« Andrew Samwick Says: Don't Linger in this CAFE | Main | Bob Hall at the Federal Reserve's Jackson Hole Conference »

August 30, 2005

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (New York Times/Kenneth Chang Edition)

Kenneth Chang digs himself deeper into his hole. He defends himself against the charge that the "there's a fight!" headline and the "Intelligent Design people make serious arguments" lead of his "Intelligent Design" article are misleading and unprofessional:

Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Kenneth Chang Edition): Chang: "I don't think anyone reading just the first eight paragraphs [of the article] would come to that conclusion" that there was "'a raging scientific controversy' or 'The New York Times blesses intelligent design'," but anyone who was only interested enough to read eight paragraphs probably wasn't going to be swayed one way or the other no matter what I wrote."...

Once again, here is the lead:

In Explaining Life's Complexity, Darwinists and Doubters Clash: At the heart of the debate over intelligent design is this question: Can a scientific explanation of the history of life include the actions of an unseen higher being? The proponents of intelligent design, a school of thought that some have argued should be taught alongside evolution in the nation's schools, say that the complexity and diversity of life go beyond what evolution can explain. Biological marvels like the optical precision of an eye, the little spinning motors that propel bacteria and the cascade of proteins that cause blood to clot, they say, point to the hand of a higher being at work in the world.

In one often-cited argument, Michael J. Behe, a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University and a leading design theorist, compares complex biological phenomena like blood clotting to a mousetrap: Take away any one piece - the spring, the baseboard, the metal piece that snags the mouse - and the mousetrap stops being able to catch mice. Similarly, Dr. Behe argues, if any one of the more than 20 proteins involved in blood clotting is missing or deficient, as happens in hemophilia, for instance, clots will not form properly.

Such all-or-none systems, Dr. Behe and other design proponents say, could not have arisen through the incremental changes that evolution says allowed life to progress to the big brains and the sophisticated abilities of humans from primitive bacteria. These complex systems are "always associated with design," Dr. Behe, the author of the 1996 book "Darwin's Black Box," said in an interview. "We find such systems in biology, and since we know of no other way that these things can be produced, Darwinian claims notwithstanding, then we are rational to conclude they were indeed designed."...

As a number of people have noted, the ID-side Discovery Institute is happy with Chang's article; the assembled biologists of the world are not.

Posted by DeLong at August 30, 2005 03:16 PM