More About the Behe Talk

Michael Behe gave a talk at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, as mentioned in a previous post here. The news report had this very interesting snippet, where Behe expounds on the standard he holds others to in doing research. Behe was discussing Judge John E. Jones III and his 2005 decision in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case, and is credulously believing the DI’s subjective text analysis.

“It wasn’t the judge’s opinion. He showed no independent thought,” Behe added. “If you want to understand this (the debate about evolution), you can’t rely on somebody else, you’ve got to look at it yourself and come to your own conclusion.”

Emphasis added.

Let’s zip back to 2005, when Michael Behe was on the witness stand, under oath, and being thoroughly impeached by Pepper Hamilton attorney Eric Rothschild. Behe’s own methods of coming to a conclusion about a topic were themselves the subject of interest, and Behe seemed to be singing a different tune when it was his own behavior that was on the line:

[164]Q. And here we’ve got chapter called “Evolution.” Then we’ve got Fundamental Immunology, a chapter on the evolution of the immune system.

[165]A lot of writing, huh?

[166]A. Well, these books do seem to have the titles that you said, and I’m sure they have the chapters in them that you mentioned as well, but again I am quite skeptical, although I haven’t read them, that in fact they present detailed rigorous models for the evolution of the immune system by random mutation and natural selection.

[167]Q. You haven’t read those chapters?

[168]A. No, I haven’t.

[169]Q. You haven’t read the books that I gave you?

[170]A. No, I haven’t. I have read those papers that I presented though yesterday on the immune system.

[171]Q. And the fifty-eight articles, some yes, some no?

[172]A. Well, the nice thing about science is that often times when you read the latest articles, or a sampling of the latest articles, they certainly include earlier results. So you get up to speed pretty quickly. You don’t have to go back and read every article on a particular topic for the last fifty years or so.

So Michael Behe’s conclusions should be considered golden, even though it turned out that his “search” was on a very particular turn of phrasing and he only “sampled” some recent publications in any case, relying entirely upon those few people whose work he skimmed, and not bothering to inquire of them whether they agreed with his interpretations. But Judge Jones, having listened closely to the testimony of experts and having the benefit of extensive cross-examination on the very points in contention, can’t be credited with having come to his own conclusion legitimately. Behe, and pretty much everybody else at the Discovery Institute, can’t seem to understand, or perhaps can’t bring themselves to admit, that a judge utilizes proposed findings of fact and law only when the advocates have made their case in the courtroom. The conclusion is not held simply because it appears in the proposed findings, but because the evidence and testimony provide the justification for coming to that conclusion.

Does Michael Behe deploy a consistent standard for depth of research in coming to a conclusion?

I don’t think so.

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Data scientist in real estate and econometrics. Blogger. Speaker. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.