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Monday, February 27, 2006

The Discovery Institute sneaking into journals, Part I
As promised I've been looking into how big the problem is of the DI sneaking BS abstracts into real scientific journals. Fortunately for us, the problem so far is not very extensive. I found a total of 4 citations that can be described as inappropriate additions to the literature through various searches through Thomson and Pubmed (aside from the 2 abstracts we previously discovered Wells snuck into the summer and winter meetings). This brings the damage to 6 abstracts/articles.

The remaining 4 are:

Author(s): Wells, J
Title: Do centrioles generate a polar ejection force?

(Note that this abstract is a duplicate of the one he submitted to the ASCB, that's an ethical no-no if you ask me, even if he cites this paper in the abstract)

Author(s): Nelson, PA; Ross, MR
Title: Problems with characterizing the protostome-deuterostome ancestor.
Source: DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY, 271 (2): 601-601 254 JUL 15 2004
(*snore* This abstract has never been cited again of course)

Since Darwin's time, the origins and relationships of bilaterian animals have remained unsolved problems in historical biology (Conway Morris, 2000). One of the central difficulties is characterizing the common ancestor of the protostomes and deuterostomes. We argue that an unresolved conceptual puzzle has plagued the many attempts to describe this Urbilaterian, or, in Erwin and Davidson's (2002) terminology, the protostomedeuterostome ancestor (PDA). Any organism sophisticated enough to be a realistic candidate for the PDA, with such characters as an anterior-posterior axis, gut, and sensory organs, must itself have been constructed by a developmental process, or by what we term an ontogenetic network (Nelson and Ross, 2003). But the more biologically plausible the PDA becomes, as a functioning organism within a population of other such organisms, the more it will tend to ''pull'' (in its characters) toward one or another of the known bilaterian groups. As this happens, and the organism loses its descriptive generality, it will cease to be a good candidate Urbilaterian.

Author(s): Wells, J; Nelson, PA
Title: Recovering the classical tradition in comparative embryology.
Source: DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY, 247 (2): 18 JUL 15 2002
(A nit-picking abstract suggesting we use the discredited Haeckels embryos to discredit developmental biology even though Haeckel's work has been discredited for a decade or more and he wasn't a Darwinist but a Lamarckian! Talk about beating a dead (or discredited) horse)

It is an irony of the history of comparative embryology that the flawed diagrams of Ernst Haeckel ever came to be widely adopted in biology textbooks, when historians of science such as Jane Oppenheimer knew that the diagrams were flawed and said as much in their publications. The irony deepens, however, when one considers that in 1894-over a century before the work of Michael Richardson and his colleagues reawakened interest in the problem-the embryologist Adam Sedgwick had warned that
Haeckel's representations were inaccurate at best. We argue that fresh attention should be given to what E. S. Russell in 1916 called the 'classical tradition' of comparative embryology-i.e., to such workers as Sedgwick, W. His, and O. Hertwig-to help redress long-standing imbalances in interpreting and understanding the patterns of developmental biology. There is much to be learned from these workers that is of great relevance today.

Author(s): Wells, J
Title: Second thoughts about peppered moths (as usual a nit-picking essay on a discredited example of evolution maybe not discredited example of evolution -- thanks Ricardo).
Source: SCIENTIST, 13 (11): 13-13 MAY 24 1999

Every student of biological evolution learns about peppered moths. During the Industrial Revolution, dark ("melanic") forms of this moth, Biston betularia, became much more common than light ("typical") forms, though the proportion of melanics declined after the passage of pollution-control legislation. When experiments in the 1950s pointed to cryptic coloration and differential bird predation as its cause, "industrial melanism" became the classical story of evolution by natural selection. Subsequent research, however, has revealed major flaws in the classical story. It's time to take another look.

So, the DI has succeeded in infiltrating three journals of note, Molecular Biology of the Cell, Developmental Biology and the Science-News magazine The Scientist. Hopefully we can raise awareness of this group's bullshit so scientific journals know better than to propagate their willful ignorance.


Another Anonymous Poster said...

There are a couple of Behe ones that are a bit suspect, but not as glaringly obvious as those from Wells. I'll try and re-PubMed him later today, but it's pretty clear if you just look up "Behe M"

9:01 AM, February 28, 2006

Ricardo Azevedo said...

Just a small correction. Haeckel was only a Lamarckian in the sense that Darwin was one too -- at the time everyone believed in the inheritance of acquired characters. Haeckel definitely considered himself a disciple of Darwin, and made important contributions to evolutionary biology. It's too bad about those badly drawn embryos -- although I would not take any lessons from the DI people on matters of scientific misconduct.

10:21 AM, February 28, 2006

Ricardo Azevedo said...

I would also not take Wells' word on the peppered moth story. Check out someone who actually knows what he's talking about here.

10:24 AM, February 28, 2006

Rev. Dr. said...

I haven't kept up with the moth story a great deal. I just remember back in college almost a decade ago being taught the moth story in biology, and at the same time some professors were saying it was a good teaching tool but the results were now suspect. That outlook has just stuck in my mind.

So, if it's come back into the light of scientific acceptance, great, if not, I'm not too upset either. It's not the most important example of evolution, just one that on its surface is really obvious, thus good for teaching.

11:45 AM, February 28, 2006

jre said...

Here's a self-referential comment:

"Knit-picking" should be "nit-picking."

12:37 PM, February 28, 2006

Anonymous said...

Haeckel gets an undeservedly bad press. He was a racist, like many biologists of his time, and his enthusiasm for pattern led him to exaggerate the similarities between embryos, just as it led him to exaggerate the beauty and symmetry of the organisms he drew in Artforms of Nature. But his basic insight, that related animals develop in homologous ways, and that careful study of embryos shows this, is one of the foundations of evolutionary developmental biology. He also named and popularised the concept of protists, as distinct from animals and plants.

1:10 PM, February 28, 2006

inky said...

Is it nit-picking to comment that it's not "knitpicking"?
Yes, yes it is. Even so ...

1:19 PM, February 28, 2006

Anonymous said...

the point here is, that even with these few abs/papers, the percentage of papers actually bearing on a predictive alternative to evolution is vanishingly small, and certainly indistinguishable from zero. This, and only this, is the reason that ID/creationsism has no science cred.

3:23 PM, March 01, 2006

Anonymous said...

Here's a bit in Natural History magazine, 2002:

4:09 PM, March 01, 2006

Rev. Dr. said...

I found those Natural History citations in my searches (I didn't include them since the journal celarly understood the positions came from creationists) and they really are incredibly interesting little essays. Specifically, the scientists' essay's are side-by-side with the IDers, and their essays simply destroy the creationist arguments. It is like shooting fish in a barrel.

Good link anon.

1:16 AM, March 02, 2006


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