see p. 135 or p. 143 of his book when you get around to it). If this subpremise is shown to be invalid; his basic premise is unsupported. I'll leave it to others to explain how his ignorance of the malaria literature also invalidates his other subpremises; we'll concentrate on HIV and Vpu.

What happened to Vpu? There was a mutation, sometime after HIV first appeared in humans, that allowed it to form a new structure, a viroporin. This structure is beneficial to the virus, for reasons which you can also discover when you do the required reading. The new structure is a pentameric ion channel, containing 5 Vpu monomers, now imbedded in a membrane bilayer. That mutation generated a new site on Vpu. And here's a key item of information, which you do not appear to know in your ignorance of biochemistry, but which Behe (as a biochemist) has NO EXCUSE for not knowing. Proteins are sticky; they stick to each other quite a lot. Some of them stick to membranes as well. So what happens when a new site is generated? It might stick to another protein at a pre-existing site! No additional mutation is required on the second protein! You don't need two mutations! Behe's math, based on this bogus assumption, is thus also bogus! In other words, the entire premise of his book is invalidated.

And that is exactly what happened to Vpu. In this case the mutation generated a site that sticks to another site on the same protein, and also changes the conformation such that membrane binding is now possible. The pentamer, composed of Vpu subunits bound to each other via a new binding site, inserts into a membrane, and functions as an ion channel. This mutation happened sometime during the last 70-80 years.

So when Behe asserts (p. 139) that "there have been no significant biochemical changes in the virus at all", he is wrong. When he states (also on p 139) "Neither has much else happened at a molecular level. No new gizmos or molecular machinery. There have been no reports of new viral protein-protein interactions developing in an infected cell due to mutations in HIV proteins"; he is also wrong. This is a significant biochemical change, resulting from a novel protein-protein interaction, occurring in the last 70-80 years. He ignores the literature (again). A good peer-review would have picked up these omissions, but as we all know, Behe doesn't submit his work to peer reviewers these days.

William Wallace said...

Albatrossity, who are you trying to fool?

Albatrossity: "Even though you claim to have read the stuff at those links, it's pretty obvious that you didn't do that, or you wouldn't keep asking the question."

Ignoring that I had just written:

William Wallace: "I'll read the material. But could you give me a spoiler?

Do any of these novel binding sites exceed the "two or more" threshold set by Behe?

Such a simple question.
"

It is duly noted that this simple question went unanswered.

Clue: "I'll" is a contraction of "I" and "will". Not "I" and "have".

Let me make it simple:

Do any of these novel binding sites exceed the "two or more" threshold set by Behe?

Do any of these novel binding sites exceed the "two or more" threshold set by Behe?

Do any of these novel binding sites exceed the "two or more" threshold set by Behe?

Assuming that I will continue to not get an answer to this basic question, I have ordered Behe's book. I have a feeling that Behe's account of the dispute will be more accurate.

Albatrossity said...

WW - I understand that you didn't read the book. My point was that you were (and still are) asking others to do your work for you.

WW wrote: Such a simple question. Do any of these novel binding sites exceed the "two or more" threshold set by Behe?

Reading comprehension doesn't appear to be your strong suit either.

Apparently your search for an answer ends with the simple ones. If you want a simple yes or no answer, it's no. But they don't have to exceed it to generate a novel function for this protein (which is, remember, his basic premise). That's the point, and it is a bit more complex than you seem to want to understand.

Quit focusing on the threshold and pay attention to the evidence. Behe's threshold is bogus; real data provide evidence that you don't need two or more mutations to generate a novel binding site that generates a new function. So no, the example I gave does not exceed his bogus threshold. But the real data from HIV (and many other systems), unfettered by Behe's labored misunderstandings and delusional calculations, say that his threshold is useless. Only fools cling to a defense of a number that is invalid. Being technically correct about a detail and wrong about the big picture may be useful in a court of law, but it is different in science. Real mutations in real viruses in real people indicate that he is wrong about his basic premise. And no amount of retreating to a bogus threshold calculation will save him from that reality.

If it makes you feel better that Behe can be correct in asserting that this is not a case of two binding sites developing simultaneously, hopefully that joy will be tempered if and when you realize that he is still wrong about what it takes to generate novel functional roles for real proteins in real biological systems, not in some arid mathematical universe based on bad assumptions.

