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The Art of Literature Bluffing

In a UD post below, Salvador comments on Ken Miller and his reference to a paper in Science. Ken is a master of the art of literature bluffing, and you’ll be seeing a lot of this from Darwinists concerning Behe’s The Edge Of Evolution. It works like this: Claim that “such and so has been conclusively refuted…” or “the author ignores research that has demonstrated…” or “this issue was addressed and resolved long ago…” and then cite a publication.

Those using this tactic know that very few people will actually check out the references. However, in cases like that of hostile reviews of Behe’s new book, it would be wise to do so. You will most likely discover that the “refutations, demonstrations and resolutions” are nothing of the kind, but are fanciful storytelling, speculation, misrepresentation, or wildly imaginative extrapolation from the trivially obvious.

Behe, on his Amazon blog, makes the following comments concerning Sean Carroll’s review of The Edge:

In fact, if one takes the trouble to look up the references Carroll cites, one sees that a short amino acid motif is not enough for function in a cell.

[...]

…Carroll seems unable to separate Darwinian theory from data. He writes that “what [Behe] alleges to be beyond the limits of Darwinian evolution falls well within its demonstrated [my emphasis] powers”, and “Indeed, it has been demonstrated [my emphasis] that new protein interactions (10) and protein networks (11) can evolve fairly rapidly and are thus well within the limits of evolution.”

Yet if one looks up the papers he cites, one finds no “demonstration” at all.

It should be an illuminating enterprise to track down all the literature bluffs in upcoming reviews of Behe’s new book. What this will demonstrate is that Darwinists are desperate to discredit Behe by any means available. Alas, these critics appear to have no choice in the matter, because Behe is right and they are wrong. The facts and data speak for themselves.

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47 Responses to The Art of Literature Bluffing

  1. Thanks Gil,

    I catalogued some of the most clever examples of literature bluffs and unwholesome rhetorical tricks here:

    Becoming a Jedi Master in the online ID Wars

  2. As a writing teacher and a rhetoric scholar, I might suggest that this post exhibits the very bluffing it critiques. Consider:

    Alas, these critics appear to have no choice in the matter, because Behe is right and they are wrong. The facts and data speak for themselves.

    No, the fact never speak for themselves. That’s why scientists write papers.

    Also, a little symmetrical evaluation of who’s bluffing and who’s puffing would be good. Consider looking for a puffery-indicating phrase like, say, “death throes” on this site using a simple google search.

    Nope, no puffery here.

  3. “You will most likely discover that the “refutations, demonstrations and resolutions” are nothing of the kind, but are fanciful storytelling, speculation, misrepresentation, or wildly imaginative extrapolation from the trivially obvious.”

    That’s all we ever see these days! Yet it is ubiquitously copy/pasted from one Darwinist to the next – a genuine meme if ever there was one.

  4. /pasted from one Darwinist to the next

    Just like Judge Jones in Dover.

  5. Thanks for the link to Behe’s Amazon blog. I wasn’t aware that was posted. He has replies to Sean, Coyne, and Ruse in that blog. His replies are very good although he doesn’t delve into much detail.

    It appears the critics are all attempting to side step the issues Behe raises instead of addressing them head on.

  6. Heramgoras,

    I really enjoyed your post.

    As a writing teacher and a rhetoric scholar, I might suggest that this post exhibits the very bluffing it critiques.

    LOL! The post is not about “bluffing” it is about “literature bluffing.” My guess is that you are a high school English teacher and do not know what “literature bluffing” is. You probably think it is when people bluff in literature.

    Consider:

    Alas, these critics appear to have no choice in the matter, because Behe is right and they are wrong. The facts and data speak for themselves.

    No, the fact never speak for themselves. That’s why scientists write papers.

    Ho ho! Have you never heard the phrase res ipsa loquitur? At any rate, a figure of speech is not the same as a bluff much less a literature bluff.

    Also, a little symmetrical evaluation of who’s bluffing and who’s puffing would be good. Consider looking for a puffery-indicating phrase like, say, “death throes” on this site using a simple google search.

    Nope, no puffery here.

    LOL! Once again a colorful adjective has nothing to do with the concept of a literature bluff.

  7. Jehu,

    I’m a Ph.D.-holding college writing teacher, the director of a university writing program, and a published scholar in the rhetoric of science. The term “literature bluffing” was invented, as far as I can tell, by the Discovery Institute here. It is not found in rhetoric generally or the rhetoric of science specifically.

