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Dawkins, Behe, and TIME’s 100 May 10, 2007

Posted by Tim in Literary, Science/Tech, Thoughts, World.

I usually read TIME in the library now (it’s $), but their recent edition of the annual Time 100 (Most Influential People in the World) is worth a look.

Slightly US-centric, I don’t agree with some of the names there, and have to admit I know less than half of the names anyway. The interesting thing about TIME‘s 100 is how the list pairs the subjects with the authors. Oprah Winfrey’s entry is written by Nelson Mandela. The article on businessman-turned-philanthrophist Warren Buffet is penned by Melinda Gates. Michael J. Fox authors the section on Douglas Melton, the co-director of the Havard Stem Cell institute. The legendary professional gamer Jonathan Wendel aka Fatal1ty honours legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto of Nintendo.

But by far the most interesting pairing for me had to be the piece on Richard Dawkins, the outspoken evolutionist who pioneered the concept of extended phenotypes. The author paired to him? Michael Behe, a leading intelligent design advocate who coined the term “irreducible complexity”. This shocked me enough to immediately buy the issue.

Some online digging brings up Behe’s original, unedited article. He seems miffed at the sections they cut out, though I can’t see that the core of his essay changed any.

What’s baffling is that he is unhappy with TIME for rephrasing his sentences, e.g.: “the Bible advises us [to be hot or cold but not lukewarm]” .

What he first wrote was “Someone once advised us [to be either hot or cold, but not lukewarm.]”

The irony is: wasn’t this precisely what was wrong with intelligent design?



1. Jason - May 20, 2007

The pairing of Dawkins with Behe really struck me too. Behe no longer has any merit whatsoever to be placed opposite Dawkins in the “larger debate” — like there is one. Kenneth Miller has effectively leveled any argument for irreducible complexity in Kitzmiller v. Dover and made Behe look like an idiot.

I am so glad to find this response by Michael R. Freeman, Ph.D. (Harvard Medical School) in the Inbox of the May 28th issue of Time:

As a long-term subscriber, I was deeply disappointed that you chose creationist Michael Behe to write the piece on biologist Richard Dawkins. Dawkins is a prominent and well-respected scientist and a highly successful science educator for the lay audience. In marked contrast, Behe’s writings and public appearances have damaged science education and practice in this country. Of all of the distinguished scientists and writers TIME might have chosen to describe Dawkins and his work, it is astonishing that your magazine settled on Behe. This terrible error of judgment is indicative of either inexcusable ignorance about the state of modern science or a deliberate willingness to help perpetuate the mythology that the theory of evolution is a controversy rather than a fact comparable to the theory of gravity.

2. Tim - May 20, 2007

Ah, thanks for the update. Haven’t found the time to read this week’s issue.

3. Ikenna - November 7, 2007

if one wants to talk about a mismatch how about Ricahrds Dawkins reviewing Behe recent book “On the Edge of Evolution” in the New York time book review.
Behe and other proponets of intelligent design have done a lot in the light of a theory of evolution that still has a lot of explaining to do.

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