So please do read Behe's book. But even before that, please do let me know if you comprehend why the things that he says on p. 139 are wrong, and why the fact of their wrongness invalidates his entire premise. He may be able to parse his words about the numbers and what this example means in terms of those bogus numbers. It is also possible that the simple answer may make you think that he is on the right track. But the complex answer is that Behe is wrong about what it takes to generate diversity; he is wrong about the basic premise of his book, as has been pointed out to you all along. And in order to be so wrong, he had to ignore literally hundreds of published papers, make bad assumptions, invoke supernatural mechanisms, and pretend that he is still a working scientist.

What's your excuse?

William Wallace said...

"What's your excuse?"

I am studying this stuff just now in the past few days, and will, I think, continue to do so in the coming weeks.

I think you might have made your point better if you had originally said something like: "No, none of the functions involved two or more binding sites, but Behe's criteria is bunk because..." followed by your reasoning.

Albatrossity said...

ww wrote: I think you might have made your point better if you had originally said something like: "No, none of the functions involved two or more binding sites, but Behe's criteria is bunk because..." followed by your reasoning.

Sorry, but I made two assumptions that appear to be incorrect.

1) you are similar to a "bright young student" (having some solid background in the material that you wish to discuss) and

2) you could read and understand the implications of what you read (not just what I wrote, but at the links I provided).

I promise not to go by those mistaken assumptions again. Enjoy your reading.

ERV said...

Dear William Wallace--
Hi. Im ERV. I have little (ie 'no') interest in conversing with Creationists. This blog is set up to take science and put it in a form where non-scientists can defend themselves against Creationists. Youll notice that other commenters on my blog have done just that, so I am happy as a clam. However they have made a few little errors, and Ill make sure to make things more clear in a future post (tonight/tomorrow/eh).

Lledowyn said...

YAY! Science class from Abbie! ;-)

Tyler DiPietro said...

Wow, four comments following mine deleted, followed in turn by a post that fails to address me. I must have scared the living fuck out of William. I love myself.

William Wallace said...

ERV, let me know when.
"I have little (ie 'no') interest in conversing with Creationists."

Yeah, I've noted that evolutionists generally prefer logical fallacy over reasoned discourse.

(And yet you took such great offense when Behe did not want to converse with you.)

ERV said...

You are asking me to do work that you are capable of doing yourself, and asking questions which have been answered numerous times on this blog. The search feature is in the upper right-hand corner of Blogger.

ERV said...

*left corner

Lledowyn said...

Hi William,

Sorry for not responding to you sooner, but I have finals coming up and I've been busy finishing my nifty final project. It's a simulation of the formation of the solar system, and there's quite a bit of debugging left to do. *sigh*

Anyway, I think I know where your problem lies. You see, when it comes to science, you can't start from a conclusion and then work your way backwards. Instead, you start with an observation, you form a hypothesis, you create an experiment to prove or disprove your hypothesis, you run the experiment, and then you analyze the results. If the results agree with your hypothesis, you can then develop further experiments to double check it, or even to explore new avenues of research, and so on and so forth. It's an iterative process that continues, and builds upon the hard work of scientists of the past, as well as your contemporary scientists.

Now from your comments, it appears that you are starting with the conclusion that your god must have done it, and the issue is that you have no proof to show for it. You have yourself stated that you are just now learning this stuff (which is great, learning is a wonderful endeavor), so you can't assume that your conclusion is going to just be taken as is, and not challenged. If you want to claim that your god is the creator of everything, you need to come up with evidence of him/her, or even present him/her.

The argument that, 'gee, this is so complex, god must have done it,' is what is called an argument from ignorance. For example, thunder is not something that was understood for many generations, and several cultures had thunder gods of one form or another in their pantheons. However, as our knowledge grows, you come to realize there is less and less room for gods to explain everything, since you find that there is a perfectly natural explanation for it.

Now as far as your example that uses computer code, it’s a cute example, but it really proves nothing. Here’s why. When it comes to programming, you can find books that talk about the origin of the programming language, books that teach how to use it, etc. If you’re really interested, you can hunt down the actual creator of the language, and ask him how he did it, and why he did it that way. Can you do that with your god?

The other thing is that unlike living organisms, programs are neither alive, nor do they reproduce. And like I stated above, you can talk to the people that wrote the programs. Living organisms, on the other hand, reproduce, and in the process of reproducing, mutations can occur in the DNA that comes from organism A that fertilizes organism B. Most of these mutations are nice and benign, and you wouldn’t know that anything went wrong. However, sometimes, you get a beneficial mutation, that can give that organism an edge in the competition for mates, or in the competition for survival.