    I apologize for not being well versed in the charming argot of the Discovery Institute. I had assumed it was something GilDodgen invented. Not quite: the fact remains, however, that the term “literature bluff” was invented, and is used, almost exclusively by the ID community.

  8. What worked for the Darwinists in the pre-World-Wide-Web era will not work so well today. It was a piece of cake to show Miller was bluffing (check that, he was comprehensionally challenged).

    In the past, one could simply pull these theatrical stunts, and count on the fact most counter attacks would fail since it would take 6 months to get the subscriptions and papers through proper channels, and most would not be able to launch the counter attack in a timely manner, when it would have the most effect.

    Nowadays, with the net, it isn’t as easy to pull off, and it can be embarrassing to the perpetrator to be exposed in a matter of hours after his hoax is published in a major scientific journal (like what happened with honest Ken Miller in his screed against Behe).

    Bill Dembski foresaw this in : Darwinism, Myth of Victory Past

    (3) The myth of victory past. A scene in the Marx Brothers movie Duck Soup illustrates this myth.

    Groucho Marx, president of Freedonia, presides over a meeting of the cabinet. The following exchange ensues between Groucho and one of Freedonia’s ministers:

    Groucho: “And now, members of the Cabinet, we’ll take up old business.”

    Minister: “I wish to discuss the Tariff!”

    Groucho: “Sit down, that’s new business! No old business? Very well—then we’ll
    take up new business”

    Minister: “Now about that Tariff…”

    Groucho: “Too late—that’s old business already!”

    This exchange epitomizes Darwinism’s handling of criticism. When a valid criticism of Darwinism is first proposed, it is dismissed without an adequate response, either on some technicality or with some irrelevancy or by simply being ignored. As time passes, people forget that Darwinists never adequately met the criticism. But Darwinism is still calling the shots. Since the criticism failed to dislodge Darwinism, the criticism
    itself must have been discredited or refuted somewhere. Thereafter the criticism becomes known as “that discredited criticism that was refuted a long time ago.” And, after that, even to raise the criticism betrays an outdated conception of evolutionary theory. In this way, the criticism, though entirely valid, simply vanishes into oblivion. (At least that’s
    how things have been in the past. That’s now changing with the internet

    Miller needs to cite obscure journals in other languages inaccessible to online readers. Otherwise, the relentless online community will have a field day with Miller’s bluffs…

  9. Hermagoras,

    Welcome to our weblog. I very much like rhetoric scholars and appreciate them.

    The term “literature bluff” follows a particular rhetorical form. Roughly it is:

    1. Make a strawman misrepresentation,

    2. Knock the strawman down by using something of the form: “it’s hard to fathom he did not even read this long list of article”

    3. Then list a whole bunch of articles, relevant or not, preferably in really obscure and tough to read technical jargon

    That is the form of a literature bluff. Thankfully, unlike math and physics, biology is a bit more accessible.

    regards,
    Salvador

  10. No, the fact never speak for themselves.

    Never? In many cases they certainly do, otherwise science in general would be on a very fragile footing. If you’ll read Behe’s book you’ll discover that this is one of those cases. Up until recently the creative powers of random processes and natural selection have been a matter of speculation. The data are in. I’m not attempting a bluff, literary or otherwise.

  11. The basic form is

    1. Make a strawman misrepresentation,

    2. Knock the strawman down by using something of the form: “it’s hard to fathom he did not even read….
    [a long list of articles]”

    3. Then list a whole bunch of articles, relevant or not, preferably in really obscure and tough to read technical jargon

    The straw man part involves lots of creativity, usually in the form of an Equivocation. I pointed out some beautiful examples by Shallit and Elsberry here: SSDD: Shallit and Elsberry’s Equivocations and Bluffs

    The took a variation on the classic equivocation :

    feather is light.
    What is light cannot be dark.
    Therefore, a feather cannot be dark.

    And applied it to the notion of the word “natural”.

    I highly encourage you to read my rhetorical analysis of Elsberry and Shallit. They create one of the most classic examples of literature bluffs I’ve ever seen. Ingenious and dastardly indeed.

