Re: [asa] Lets move beyond straw men and uninformed opinion

From: Pim van Meurs <>
Date: Fri Dec 01 2006 - 12:59:30 EST

On Dec 1, 2006, at 6:52 AM, James Mahaffy wrote:

>> Yet Behe is someone who got grants and knew how to publish before he
>> identified himself with the ID
>> movement so hwen he suddenly gets different reviews he might be
> reading
>> it right.
>> PvM: What research has Behe done? What is his record on grants?
> When Behe first became known, the first thing I did was check a
> journal database and found he had a bunch of peer reviewed
> articles. I wanted to know what type of scientist he was. That is
> course one of the reasons he has an impact.
 From 1995 onwards Behe's CV looks unimpressive, even his more
extensive CV shows no evidence of publications before 1995. So let's
dig deeper: Until 1995 he was a professor of Chemistry and switched
to Biochemistry in 1995. Perhaps Behe's CV shows how scientifically
unfruitful the concept of Intelligent Design really is.

Puhl, H.L. & Behe, M.J. 1995. Poly[dA]@poly[dT] forms very stable
nucleosomes at
higher temperatures. J. Mol. Biol. 245, 559-567.

Behe, M.J. 1994. Experimental support for regarding functional
classes of proteins to be
highly isolated from each other. In Darwinism: Science or Philosophy?
Buell, J. &
Hearn, V., eds., pp. 60-71, Foundation for Thought and Ethics,
Richardson, Texas.

Puhl, H.L. & Behe, M.J. 1993. The structure of nucleosomal DNA at
high salt
concentration as probed by hydroxyl radical. J. Mol. Biol. 229, 827-832.

Getts, R.C. & Behe, M.J. 1992. Isolated oligopurine tracts do not
significantly affect the
binding of DNA to nucleosomes. Biochemistry 31, 5380-5385.

Puhl, H.L., Gudibande, S.R. & Behe, M.J. 1991. Poly[d(A@T)] and other
polydeoxynucleotides containing oligoadenosine tracts form
nucleosomes easily. J. Mol.
Biol. 222, 1149-1160.

Getts, R.C. & Behe, M.J. 1991. Eukaryotic DNA does not form
nucleosomes as readily
as some prokaryotic DNA. Nucleic Acids Res. 19, 5923-5927.

Jayasena, V.K. & Behe, M.J. 1991. Oligopurine@oligopyrimidine tracts
do not have the
same conformation as analogous polypurine@polypyrimidines.
Biopolymers 31, 511-518.

Behe, M.J. & Beasty, A.M. 1991. Co-polymer tracts in eukaryotic,
prokaryotic, and
organellar DNA. DNA Sequence 1, 291-302.

Behe, M.J., Lattman, E.E. & Rose, G.D. 1991. The Protein Folding
Problem: the native
fold determines packing, but does packing determine the native fold?
Proc. Natl. Acad.
Sci USA 88, 4195-4199.

Behe, M.J. 1990. Histone deletion mutants challenge the molecular
clock hypothesis.
Trends Biochem. Sci. 15, 374-376.

Behe, M.J. 1990. Histone-DNA Interactions. In The Biology of Non-
specific DNA-
Protein Interactions, A. Revzin (ed.), pp. 229-249, CRC Press, Boca

Jayasena, V.K. & Behe, M.J. 1989. The B-Z transition in supercoiled
DNA depends on
sequence beyond nearest-neighbors. Nucleic Acids Res. 17, 6523-6529.

Jayasena, S.D. & Behe, M.J. 1989. Competitive nucleosome
reconstitution of
polydeoxynucleo-tides containing oligoguanosine tracts. J. Mol. Biol.
208, 297-306.

Jayasena, S.D., & Behe, M.J. 1989. Nucleosome reconstitution of core-
length poly
dG@poly dC and poly (rG-dC)@poly (rG-dC). Biochemistry 28, 975-980.

Luthman, K., & Behe, M.J. 1988. Sequence dependence of DNA structure:
The B, Z, &
A conformations of polydeoxynucleotides containing repeating units of
6 to 16 base
pairs. J. Biol. Chem. 263, 15535-15539.

Gudibande, S.R., Jayasena, S.D., & Behe, M.J. 1988. Circular
dichroism studies of
double-stranded polydeoxynucleotides composed of repeating units of
homopurine residues. Biopolymers 27, 1905-1915.

