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Matzke drubs Behe in Trends in Ecology and Evolution


Adding to the chorus of informed criticism of Michael Behe's latest book, The Edge of Evolution (Free Press, 2007), is Nick Matzke, writing in Trends in Ecology and Evolution (November 2007; 22 [11]: 566-567). In his brief review, Matzke focuses on Behe's central thesis, that "anything as complex as a three-protein complex is beyond the reach of random mutation aided by natural selection," and contends that Behe's argument "collapses at every step," concluding that "Behe is driven not by a truly scientific investigation, but instead by metaphysics." Writing on The Panda's Thumb blog (October 27, 2007), Matzke commented, "There are a great many things wrong with Behe's book, and attempting to hit the most important points effectively, with just 750 words to work with, was quite a challenge."

Because a preprint version of his review was available on-line, both on the Trends in Ecology and Evolution website and at The Panda's Thumb blog (October 30, 2007), before the official version was published, Behe was able already to respond to Matzke's review on his own blog. In Matzke's rejoinder posted on The Panda's Thumb (November 6, 2007), he summarizes, "By my count, Behe only bothered to give it a try on 3/8 points, only gave it a significant shot on one, and was easily shot down on all three. If anyone wonders why Behe has repeatedly failed to convince when he has informed opposition -- for example, in the scientific community, or in court -- now you have your answer. He gives excuses rather than answers, and when problems are pointed out, he mostly just hopes that his fans will remain ignorant of them."

Now a graduate student in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, Matzke worked for NCSE from 2004 to 2007. While at NCSE, he coauthored articles for Nature Immunology, Nature Reviews Microbiology, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), and Not in Our Classrooms, and contributed a chapter to the new edition of But Is It Science? The Philosophical Question in the Creation/Evolution Controversy (Prometheus Books, forthcoming). Seed magazine profiled him in 2006 as one of its nine "Revolutionary Minds." And he was the lead NCSE staffer working on the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, providing a wealth of scientific expertise and practical advice to the legal team representing the ultimately victorious plaintiffs.