  12. Jehu,

    Following on the previous. Let me explain what I meant when I wrote that the post exhibited the very thing it critiques. (As I pointed out, I was unaware of the ID community’s idiosyncratic use of the term “literature bluff.” I’m not sure why I should be expected to be aware of this.) Here’s what I meant. GilDodgen writes:

    It works like this: Claim that “such and so has been conclusively refuted…” or “the author ignores research that has demonstrated…” or “this issue was addressed and resolved long ago…” and then cite a publication.

    In the rhetoric of science (see Bruno Latour’s Science in Action), statements are characteristically modalized — that is, moved in the direction of fact or artifact by being nested in another statement in future papers. So Duesberg makes a claim (cancer evolves by chromosomal chaos rather than genetic mutation). Call this claim X. Someone else might write Duesberg has argued that X. That doesn’t do much to the claim. Someone else might move the claim in the direction of fact: Duesberg has shown that X. But someone else might say, Although Duesberg says X, really Y. And someone else might say Duesberg’s theory of X is a challenge to Darwinism. I might say Duesberg’s theory of X is probably wrong, and even if it’s right it’s not a challenge to Darwinism. And so forth. All of these sentences enact what Latour and others call positive and negative modalities on the claim X.

    Now, unfair modalities are propagated all the time. What Gil calls “literature bluffing” seems to be a kind of citation that moves a claim toward fact status without sufficient warrant. But then Gil goes on to claim that Behe is “right,” with the further claim that this is obvious because “the facts speak for themselves.” (That the facts do not speak for themselves, despite the use of res ipsa loquitor as a cultural commonplace, is a basic assumption of rhetoric.) As I saw it, Gil was talking about overclaiming from the evidence. But then he did precisely that, in dramatic fashion.

  13. Sal,

    Thanks for the links. Check out:

    http://www.discovery.org/scrip.....38;id=2228

    Literature bluffing is the indiscriminate citation of scientific papers and articles whose titles or abstracts may seem germane to the problem at hand, but which on careful reading prove not to settle the issue, or even not to have any relevance to it. Like a squid spewing out ink to confuse a pursuer, or a fighter jet dispensing chaff to deflect incoming missiles, a literature bluffer floods the discussion with citations to distract attention from the real issues.

    Bibliographic search engines such as PubMed make it easy for literature bluffers to compile long lists of citations. The literature bluffer, however, rarely explains the arguments or evidence contained in the publications on the list. That would defeat the bluffer’s purpose, which is not really to address the merits of the case, but rather to overwhelm the reader with the apparent weight of scientific authority. The reader is then left with the work of actually studying the publications and assessing their relevance.

  14. Gil,

    If the facts speak for themselves, why does Behe need to write a book-length argument to make their case? Whatever facts he cites, they do not speak for themselves; rather, Behe is their spokesman, their lawyer, their agent, their mouthpiece.

  15. I would have to say Elsberry and Shallit were the best as their bluffed articles are not very accessible. Sometimes they reference books that are nearly out of print and cost over $100.

    In contrast, Miller was so careless that he bluffed with citations that Behe has already publicly commented on (available for free online even) or even had mentioned excplicitly in his book! Miller didn’t connect the fact Behe’s mention of “A Requiem for Chloroquine” on page 45 was exactly the same as Miller’s “Science 298, 74–75; 2002″. They are the same article, but Behe uses the common title and Miller the formal reference.

    Miller furthermore accused Behe of not following an article Behe clearly commnented on. Miller refers to it as “Science 312, 97–101; 2006)” but Behe refers to it as ” Bridgham et al (2006) published in the April 7 issue of Science”. They are the same article, and Miller’s bait and switch is easily exposed.

    Then Miller compounds his faux pas by mis-citing volume 37 in 2005 when it was 2004. The net result is he looks like a bit of a bungler. Man, what an amateur. He used to be such a pro, but I guess he’s feeling so confident these days he thinks he can be this sloppy with his bluffs.

    Elsberry and Shallit are still king of the hill when it comes to disingenous bluffing. That had to be some of the most ingenious equivocations I’d ever seen. Their critique of Dembski is a masterful encyclopedia of unwholesome rhetorical gimmics couched in the language of math and science.

    Every critic of ID who has no inhibition about using unethical debate tactics should study the rhetorical form of Elsberry and Shallit and emulate it to the fullest.

  16. Bibliographic search engines such as PubMed make it easy for literature bluffers to compile long lists of citations. The literature bluffer, however, rarely explains the arguments or evidence contained in the publications on the list. That would defeat the bluffer’s purpose, which is not really to address the merits of the case, but rather to overwhelm the reader with the apparent weight of scientific authority. The reader is then left with the work of actually studying the publications and assessing their relevance.