Beasty, A.M., & Behe, M.J. 1988. An oligopurine sequence bias occurs
in eukaryotic
viruses. Nucleic Acids Res. 16, 1517-1528.
Farrell, H.M., Jr., Bingham, E.W., & Behe, M.J. 1988. Purification
and properties of an
acid phosphoprotein phosphatase from lactating bovine mammary gland
with activity
toward phosphotyrosine. J. Dairy. Sci. 71, 316-323.

Behe, Michael J. 1987. The DNA sequence of the human $-globin region
is strongly
biased in favor of long strings of contiguous purine or pyrimidine
residues. Biochemistry
26, 7870-7875.

Jayasena, S.D., & Behe, M.J. 1987. Influence of tetraalkyl ammonium
ions on the
structure of poly (rG-dC)@poly (rG-dC): unexpected transitions among
the Z, A, and B
conformations. Nucleic Acids Res. 15, 3907-3916.

Farrell, H.M., Jr., Behe, M.J., & Enyeart, J.A. 1987. Binding of p-
nitrophenyl phosphate
and other aromatic compounds by "-lactoglobulin. J. Dairy Sci. 70,

Schorschinsky, N., & Behe, M.J. 1986. Sequence dependence of
structure: The B-Z transition of poly d(CGCGCGTGCA). J. Biol. Chem.
261, 8093-8095.

Behe, M.J. 1986. Vacuum ultraviolet circular dichroism of the low
salt Z forms of poly
(rG-dC)@ poly (rG-dC) and poly (dG-m5dC)@poly (dG-m5dC). Biopolymers
25, 519-

Wu, H.-Y., & Behe, M.J. 1985. Methylated pyrimidines stabilize an
conformation of poly (dA-dU)@poly (dA-dU). Biochemistry 24, 5499-5502.

Wu, H.-Y., & Behe, M.J. 1985. Salt induced transitions between
multiple distinct
conformations of poly (rG-m5dC)@poly (rG-m5dC). Nucleic Acids Res.
13, 3931-3940.

Behe, M.J., Szu, S.C., Charney, E., & Felsenfeld, G. 1985.
Temperature dependence of
the B-Z transition in poly (dG-dC)@poly (dG-dC) and poly (dG-m5dC)
@poly (dG-m5dC)
in the presence of various counterions. Biopolymers 24, 289-300.

Wu, H.-Y., & Behe, M.J. 1984. Salt induced Z-A-Z transition sequence
in the mixed
ribo-deoxyribo co-polymer poly (rG-dC)@poly (rG-dC). Proc. Natl.
Acad. Sci. USA 81,

Chen, H.H., Behe, M.J., & Rau, D. 1984. Critical amount of
oligovalent ion binding
required for the BZ transition of poly (dG-m5dC)@poly (dG-m5dC).
Nucleic Acids Res.
12, 2381-2389.

Chen, C.W., Cohen, J.S., & Behe, M.J. 1983. The B to Z transition of
double stranded
poly (deoxyguanyl 5-methyl deoxycytidine) in solution by 31P and 13C NMR
spectroscopy. Biochemistry 22, 2136-2142.

Felsenfeld, G., Nickol, J., Behe, M., McGhee, J., & Jackson, D. 1983.
Methylation and
chromatin structure. Cold Spring Harbor Symp. Quant. Biol. 47, 577-584.

Felsenfeld, G., McGhee, J., Rau, D., Wood, W., Nickol, J., & Behe, M.
1982. Chromatin
conformation and gene activity. In Gene Regulation, B.W. O’Malley,
ed. Vol. XXVI, pp
121-135. Academic Press, New York.

Nickol, J., Behe, M.J., & Felsenfeld, G. 1982. The effect of the B-Z
transition in poly
(dG-m5dC)@ poly (dG-m5dC) on nucleosome formation. Proc. Natl. Acad.
Sci. USA 79,

Behe, M.J., Zimmerman, S., & Felsenfeld, G. 1981. Changes in the
helical repeat of poly
(dGm5dC) @poly (dG-m5dC) and poly (dG-dC)@poly (dG-dC) associated
with the B-Z
transition. Nature 293, 233-234.

Behe, M.J. & Felsenfeld, G. 1981. Effects of methylation on a
synthetic polynucleotide:
The B-Z transition in poly (dG-m5dC)@poly (dG-m5dC). Proc. Natl.
Acad. Sci. USA 78,

Behe, M.J., & Englander, S.W. 1979. Quantitative assessment of the
inhibition of sickle hemoglobin gelation by phenyl derivatives and
other known agents.
Biochemistry 18, 4196-4199.

