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Response to Barbara Forrest’s Kitzmiller Account Part IX: The Kitzmiller Double-Standard for ID and Evolution on Peer-Review

[Editor’s Note: A single article combining all ten installments of this response to Barbara Forrest can be found here, at “Response to Barbara Forrest’s Kitzmiller Account.” The individual installments may be seen here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10.]

In her Kitzmiller account, Barbara Forrest writes that leading ID proponents have “blustering cowardice … who must capture support with brazen deceit and sarcastic punditry.” Ironically, she later attacks Discovery Institute’s critique of the Kitzmiller ruling, claiming it had “nastiness.” In response to her inconsistent argument, Dr. Forrest would likely respond that her attacks are justified based upon the evidence she presents in her article. (I’m not conceding that her ad hominem attacks are justified, I’m just describing how she would respond.) Yet our simple claim that Judge Jones got some important facts wrong in the ruling is not just an assertion we’ve invented because we have something against Judge Jones. It’s based upon careful analysis of the facts as they were stated in the opinion. I’ve already discussed one example in this series responding to Barbara Forrest. This post will discuss the misrepresentation that ID “has not generated peer-reviewed publications” (page 64 of online version) by looking at two examples of pro-ID peer-reviewed scientific papers that were discussed at trial.

Stephen C. Meyer’s Paper
Dr. Forrest testified that she “did a key word and subject searches for peer reviewed articles in science journals using intelligent design as a biological theory” and “found nothing.” (Day 6 pm testimony, pgs. 32-33) Perhaps that’s true, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be the complete story because she later conceded that there were peer-reviewed papers arguing for intelligent design–namely, Stephen Meyer’s article. (For a good discussion of the Darwinist response to Meyer’s paper, see “The Stricture of Scientific Resolutions” by Mark Hartwig.) But she dismissed Stephen

Meyer’s peer-reviewed paper in Proceedings for the Biological Society of Washington because it supposedly “contains no new data” and it’s a “review essay.”

Judge Jones was actually presented with a number of papers which support intelligent design during the trial. Discovery Institute submitted an amicus brief which was accepted by Judge Jones listing some peer-reviewed papers, including Meyer’s. But the evidence was also directly in the testimonial record, through the testimony of Scott Minnich, who testified about various pro-ID peer-reviewed papers:

I think yesterday there was, as I mentioned, there were around, between, I don’t know, seven and ten. I don’t have the specific ones. But Dr. Axe published one or two papers in the journal Biological Chemistry that were specifically addressing concepts within intelligent design. Mike Behe had one. Steve Meyer has had one. So, you know, I think the argument that you’re not publishing in peer reviewed literature was valid. Now there are a couple out there. How many do we have to publish before it is in the literature and being evaluated? I mean, do we have to have 25? 50? I mean, give me a number.

(Minnich Testimony, Day 21, AM, pg. 34)

If Judge Jones knew about Meyer’s peer-reviewed pro-ID article, why did he make absolutely no mention of the paper in the ruling, but instead made explicit findings which implied it doesn’t exist? Is it because it was a “review essay” as Forrest says? Judge Jones accepted a review article offered by the plaintiffs entitled “The Origin of New Genes: Glimpses From the Young and Old” (by Manyuan Long, et al., Nature Reviews Genetics (4):865-875 (Nov., 2003)),” claiming that it provided peer-reviewed evidence for “the origin of new genetic information by evolutionary processes.” (page 86 of online version) Either Judge Jones applied a double-standard to pro-ID vs. pro-evolution papers as regards peer-review, or he wrongly ignored Meyer’s paper.

Michael Behe and David Snoke’s Protein Science Paper
Michael Behe also testified about his peer-reviewed article with David Snoke in Protein Science. At least here Judge Jones did not ignore this paper completely, but he dismissed it as irrelevant in a footnote because he said it “does not mention either irreducible complexity or ID.” (page 88 of online version)

Yet Behe and Snoke’s paper clearly does bear on the topic of the origin of irreducible complexity in protein-protein interactions. Again, a double-standard comes into play: Judge Jones claimed that the aforementioned review paper entitled “The Origin of New Genes: Glimpses From the Young and Old” accounted for “the origin of new genetic information by evolutionary processes” in a peer-reviewed scientific publication. Yet the body of Long et al.’s review article does not even contain the word “information,” much less the phrase “new genetic information.” The word “information” appears once in the entire article–in the title of reference #103.

The lack of the phrases “irreducible complexity” or “ID” in Behe’s paper does not mean the peer-reviewed paper does not clearly support ID arguments, just like the lack of the phrase “new genetic information” or the word “information” in Long et al.’s review paper does not mean it doesn’t try to address how new genetic information evolves. Once again, it seems Judge Jones applied a double-standard to pro-evolution vs. pro-ID papers as regards peer-review, and he misstated the facts on this matter.

[This post was edited immediately after posting for clarity.]


Casey Luskin

Associate Director, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.