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Whatever You Do, Don’t Say “Irreducible Complexity”

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While browsing through the articles forthcoming in the Journal of Molecular Evolution, we ran across the following sentence:

Since the subject of cellular emergence of life is unusually complicated (we avoid the term ‘complex’ because of its association with ‘biocomplexity’ or ‘irreducible complexity’), it is unlikely that any overall theory of life’s nature, emergence, and evolution can be fully formulated, quantified, and experimentally investigated.

Shhh! Don’t say…well, just don’t say THAT word. You know the one. The “c” word…ending in “x.” Because people might think of…you know. The irreducible thing and that pest Michael Behe.

What are you doing — you said his name! Don’t do that!

Oh, and isn’t BIO-Complexity the title of a peer-reviewed science journal open to examining ideas supportive of intelligent design? Yes. In that case, whatever you do, don’t say “biocomplexity,” either!

Say “complicated” instead. “Rather complicated.” That’s better. Fewer of those nasty associations.

Alas, trying desperately to avoid discussing a topic by policing your language or thought only calls attention psychologically to the very topic one seeks to avoid. The phenomenon is called the “white bear problem.”

An example might be Victorian ladies covering piano legs with skirts, although we understand that that’s only an urban legend. The sentence above, however? All too real; from here.

Evolution News

Evolution News & Science Today (EN) provides original reporting and analysis about evolution, neuroscience, bioethics, intelligent design and other science-related issues, including breaking news about scientific research. It also covers the impact of science on culture and conflicts over free speech and academic freedom in science. Finally, it fact-checks and critiques media coverage of scientific issues.