Re: [asa] Behe's bad math

From: PvM <>
Date: Sat Jun 02 2007 - 17:26:57 EDT

Although I understand Behe quotes Gavrilets, he seems to be unaware of
his work when it comes to high dimensional landscapes which for all
practical purposes fully contradict Behe.

Secondly fitness landscapes depend on the kind of mutation, and not
all mutations lead to small phenotype changes.

Too bad the book was as 'peer reviewed' as the original... For those
unaware of the level of peer review, see the Kitzmiller transcripts,
quite funny as well.

n 2005, while testifying for the defense in the Kitzmiller v. Dover
Area School District trial, Michael Behe claimed under oath that
Darwin's Black Box received even more thorough peer review than a
scholarly article in a refereed journal.[6]

Behe's testimony has resulted in controversy as it appears to be in
direct conflict with known facts about the book's peer review. Four of
the book's five reviewers Michael Atchison, Robert Shapiro, K. John
Morrow, and Russell Doolittle made statements that contradict or
otherwise do not support Behe's claim of Darwin's Black Box having
passed a rigorous peer review process.

Atchison has stated that he did not review the book at all, but spent
10 minutes on the phone receiving a brief overview of the book which
he then endorsed without ever seeing the text.[7] Robert Shapiro has
said that he did review the book, and while he agreed with some of its
analysis of origin-of-life research, he thinks its conclusions are
false. He did, however, say that he thought that Behe's book was the
best explanation of the argument from design that was available.[8] K.
John Morrow criticised the book as appalling and unsupported, which
contributed to the original publisher turning down the book for
publication.[9] And Dr. Russell Doolittle, whose own work on blood
clotting Behe based much of the arguments in Darwin's Black Box on
reviewed the book and described it as misrepresenting many important
points and disingenuous, which also contributed to the original
publisher turning down the book for publication.[10]

On 6/2/07, David Buller <> wrote:
> I've looked into the claims and reviews of Behe's book so far, and these
> seem to be the main problems with one of his main claims, that species can
> get "stuck" on the peaks of the adaptive landscape:
> 1. Behe does not recognize that the peaks of an adaptive landscape are only
> peaks when viewed from a limited number of dimensions. In other words,
> start looking at all the dimensions, and the species is no longer stuck.
> There isn't merely one variable in a particular biological structure. For
> example, a finch beak can get longer or shorter, but there are many more
> variables, giving you a much more complex many-dimensional adaptive
> landscape.
> 2. Behe assumes that that the adaptive landscape is static. In other
> words, if you're surrounded by valleys, you always will be.
> 3. Behe assumes that only small changes can be made by evolution; does he
> mention hybridization, symbiosis, gene duplication, and certain mutations
> that can cause a large shift in just a few (or one) step(s), in essense
> "jumping" across the adaptive landscape?
> 4. Behe assumes that a species will never take a small excursion down an
> adaptive peak, eventually starting up another.
> In addition, I'll be interested to see if Behe ever addresses complexity
> theory and other non-Darwinian forms of evolution. Self-organizational
> theories would throw a monkey wrench in his arguments. If we didn't know
> what causes a vortex in a sink, for example, and we had never observed one
> directly, we might have someone like Behe telling us that the probability of
> all those water molecules perfectly arranging themselves in such an
> organized (Dembski would call it "specified complexity") pattern on their
> own and by stictly natural processes is one in trillions of trillions. I
> think the argument over abiogenesis is quite similar; once the exact
> processes are understood (if they ever are), the probability arguments of
> Behe et. al. will sould pretty ridiculous.
> Unfortunately, much of the book seems to be based upon an elementary
> understanding of evolution, statistics, and specifically the adaptive
> landscape. How much of this faulty reasoning will be eaten up by Christians
> trying to defend God from evolution? One interesting point to note is (from
> what I hear) the book seems to contain even less novelty than Darwin's Black
> Box. Irreducible complexity was a new term in '96, but are Behe's
> misconceptions about the adaptive landscape anything new? I don't think so!
> Anyway, I look forward to reading more about the book once it comes out.
> -David Buller
> On 6/1/07, PvM <> wrote:
> >
> > Behe's new book is out and the reviews are not favorable so far
> >
> >
> > <quote>Review copies of Michael Behe's new book The Edge of Evolution
> > are now out the book is officially coming out on June 5 and now
> > the reviews are starting. Mark C. Chu-Carroll at Good Math, Bad Math,
> > has beat us all to the punch. I perceived many of these problems while
> > giving The Edge of Evolution my own read-through, but it takes a
> > mathematician to comment on Behe's abuse of fitness landscapes and
> > probability arguments with the appropriate sense of outrage.
> >
> > I am sure we will have much more on Behe's latest starting in June. My
> > first take is that The Edge of Evolution is basically an incompetent
> > attempt to provide a biological foundation for the silly assumptions
> > that were made in Behe and Snoke's (2004) mathematical modeling paper
> > in Protein Science. (You will recall that it received its most
> > thorough critique here at PT and also in a rebuttal written in Protein
> > Science by Michael Lynch; and a biological rebuttal in this 2006 paper
> > in Science see also summary by Adami.)</quote>
> >
> > At "Good Math Bad Math" Mark C. Chu-Carroll minces no words
> >
> >
> >
> >
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Received on Sat Jun 2 17:27:55 2007

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