Behe, M.J., & Englander, S.W. 1979. Mixed gelation theory: Kinetics,
equilibrium, and
gel incorporation in sickle hemoglobin mixtures. J. Mol. Biol. 133,

Behe, M.J., & Englander, S.W. 1978. Sickle hemoglobin gelation:
Reaction order and
critical nucleus size. Biophys. J. 23, 129-145.


> While I don't know the specifics, like most researchers even at
> smaller
> schools he was getting grants to support his research. I know this
> in part because I
> contacted him a couple weeks ago (no I am not ID although I think
> some of them are
> doing good work).
> You may not like Behe's interest in explaining (or saying you can't
> explain by standard Darwinian theory) some of the complex cellular
> machinery - but anyone who has taught cell biology and knows some
> of that complexity knows it is a good issue that is largely avoided
> in part from philosophical reasons.

Anyone who has researched these issues would know that science is
making incredible progress in these areas and that it is not avoided
at all, certainly not because of philosophical reasons. So let's not
make such unfounded accusations. An approach of 'we cannot explain X'
seems to be a very poor scientific principle. No explanations, no
predictions, nothing. And remember that Behe acknowledges
evolutionary pathways, he just asserts that they are unlikely.

> Behe also has no problem with common descent (I do) so you are
> perhaps picking on the wrong person.

Why? Just because some of his ideas are more reasonable than others,
I should ignore the latter ones?

> Pick on one of the YEC in the ID camp (but then read enough to
> know who they are). They would make a better straw man.

A better strawman? In what sense would they make strawmen? I agree
though that other than the rebutted concept of IC, Behe is largely
uninteresting and Dembski makes for a much better source.
YEC scientifically speaking is uninteresting and a long history
rebutting their position exists. Furthermore, calling someone YEC to
rebut his arguments is hardly that effective.

>> PvM: The poor quality of Meyer's paper has caused some to suggest
> that
>> perhaps the peer review had not been as thorough.
> Is it really the poor quality or is that you think his thesis is
> untenable. Have you even read the article? There are
> two sides to the story and it could equally be read as others were
> just horrified that their journal had published something by an ID
> person.

I have read it and Meyers ignores much research, misunderstands
research all to further his case that our ignorance should thus be
seen as evidence of design.

For example, let me quote from

Meyer when discussing [1] the Cambrian period states the following

     One way to estimate the amount of new CSI [2] that appeared with
the Cambrian animals is to count the number of new cell types that
emerged with them (Valentine 1995:91—93). [

The full reference reads: Valentine, I. W. 1995. Late Precambrian
bilaterians: grades and clades. Pp. 87—107 in W M. Fitch and FJ.
Ayala, eds., Tempo and mode in evolution: genetics and paleontology
50 years after Simpson. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C..

The paper also appeared in PNAS as: Valentine, J.W. 1994. Late
Precambrian bilaterians: grades and clades. Proc Natl Acad Sci U.S.A.
July 19; 91 (15): 6751-6757.

Notice my surprise when I thus read

     Cell-phenotype numbers in living phyla, and a model of cell-
phenotype number increase, suggest an origin of metazoans near 600 my
ago, followed by a passive rise in body-plan complexity. Living phyla
appearing during the Cambrian explosion have a Hox/HOM gene cluster,
implying its presence in the common ancestral trace makers. The
explosion required a repatterning of gene expression that mediated
the development of novel body plans but evidently did not require an
important, abrupt increase in genomic or morphologic complexity.

But perhaps the measure used by Valentine would give some support to
Meyer’s arguments?

     At present there is no evidence of a major step in body-plan
complexity during the Cambrian explosion.

So why would Meyer quote Valentine as supportive of Meyer’s claim that

     The Cambrian explosion represents a remarkable jump in the
specified complexity or “complex specified information” (CSJ) of the
biological world.

When the actual paper does not lend much support to such a thesis.

> People talk about the Cambrian sudden appearance, but few mention the
> sudden appearance of the angiosperms. My training was in paleobotany
> and I have read something in the area.

Cool. I believe that people may misunderstand what this 'sudden
appearance' truly looks like and understanding Angiosperms would be
quite fascinating

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Received on Fri Dec 1 13:00:32 2006

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