    Exactly! What I learned however, is bluffing via materials not available online. When we deal with materials that require subscription or a book that is out of print or really expensive. It becomes cumbersome to combat the literature bluff.

    And honestly, how many are willing to spend the time and money? The critics count on the fact that you’ll read the entire book or article and realize it was irrelevant. But that is VERY HARD to demonstrate irrelevance. And by that time, the discussion is out of the public eye. They successfully used a stalling tactic to make a quick getaway from the debate….

    They can leave the audience with the illusion that maybe it was relevant and addressed the issue. After all the audience must take your word against theirs. Now, of course, in the case of Ken Miller and Sean Carrol, they so badly bungled the bluff, we didn’t even have to go through too much trouble. It was an amateurish bluff.

  17. scordova, I have read your post on equivocation and am unconvinced. For example, you criticize the term “naturally occuring” in the following claim: “there are many naturally-occurring tools available to build simple computational processes.” The tools in question are quantum mechanics and various features of biology and chemistry. The computational processes are designed, but the authors never said otherwise. Further, I think you’re wrong to focus on the subtitle “Natural Computing Series” in the citation. The point is that quantum mechanical phenomena, an natural “tool,” can be used to create a computational process. That’s all.

    There’s no equivocation along the lines of your feather example in the passage.

  18. Here is how that article you cite defines literature bluffing,

    Heramgoras,

    I’m a Ph.D.-holding college writing teacher, the director of a university writing program, and a published scholar in the rhetoric of science. The term “literature bluffing” was invented, as far as I can tell, by the Discovery Institute here. It is not found in rhetoric generally or the rhetoric of science specifically.

    Thank you for the etymology. Regardless of where the phrase comes from, the thing it defines is very real and was not invented by the DI.

    Here is how the article you cite defines literature bluffing.

    Literature bluffing is the indiscriminate citation of scientific papers and articles whose titles or abstracts may seem germane to the problem at hand, but which on careful reading prove not to settle the issue, or even not to have any relevance to it.

    Since Darwinists constantly rely on this cheap rhetorical trick, it doesn’t suprise me the term “literature bluff” is used mostly in the ID community.

  19. Hermagoras is no longer with us.

    A few years back I wrote a piece titled “Evolutionary Logic.” It is available here:

    http://www.designinference.com.....ologic.htm

    The arguments from obscrue, irrelevant, and nonexistent reference are relevant to this discussion.

  20. I find the most interesting thing about the literature bluffing or the obscure and irrelvant arguments that Darwinists use is what is the person thinking about when they do it. They must know what they are proposing is irrelevant or doesn’t really answer the question or is only meant to deflect from the real discussion.

    Is it just a parlor game to see who is the most clever? Do they really think we are that stupid? Or is a deeper feeling that what the person is opposing is so wrong that it will excuse anything that they do in the cause to rid the world or what they consider dangerous.

    I read some of the threads on ARN and it seems the main objective there is to put the other person down in any way possible as opposed to develop a dialog.

  21. Whenever I hear the term “literature bluff”, I’m reminded of a tactic used in the practice of law. If you want to bog down your opponent to buy time or increase their legal expenses, you send them the documents they have requested during discovery, but include with the important stuff boxes and boxes of marginally relevent documents so that the lawyers must waste time and money sifting through it all. Its about wearing out your opponent, not winning on the facts.

  22. Hermagoras is no longer with us.

    Bummer.

    The moderation policy says, in part:

    Thou shalt not be boring, and the person you least want to bore is me. In particular, I’ve been at this game for about fifteen years now, so I’ve seen most of the objections. Don’t repeat what I likely have already seen (for an overview of the sorts of objections I’ve seen and handled, consult my book The Design Revolution).

    I know I’ll likely get booted for saying it, but it seems more and more that only “me too” comments are permissible. The irony of course is that such homogeneous conversations are really not very interesting because they are by definition a repetition of that already seen.

    One thing that may be worth considering is the fact that most visitors to the site haven’t been at this for fifteen+ years, and that people like Hermagoras if allowed to stay and, yes, vent a little, might be exposed to arguments they won’t see anywhere else—least of all that the university he works for (assuming he is who he said he is).