For example, ever heard of humans with more than 2 kidneys? I happen to know a person that has 4, which is a mutation. Now, since I’m not a doctor, I feel ill equipped to say whether or not that is a beneficial mutation or not, but it’s the kind of thing that you can expect to happen over time. I can tell you though that she has had 2 children and they also carry part of her DNA that might also include that particular mutation of hers. Over time, it’s quite possible that the mutation that she had is propagated enough that it becomes normal for the human species to have 4 kidneys (Again that’s assuming that it’s a beneficial, or at the very least benign mutation. If it can affect her, or her children’s, life expectancy in any way, then the odds of it becoming “normal” become less).

So when it comes to programming you can indeed say that it was designed, when it comes to living things, you need to come up with some evidence to prove that it was designed. I really do hope that you can realize where you’re going wrong with your reasoning. Starting with a conclusion, and then trying to make everything fit that conclusion will simply get you nowhere, and you really will not learn anything at all. I suggest that you go to your nearest bookstore and buy some books on the scientific method, or even books that show experiments that you can do at home, so that you can get some experience thinking in this way. Science is really a great tool, and our society is a tribute to the scientific discoveries of the past (e.g. your computer alone is a wonderful testament and tribute to science). Think about it William and I hope that you can find some enlightenment.

William Wallace said...

ERV,

You wrote: "You are asking me to do work that you are capable of doing yourself, and asking questions which have been answered numerous times on this blog."

Trust me, I am doing my research. I have to wade through a bunch of whining, name calling (e.g., "sleazy"), and ostentatious touchdown dances while investigating the Smith/Behe dispute.

It took awhile, but somebody finally did say "no" to the simple question:

"WW: Do any of these novel binding sites exceed the "two or more" threshold set by Behe?[snip]...lbatrossity: If you want a simple yes or no answer, it's no."

Based on this, and you backing out of the "corrections" you promised, it seems that Behe's version of the dispute on the KKMS mp3 is probably correct, and you did force Behe to make a minor correction, assuming Behe's paraphrasing of his own book was accurate. But the minor correction doesn't seem to have caused Behe to disavow his own book, as you indicated when you wrote "I got Behe to admit the whole premise of his new book 'Edge of Evolution' was wrong".

Behe's overall point is unassailed as best I can tell right now, but I will continue to investigate the Behe/Smith dispute.

Lledowyn:

I hope you did well on your tests. And I appreciate your taking the time to reason.

You wrote: "Now from your comments, it appears that you are starting with the conclusion that your god must have done it, and the issue is that you have no proof to show for it."

Actually, I think you make the common mistake of confusing a critique or counterexample with a solution.

"Now as far as your example that uses computer code, it’s a cute example, but it really proves nothing."

Proves??????

The "cute" (read: persuasive) counterexample served its stated purpose of illustrating other possible explanations given the same set of presented facts, and highlighting that skepticism of assertions of "evidence of common descent" is reasonable. I do not think your observations on the existence of programmers and programming books diminishes this.

"The other thing is that unlike living organisms, programs are neither alive, nor do they reproduce."

Only life begets life, right? But, where did life come from? Or has it always existed?

Minor correction, with which you will agree if you think about it: some computer programs do replicate, and even self modify. Strangely, such programs are often called computer viruses, but I can't quite figure out why.

(And, inconveniently, they must be designed.)

ERV said...

Albatrossity is incorrect. Please read Musgraves 'Open Letters' files.

And, you are incorrect about Behes claims (>2). If he lied on air to weasel out of what he said in 'Edge', then by all means, read 'Edge.' Its available at most public libraries, no need to buy it.

Lledowyn said...

Hi William,

Thanks for the well wishes. The tests are actually next week, so I'm still studying, but I absolutely needed a break if I want to keep my brain from completely frying, thus I'm here. :)

Now as far as your response (which I will go through in no particular order), the creation of life is called abiogenesis. This is another area of research, and it's separate from evolutionary research. However, there are some scientists (and I think Abbie made a post about them), that are extremely close to creating their own, completely human made organism. So no, life didn't always exist, but the study of how it formed is yielding some good results, and we might not be far from "making" life ourselves.

Evolutionary research sticks to the understanding of how life, once formed, changes, sometimes adapts or goes extinct due to a changing environment, and the mechanism that it uses in order to continue to survive. The theory of evolution is the accepted theory because it has survived constant scrutiny for almost 150 years. Think about that, a theory that has been able to survive for 150 years stands on a pretty solid foundation. This is also akin to the theory of gravity, which also has met with a lot of scrutiny.

