Michael Behe’s “secret obsessions”

In his latest post at Evolution News and Views, Michael Behe calls the authors of posts at New Scientist and Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News ‘crazy’ and ‘clueless’ for associating arguments about the bacterial flagellum with intelligent design (“New Paper on Flagellum Reveals Secret Obsessions“):

Suppose in the course of a pleasant conversation with a colleague you mentioned your vacation last year in Las Vegas. All of a sudden he starts ranting about Area 51 — Vegas is only a few hours away, right? Did you see any lights in the sky? Any military vehicles heading north? You should stay at the Little A’Le’Inn motel like he has six times. You’ll see some funny stuff there.

You’d probably back away slowly, smiling, wishing him a nice day…

[much later] …One crazy person is a coincidence. Two are a trend…What’s more, if you go by what they write, these folks are utterly clueless about what modern ID proponents actually argue. [my emphasis]

The evidence that these authors are crazy and clueless? The New Scientist‘s assertion that the bacterial flagellum is

Loved by creationists, who falsely think they are examples of “intelligent design”

and that of Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News that

[T]he bacterial flagellum has been at the center of the thinly veiled creationism movement called intelligent design. Subscribers to this belief system have erroneously postulated that the flagellar motor system is “irreducibly complex” and could not have come about through Darwinian evolutionary mechanisms….It is doubtful these findings will sway the opinion of its detractors, yet they do make it extremely more difficult for them to make their case.

Seriously, that is the sum total of the evidence that these authors are ‘crazy’ and ‘clueless’ on the order of UFO true believers. A bit hyperbolic, I think. But where did these clueless authors get their crazy idea to associate the bacterial flagellum with intelligent design?

Certainly not from Casey Luskin, “Research Coordinator” of the Discovery Institute until last year:

In discussions of ID, the most famous example of a molecular machine is the bacterial flagellum. [ENV August 27, 2015]

Actually ID proponents haven’t abandoned arguing for the irreducible complexity of the flagellum because, as we’ve seen, it was never refuted in the first place. [ENV July 22, 2015]

The same goes for the bacterial flagellum. It has a complex pattern that existed before we observed it, and it matches many aspects of designed systems. It has high CSI [complex specified information], but carries no semantic information. [ENV November 24, 2015]

So the evidence strongly suggests that the injectisome (or something like it) did not predate the flagellum, and thus can’t help explain how the flagellum evolved. [ENV July 20, 2015]

First of all, it’s not the case that all “individual components” of the flagellum have been found elsewhere. But even if they had, that would not necessarily mean that the motor is “reducible” and “not ‘irreducibly complex.'” [ENV July 17, 2015]

The point here is that there’s a lot more to a flagellum than a T3SS plus “only one or two additional proteins related to the filament.” In fact, what the flagellum requires is a whole suite of proteins specifically related to the motor apparatus of the flagellum and the various components that transmit its spinning motion to the filament, and the filament itself. All of these lack counterparts in the injectisome’s T3SS. [ENV August 3, 2015]

Not from Discovery Institute fellow Scott Minnich:

…we know when we find irreducible — irreducibly complex systems or information storage and processing systems, from our own experience of cause and effect, that there is an intelligence associated with it. And so, it is logical to assume, when we find these systems in a cell, if we can — if the flagellum is irreducibly complex, then, yes, there’s an intelligence behind it.

And certainly not from Dr. Behe himself.


  1. moarscienceplz says

    Behe’s bete noir is that he demands to be considered a Serious Scientist™, despite his utter failure to offer any kind of rigorous evidence to support his pet hypothesis. Even in the close of his latest whine, all he can say is this:

    It matters only whether the unabashedly purposeful structures can be seriously explained — in real scientific detail — as the result of unintelligent processes, as Darwinists have so far spectacularly failed to do, or whether intelligence was required to make them.

    So, he tries to place the onus of disproving ID on all the real biologists in the world rather than working himself to support it, and anyone who finds that a laughable proposition Behe then tries to dismiss as a crank on the level of a UFOlogist. So Behe’s response boils down to, “Neener, neener. I’m rubber and you’re glue.”
    EXACTLY like a Serious Scientist™ would! *eyeroll*

  2. Crimson Clupeidae says

    One could also read the rather entertaining transcripts from the Dover trial in 2005 where Behe was demolished.

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