    Yes, his tone was a little snide, but not more so than many ID supporters who routinely post here–even in the current thread. A notable counterexample was scordova, who responded with grace and apparently saw the situation as an opportunity to educate. Kudos to him.

    -sb

  23. The difficulty is that the debater might not realize error in his/her part at all. The other party doesn’t realizes irrelevance of the article cited, because she/he misunderstood the writers hypothesis or just so story in the article for actual data.

    I don’t think most of the Darwinists are actually lying on purpose they just lack the will to critically analyze the presuppositions and logic they are using. When they read an article about evolution the words supposedly, might etc. disappear and the hypothesis or the just so story becomes a fact in their minds. Wishful thinking of a worst sort. I think this is especially true if one has strong feelings for or against the subject.

  24. 24
    EndoplasmicMessenger

    what is the person thinking about when they do it

    They are thinking “survival of the cleverest”. There is no moral or ethical framework within their computation. The goal is to score points at whatever cost. The one with the most points wins. It’s as simple as that.

  25. Sal:

    Miller was so careless that he bluffed with citations that Behe has already publicly commented on (available for free online even) or even had mentioned excplicitly in his book!

    My bad. I said that Ken is a master of the art of literature bluffing. However, as you point out, he’s a rank amateur, and is counting on the fact that his dead-tree readership will never actually reference the references, or even think objectively about the data.

  26. Hermagoras noted the huge use of the term ‘death throes’ – Yes, a whopping 8 times out several 1000 articles!

    One of those times is in reference to dying stars! And another is a quote about protestantism in Europe. So we have a grand total of 6 refs.!

    Ha! Talk about carping!

    Darwinists are infamous for quibbling, or in the terms of the wisest man that ever lived, “filtering out gnats and swallowing camels”.

    Quibbling: 1. Evade the truth of a point or question by raising irrelevant objections
    2. Argue over petty things

    Yep, that pretty much describes the Darwinist debate technique in general.

    Just add some elephant hurling, a couple of pretty just-so stories, add lots of hot air and you’ve got their recipe for ‘proof’ down pat.

    But we don’t want to overuse the term. So perhaps ‘death throes’ ought to be changed for ‘mortification’ (as per the term used in Darwinist run Holland for killing unfit, i.e. unwanted, persons).

    Or maybe just plain old ‘croaking’ – like a frog.

  27. In live debate he’s masterful at theatrics, equivocation, and supreme confidence where he doesn’t list the specific titles as he did in the review in Nature. I seriously doubt any ID proponent would look forward to sharing the stage with him for an hour. In that regard he is the supreme master of bluffing.

    On the other hand it’s another story when he has something in print. This last round was colossally funny. He was accusing Behe of ignoring articles when these same articles were even mentioned in Behe’s book or studies Behe has already publicly commented on!

    It was a different story with Shallit and Elsberry. Even with the internet, I had to dig for 6 months to a year uncoil their nonsense, and I’m still not done. The area the wrote their paper on is obscure and technically challenging. It was a 60 page monstrosity that was well-crafted by Dembski’s former teacher Shallit.

    For the record, as I don’t know where else to say this, if an ID proponent shared the stage with Miller, this would be one time, given his history of misrepresentation, that I would focus half on science, and the focus the rest on his misrepresentations under oath in Dover and his repeated false accusations. And I wouldn’t be cordial about it either.

    “Miller that’s an equivocation, you offered that same falsehood under oath in Dover and you’re repeating that falsehood again after you’ve been told several times….” No need to be angry in the delivery of the reprimand. The goal is to inspire a little outrage at his conduct to wipe that snotty smile off his face.

    I wouldn’t be polite about it either. If that goes over well with the audience, try it again. At best, the ID proponents have scored draws with the polite approach. Time to try something new.

    In thinking who I’d pick to duel with Miller: Berlinski, Wells, and Luskin. It would take 3 of our best against Mr. Slick on stage. He’s that good.

  28. 28

    Literature bluffing is obviously a form of “fraud”. Its use in debates relating to matters of science surely makes it a form of “scientific fraud”. If Darwinists use this form of fraud in debate where else do they apply a fraudulent approach in order to promote their credo?

  29. “In live debate he’s masterful at theatrics, equivocation, and supreme confidence …” scordova

    I’ve watched many of his lectures, and I agree that he comes across as dynamic, sure of himself, and with strategically injected humor. Once you’ve seen one or two, you’ll know in advance, watching others, the points he’s about to make, which slides are about to pop up, and when his audience will chuckle, gasp, or just smile.