As far as stating that there are alternative theories, you're right about that. However, none have managed to achieve the same kind of results as the theory of evolution, and ID can't even be classified amongst them because it doesn't even reach the level of theory yet (it's closer to hypothesis really). Further, the current theory of evolution is the main basis of biology. Like Abbie has stated on numerous occasions, if the theory of evolution is wrong, then all of the research that she’s doing is pointless, because she would be starting with flawed assumptions (and her experiments and results would show that it was wrong). However, since the theory is so well made, and tested, she can use those assumptions, and her experiments reflect the veracity of her assumptions.

As far as your example of computer viruses, you're right that they do indeed self propagate, and some do modify themselves, but that's hardly the kind of thing that happens in living organisms. Here's why. When a computer virus is designed to change itself, all it does is change its checksum, or change its initial bytes, etc so that when an anti-virus software does a search for it, it misses it. The key thing is that this behavior is coded into the virus, and the virus didn't figure this out on its own. Also, this is not a mutation, because the “new” virus is the same virus, with the same functionality, with just a different checksum, or some trivial change like that (incidentally this is no longer an effective virus writing tactic because the anti-virus software folk have figured out ways around it). The virus will never change to the point where it can do other things, or “grow” into another kind of program. Really, the fact that they are designed is no big deal because, again, they are not alive.

Life, on the other hand, has no such coding to modify itself. The mutations can happen randomly, sometimes due to disease, such as ERVs, and sometimes as a result of a genetic mutation, etc. This isn’t coded into the organism, it happens because the process of copying the DNA is just not perfect. If it was, we’d be a bunch of semi-clones running around.

Now you mention that I’m making an incorrect assumption, and if I am, I apologize. So could you explain your idea for the mechanism that life uses to evolve? Knowing that, then perhaps I can have a better understanding of where you’re coming from. It just appears from your blog and your comments here that you’re a creationist, but if you’re not, again I apologize, and would like to know where you’re really coming from.

Lastly, I looked at your example again, and I still don’t see it. Computer programs and living organisms are two different things. Common descent is something that is seen not just in DNA, but is also verified via other methods (e.g. fossil record). A computer program though is just written and if you look at some code that looks similar to another, who cares? Perhaps it would make more sense to me if I wasn’t a programmer, but I’m really not seeing how your example works to “…illustrat[e] other possible explanations given the same set of presented facts,” since with programming, we created it, and we know where it came from. Again, being a programmer might be why this example is not connecting with me.

Anyway, let us know where you’re coming from so that we can better understand your arguments.

Albatrossity said...

Albatrossity is incorrect. Please read Musgraves 'Open Letters' files.

What? Incorrect?

Oh well, it's happened before, and will happen henceforth. And I do have trouble keeping track of what Behe said when :-)

But I would definitely appreciate it if you would point out to me the nature and extent of my incorrectness.

thanks

ERV said...

Alby-- Its not your fault :P Not only is Behe lying about what he wrote about in 'Edge' and lying about his previous excuses to get out of this, but WW doesnt understand Behes blithering enough to ask a cognizant question on the topic (also not his fault).

We know of at least three different protein complexes that involve Vpu, which all involve >2 protein binding sites-- Vpu-CD4-BTRCP, VPU pentamers, and Vpu-tetherin.

Lledowyn said...

Wow! And that's just within 70-80 years of evolution right? That's absolutely amazing, and probably one of the reasons why HIV is so insidious. I really hope your research can beat this thing Abbie. :)

Albatrossity said...

We know of at least three different protein complexes that involve Vpu, which all involve >2 protein binding sites

Yeah, I was focused on the Vpu viroporin, but I was not aware that more than one amino acid change was needed, or that the binding of one Vpu monomer to the others was characterized at the amino acid level.

I'm not a virologist, so I don't keep up with that literature. I'll check out the Vpu/tetherin cite in Nature; thanks for that link. But I didn't see the primary cites for the first two in Ian's letters; if you get a chance, I'd appreciate the primary literature citations for those as well.

William Wallace said...

For the record, my copy of Behe's book came today. Page 139 is in a chapter titled "The Two-Binding Sites rule".

This does not bode well for ERV's claims quoted above.

ERV said...

Only if you havent read a damn word Ive written. Or Behes responses. Have at thee, Willy-- defend Behe even though Behe cant defend Behe.