Rhetorical tactics: the Behe Blunder

Wesley R. Elsberry of Austringer makes some very good points about the ways in which creationists and IDists avoid actually respond to real-world evidence. I expanded on one of his ways, which I’ve named the Dembski Dodge.

However, Wesley omits the Behe Blunder: get the science wrong and use that as a basis for argument. In perhaps his worst stumble, Behe declares that the evolution of the eukaryotic cilium or flagellum is irreducibly complex and that those structures are assembled by an irreducibly complex multi-protein system known as intraflagellar transport, which he touts as irreducible complexity squared! But Behe gets it wrong.

As Nick Matzke points out,

Nick MatzkeThe huge problem with Behe’s invocation of intraflagellar transport in his “IRREDUCIBLE COMPLEXITY SQUARED” section of chapter 5 is that he is completely wrong when he says that intraflagellar transport is universally required for cilium construction! Anyone can see this by reading this 2004 paper by Briggs et al. in Current Biology, which they cleverly entitled “More than one way to build a flagellum,” presumably so that people would find out that there is…wait for it…more than one way to build a flagellum….

One of the parasitic apicomplexans completely lacks the IFT genes…yet makes a cilium anyway! … Behe would have known all this if he had only carefully read the Jekely and Arendt (2006) cilium evolution paper that he dismissed with a hand wave…. it really doesn’t help the “irreducible complexity” argument much if Behe’s favorite system, the eukaryotic cilium, and the extra-favorite “irreducible complexity squared” system, intraflagellar transport, on which he bases a whole chapter, is in fact entirely reducible…. A great deal of creationism/ID boils down to sloppy claims made on insufficient information, plus wishful thinking that blocks the impulse to double-check one’s claims…

Which apicomplexan critter is it that builds cilia despite Behe’s declaration that “a functioning cilium requires a working IFT”? Why, it’s Plasmodium falciparum, aka malaria, aka Behe’s own biggest running example used throughout The Edge of Evolution.

Nick Matzke’s entire article, “Of cilia and silliness,” is well worth reading.

LOL Michael Behe:

–from Lou FCD

To read more about Behe’s blunders, read these:


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