    His favorites are the flagellum/ type III ss topic, the human/ chimp chromosome 2 congruencies, the jawbone to middle ear bones evolution, and others, all answerable in debate as specious, or at least conjectural, regarding irrefutable arguments for ND. Although his timing and theatrics win hearts in his ‘canned’ talks, he would not fare as well in a live debate over the current ‘hot’ issues.

    I especially liked the Meyer Ward debate (4/26/06, Seattle, hosted by David Posman, Seattle Times). The audience seemed pro Peter Ward, but Meyers, sans any theatrics or reaching out to the audience for support as Ward did, maintained a level headed, dialectic based approach which won hands down.

    For the 1:40 minute debate, scroll to ‘meyer’
    http://www.seattlechannel.org/.....m=townHall

    Personally, I’d like to see Behe and Meyer against Miller and Dawkins, for example. Well I can dream, can’t I?

  30. H’mm:

    First, I am very glad to see Prof Behe taking up a blog over at Amazon to take the fight back to the “critics” and “reviewers.”

    In part, of course that requires addressing “literature bluffing.” Perhaps, even, the classic one-sided simplistic summary and piling up of alleged authorities on of a controversial issue as if that says all there is to say, aka “elephant hurling.” [Mutually reinforcing fallacies are often more persuasive by the impact of pernicious synergy.]

    But there is a key issue, well-raised above by Innerbling in 20 and by others: are all lit bluffers outright dishonest or just plain too “stupid” to see the point of arguments they disagree with?

    I don’t think so.

    –> First, a note: our prof of rhetoric above misses the point: if the prime target of a tactic names the fallacy being routinely used against him, that does not mean that such a fallacy is “therefore” not a fallacy: an argument that is persuasive but misleading or deceptive. Obviously, lit bluff as so aptly defined is just that.

    –> Now, too, while there are incompetent lit bluffers, and there are consciously dishonest ones, IMHCO much of the time what is happening is the problem of thinking in a mutually reinforcing but misleading circle.

    –> E.g. NDT advocates are often utterly convinced that they are right. So, they think restating the “consensus” model or speculation on the point s-l-o-w-l-y and s-i-m-p-l-y is enough to “prove” it.

    –> Missing in action: as IB said in 20, they have not paused to seriously look at the actual question of what is, without imposing question-begging assumptions, the best current explanation of the credible and material facts. [Behe is an expert on marshalling inconvenient facts!!!]

    –> So, I am of the opinion that many lit bluffers are first of all self-deceived and/or careless, not calculatedly diabolical. Negligence rather than explicit deceptive intent, in short. (Too many then compound the error by closed-minded hostility and arrogance, sadly.)

    –> Unfortunately, and as noted above, some bluffers are indeed calculatedly deceptive.

    –> And if one is sufficiently prideful, the attempted defence of a mistake can lead one into being and after the fact intentional deceiver. (Prof Miller for one IMHCO, owes us some big explanations and apologies. Perhaps a reminder should be made: metanoia — Gk for repentance, the very first step into “the Kingdom” — is “to change one’s mind.”)

    GEM of TKI

  31. Personally, I’d like to see Behe and Meyer against Miller and Dawkins, for example. Well I can dream, can’t I?

    Meyer is a great speaker!
    Dawkins will never debate darwinism. He might accept participating in a debate about God and religion, but not darwinism. The official reason is that he doesn’t want to give “creationists” credibility, but I think he’s afraid of being soundly defeated.

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  33. Dawkins and Maynard-Smith were defeated in debate by Berlinski, PhD and Wilder-Smith, PhD PhD PhD about 20 years ago. (That’s right, Wilder-Smith has 3 PhD in science, including one from Oxford).

    The intellectual firepower Dawkins faced was too much for him. Dawkins has never debated the science live ever since. Think upon it, if he were succesful at debate (as his supporters say) then the best thing he could do is to keep debating.

    I have an audio tape of the debate, but haven’t listened to it yet.

    It turns out, Dawkins was recently defeated in debate by a Rabbi who wisely focused on the science issues. See: Boteach vs. Dawkins. Dawkins was a sore loser. hehehe.

