Monday, August 24, 2009

Josh Rosenau Calls Casey Luskin on the Carpet

Josh Rosenau of Thoughts from Kansas notes that Casey Luskin's recent apology for misreading Kenneth Miller comes off a bit lacking in factual integrity. Luskin wrote:
In a recent post, I noted that Ken Miller misrepresented Michael Behe’s arguments on the irreducible complexity of the blood clotting cascade in his book, Only a Theory. When I blogged at the end of last year about Miller’s similar mistakes at the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, Dr. Miller responded by making me aware of something I did not previously know: apparently Michael Behe wrote the section in Of Pandas and People on blood clotting.
Rosenau responds:
Under normal circumstances, it would suffice to congratulate Casey for finally acknowledging his ignorance, but alas, we must not pause to revel in that minor miracle. Like so many miraculous claims, it vanishes under investigation.

First of all, it is implausible that Casey wouldn't have been aware of Behe's involvement in Pandas. Casey, after all, has been involved with Behe, Pandas, and the broader ID movement for long enough that ignorance of any widely known fact in any of those three areas is a dubious claim.

Indeed, Casey was at the Dover trial when Behe discussed his involvement in writing parts of Pandas. He even used that involvement to browbeat reporters during the trial itself, writing:

"Behe was a contributor to Pandas, it was on the blood clotting cascade section (found in Chapter 6, "Biochemical Similarities")…"
I would like to think that Mr. Luskin forgot this little bit of information. We all forget things. Luskin's account of the differences between Behe's early work with Of Pandas and People and what showed up in Darwin's Black Box goes like this:
I contacted Behe about the differences between the two works, and he informed me that the differences between the treatment of blood clotting in Pandas (1993) and Darwin’s Black Box (1996) were the result of his refining, tightening, improving, and revising his arguments before publishing Darwin's Black Box. There's nothing wrong with Behe updating and improving his arguments.
That is fair enough. The rest of Luskin's post is an attack on the "random, undirected processes of mutation and natural selection" language that shows up in several places in Miller and Levine's textbook on biology. I do not have a copy of this book so I have no reason to doubt Luskin on this. There may be more than enough fuzzy memories to go around on this one.

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