How Kenneth Miller Used Smoke-and-Mirrors to Misrepresent Michael Behe on the Irreducible Complexity of the Blood-Clotting Cascade (Part 3) - Evolution News & Views

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How Kenneth Miller Used Smoke-and-Mirrors to Misrepresent Michael Behe on the Irreducible Complexity of the Blood-Clotting Cascade (Part 3)

In Part 1, I showed how Ken Miller purported to refute Michael Behe's arguments about the irreducible complexity of the blood-clotting cascade, but actually badly misrepresented Behe's arguments to Judge Jones. In short, the purported knockout experiments (in the form comparative biochemistry) that Ken Miller cited to Judge Jones, where the blood-clotting cascade still worked in the absence of certain factors, dealt entirely with factors that Behe specifically did not claim were part of the irreducibly complex core of the blood-clotting cascade. Behe explained this problem in Miller's argument to Judge Jones, but apparently Behe's testimony fell on deaf ears. In Part 2, I discussed how Miller might not have even refuted the more expansive arguments for irreducible complexity of the blood-clotting cascade made in the textbook Of Pandas and People, since his argument is based upon a logical leap that was not confirmed by experimental data. To analogize Miller's error, he effectively argued that a bike doesn't need both its wheels because unicycles function with only one wheel, but Miller never actually cited any tests on a bike showing you can ride a bike that's missing a wheel.

In light of those problems with Miller's testimony, consider the patent falsity of Judge Jones' claim that "scientists in peer-reviewed publications have refuted Professor Behe's predication about the alleged irreducible complexity of the blood-clotting cascade":

[W]ith regard to the blood-clotting cascade, Dr. Miller demonstrated that the alleged irreducible complexity of the bloodclotting cascade has been disproven by peer-reviewed studies dating back to 1969, which show that dolphins' and whales' blood clots despite missing a part of the cascade, a study that was confirmed by molecular testing in 1998. (1:122--29 (Miller); P--854.17--854.22). Additionally and more recently, scientists published studies showing that in puffer fish, blood clots despite the cascade missing not only one, but three parts. (1:128--29 (Miller)). Accordingly, scientists in peer-reviewed publications have refuted Professor Behe's predication about the alleged irreducible complexity of the blood-clotting cascade.

(Judge John E. Jones III, Kitzmiller v. Dover, 400 F.Supp.2d 707, 740 (M.D.Pa 2005).)

As the foregoing discussions in Part 1 and Part 2 made clear, Judge Jones' assertion was simply wrong. This gives us further reason for understanding why federal judges should not become the arbiters of complex scientific questions about biological origins. Yet perhaps Judge Jones does not deserve the final blame for this mistake. After all, he simply copied this section dealing with blood clotting from the Kitzmiller plaintiffs' "Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law," as seen in the table below:

Judge Jones' Kitzmiller ruling
Kitzmiller Plaintiffs' Proposed "Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law"
Dr. Miller demonstrated that the alleged irreducible complexity of the blood-clotting cascade has been disproven by peer-reviewed studies dating back to 1969, which show that dolphins' and whales' blood clots despite missing a part of the cascade, a study that was confirmed by molecular testing in 1998. (1:122-29 (Miller); P-854.17-854.22). Additionally and more recently, scientists published studies showing that in puffer fish, blood clots despite the cascade missing not only one, but three parts. (1:128-29 (Miller)). Accordingly, scientists in peer-reviewed publications have refuted Professor Behe's predication about the alleged irreducible complexity of the blood-clotting cascade.Dr. Miller demonstrated that the alleged irreducible complexity of the blood-clotting cascade has been disproven by peer-reviewed studies going back to 1969, which showed that dolphins' and whales' blood clots despite missing a part of the cascade, a study that was confirmed by molecular testing in 1998. 1: 122-29; P854.17-854.22. More recently, scientists published studies showing that in puffer fish, blood clots despite the cascade missing not only one, but three parts. 1: 128-29. In sum, scientists in peer-reviewed publications have refuted Behe's prediction about the alleged irreducible complexity of the blood-clotting cascade.

While Judge Jones' copying was not improper as far as judicial ethics are concerned, the trivial non-substantive stylistic differences (italicized in the table above) between his ruling's inaccurate treatment of blood clotting and the plaintiffs' brief would make even a cheating high school student blush: "going back" becomes "dating back"; "More recently" becomes "Additionally and more recently"; "In sum" becomes "Accordingly." And we're left wondering, did Judge Jones intentionally take a subtle jab at Behe by changing "Behe's prediction" to "Behe's predication" ("predication" can mean "an act ... of preaching")?

Of course, this isn't the end of the story because Judge Jones copied over 90% of his section on whether ID is science in a verbatim or near-verbatim fashion from this ACLU brief. How much else did he get wrong? According to published analyses, an awful lot.


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