  34. Hey Sal, broken link on Boteach vs. Dawkins.

  35. Charlie: http://www.tinyurl.com/yoabfd

    That should work.

  36. Thank you, Bork.

  37. The 59 books and articles piled on the witness stand in front of Behe at Dover comes to mind as a classic example.

  38. 38

    Hermagoras said (comment #7) –

    Jehu,

    I’m a Ph.D.-holding college writing teacher, the director of a university writing program, and a published scholar in the rhetoric of science. The term “literature bluffing” was invented, as far as I can tell, by the Discovery Institute here. It is not found in rhetoric generally or the rhetoric of science specifically.

    So? Wikipedia says about the term “quote mining,”

    The phrase originated in the mid-1990s. It is commonly used by non-creationists, who complain that creationists support their arguments by reference to “quote mines” of nuanced statements which, out of context, appear to undercut evolution. It may not be widely used or understood in other contexts.

    Also, there are equivalent expressions for “quote mining” — “quoting out of context” and “cherry-picking quotes” — but I am not aware of any equivalent expression for “literature bluffing.”

    There is nothing wrong with coining new terms and expressions — all common terms and expressions got their start somewhere. I like to coin my own — e.g., substituting “Charlie McCarthyism” for “sockpuppetry” and “BVD-clad blogger” for “pajama-clad blogger.”

  39. that the term “literature bluff” was invented, and is used, almost exclusively by the ID community.

    And the mother of invention is . . . ?

    And would our Ph. d. writing teacher be able to answer if he had not been booted from the building?

  40. Of course Dawkins isn’t going to do debates or actually go into a lab and do science. Like Miller, he’d just rather sell books to the ignorant.

  41. I tried posting to Hermagoras’ site but it didn’t seem to take.

    Anyway, since my opinion seems important to him this is what I said:

    Hiya Hermagoras

    To have a real argument, in rhetorical terms, you have to be willing to admit that the other side may be right.

    So you are willing to admit I.D. may be right?

    And, I’m glad it is dawning on you as to why the phrase “literature bluffing” was “invented” by the I.D. community.

    And, I am sorry you got the boot.

    A little, anyway.

    You did sound a bit full of yourself at times.

    Tribune7

  42. Posts still not appearing on your blog Hermagoras.

    I’m using Safari on a Mac. Could that be the issue?

    H — I’d first have to be willing to admit that (ID is) science. . . .But ID poses a much larger shift it asks that we introduce non-materialist explanations into science.

    Are you willing to admit that ID can offer non-materialist explanations?

  43. I was able to post on hermagoras’s site using Safari on the Mac and using the anonymous option. It didn’t work with Firefox but it did with Safari.

    Hermagoras has a history of belittling Dembski on his site which may be part of the reason he was banned.

  44. –I was able to post on hermagoras’s site using Safari on the Mac and using the anonymous option.

    That’s what I did. Maybe it’s my ISP (Comcast). Or maybe it will remain a mystery.

    I sent him an email. He hasn’t posted it.

  45. Hermagoras, that’s the address I used.

    I also tried posting via IE to your site w/no luck. I can’t imagine Comcast being filtered from your site so we have a mystery.

    When I get to a different computer I’ll try again.

  46. From the Discovery Institute website:
    “Literature bluffing is the indiscriminate citation of scientific papers and articles whose titles or abstracts may seem germane to the problem at hand, but which on careful reading prove not to settle the issue, or even not to have any relevance to it. Like a squid spewing out ink to confuse a pursuer, or a fighter jet dispensing chaff to deflect incoming missiles, a literature bluffer floods the discussion with citations to distract attention from the real issues.”

    I hardly think that my pointing out that Behe’s omission of the Briggs et al. 2004 paper constitute’s “literature bluffing” (the supposed topic of this thread).

    In the Edge of Evolution Behe wrote “It is clear from careful experimental work with all ciliated cells that have been examined, from alga to mice, that a functioning cilium requires a working IFT.” But Briggs and co-workers demonstrated that this is NOT true, and they did it three years before the publication of Behe’s latest book.

    So the question is did Dr. Behe never see this paper during all his careful research on the topic, or did he ignore it?

    -Mark Farmer

  47. Mark Farmer,

    Omitting something is not literature bluffing. Literature bluffing is citing literature that is not relevant to the question being considered.

    Your example is something Behe should haved considered if the article has relevance. Why not send him an email about it. It would be interesting to see his answer.

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