Thursday, November 16, 2006

Michael Behe and Astrology- What did he mean?

For those who are interested in what Michael Behe actually meant.
After the discussion resulting from the previous post on this subject I thought I would ask him....

Q1. At the deposition for the Dover trial when you were asked the question about astrology where you answered "It could be...Yes" were you thinking of "astrology" as it is practiced in terms of the present day...horoscopes etc or were you thinking in terms of astrology related to astronomy in the history of science... or something else?

(deposition statement)

17 Q. Using your definition of theory, is Creationism -- using
18 your definition of scientific theory, is Creationism a
19 scientific theory?
20 Behe. No.
21 Q. What about creation science?
22 Behe. No.
23 Q. Is astrology a theory under that definition?
24 Behe. Is astrology? It could be, yes.

Michael Behe:

I was not thinking of the modern superstition of astrology, but of the idea of astrology in the middle ages, when people were trying to discern what forces actually were in play in nature. After all, if planetary bodies such as the moon and sun could affect the tides on earth, perhaps they could affect other things as well, such as people's behavior. We now know that to be wrong, but at the time it was a reasonable idea, based on physical evidence. I am told by some historians of science that the educated classes of Europe thought astrology to be quite scientific.

Q2. At the time of your deposition statement did you believe that astrology (as it is understood and practiced today) was included within your broader definition of "scientific theory?"

Michael Behe:

No, not modern astrology, as practiced by card readers with bandanas on their heads and such. I had in mind astrology of centuries ago, when educated people thought it might really have explanatory power.

Q3. Do you currently believe that astrology (as it is understood and practiced today) is included now within your broader definition of "scientific theory?"

Michael Behe:

No, of course not. Best wishes. Mike Behe

This was what I had surmised from reading the transcript of Behe from the trial. It is good to know that I had understood his position correctly.


Anonymous Hrafn said...

Trial testimony:
Question:"But you are clear, under your definition, the definition that sweeps in intelligent design, astrology is also a scientific theory, correct?"
Behe: Yes, that's correct.

All else is spin: Behe's, the Discovery Institute's, yours.

1:55 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...


When Behe said "Yes that's correct" he meant astrology in its archaic meaning and intended it to be understood as a scientific theory in the same way as the ether theory of light propagation. To maintain that Behe meant modern astrology when he said "Yes that's correct" is to maintain that he is a liar and that his testimony cannot be trusted based on the evidence that you know what he meant better than he did.

7:32 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

That is a complete pile of dishonest spin Andrew!


It means the PRESENT TENSE!

He was asked "...astrology is also a scientific theory, correct?"

He was NOT asked "...astrology was, archaically, a scientific theory?"


"Is" means "was", "no answers" means "not the particular impossible answer I was looking for."

Maybe what Behe meant by "Yes, that's correct." was "I think I'll have a steak salad for lunch" - that makes about as much sense as your ID-la-la-land spin.

There really is no ID bullshit too dishonest for you to swallow it and shovel it, is there Andrew?

You are beneath contempt!

9:11 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

Oh, and we can add modern astrology to evolutionary biology, philosophy of science, immunology and microbiology, in the list of things Michael Behe knows nothing about.

Modern astrology is performed using computer programs, not "card readers with bandanas on their heads." Or do you think you can calculate a Natal Chart with a bandana?

The guy just can't keep his foot out of his mouth.

Or maybe by "card readers with bandanas" he actually meant a "flash-card reader with a Banias [aka Pentium M: a type of CPU]." It's really soooooo hard to keep ID-speak straight.

12:53 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

Oh, and I'm not alone on the "'is' means 'is'" front. Judge Jones said in his decision that:
"...Professor Behe admitted that his broadened definition of science, which encompasses ID, would also embrace astrology.."

I'm also fairly sure that if we ask the lawyer who asked the question, we'll find out that, by miraculous coincidence, he also meant "is" to mean "is".

We will probably find that Michael Behe, alone in the courtroom, didn't understand the obvious meaning of the question. Maybe we should send him to Remedial English?

But by all means continue spinning incoherently. I await the day when you "prove that black is white" and get yourself "killed on the next zebra crossing."

1:11 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

Let me put it another way:

Lawyer asks Behe a question.

Behe decides that he doesn't like this question so answers a different question.

Lawyer drags Behe back to original question and forces an answer out of him.

Behe decides that he really doesn't like this question, so decides to pretend, after the court case is over and the decision has been handed down, that the question was the one that he wanted to answer, not the one that was asked.

How delusional is this?

3:36 pm  
Blogger Paul (probably - maybe Liz) said...

Let's try this. Hrafn, you are wrong. Not beneath contempt, just wrong.

MAN: It's the influence of television. Now, now Marshall McLuhan deals with it in terms of it being a, a high-- high intensity, you understand? A hot medium--

WOODY ALLEN: What I wouldn't give for a large sock with horse manure in it.

MAN: -- as opposed to the truth which he [sees as the] media or--

WOODY ALLEN: What can you do when you get stuck on a movie line with a guy like this behind you?

MAN: Now, Marshall McLuhan--

WOODY ALLEN: You don't know anything about Marshall McLuhan's work--

MAN: Really? Really? I happen to teach a class at Columbia called TV, Media and Culture, so I think that my insights into Mr. McLuhan, well, have a great deal of validity.

WOODY ALLEN: Oh, do you?

MAN: Yeah.

WOODY ALLEN: Oh, that's funny, because I happen to have Mr. McLuhan right here. Come over here for a second?

MAN: Oh--

WOODY ALLEN: Tell him.

MARSHALL McLUHAN: -- I heard, I heard what you were saying. You, you know nothing of my work. How you ever got to teach a course in anything is totally amazing.

WOODY ALLEN: Boy, if life were only like this.

9:39 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

"Michael Behe and Astrology- What did he mean?"

he meant;

science should include the paranormal or supernatural or religious or spiritual or whatever you like to call it. ... then it could include Intelligent Design.

If you read what he said, nothing else makes sense.

But then it wouldn't be science, would it?

Of course he may have been spouting nonsense. That's possible, don't you think.

ps did you see Torchwood this week? Nice fairies, what?

11:02 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

Paul said :

"WOODY ALLEN: Tell him.

MARSHALL McLUHAN: -- I heard, I heard what you were saying. You, you know nothing of my work. How you ever got to teach a course in anything is totally amazing.

WOODY ALLEN: Boy, if life were only like this."

Paul, are you trying to tell us that you have god to hand to resolve any problems?

like this -

PAUL: Tell him.

GOD: I heard, I heard what you were saying. You know nothing of my work....

PAUL: Boy, if life were only like this"...

If only....but it isn't...

11:15 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

To clarify;

Marshall McLuhan no longer exists. And neither does god...

Unless you have some proof...

11:50 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

Let's try this Paul:

You are irrelevant.

You make a bald, unsubstantiated assertion. This has zero probative value.

Lawyers get to ask questions. Witnesses get to answer them. Witnesses don't get to decide which questions they answer, and most certainly don't get to reinterpret their testimony, after the case is over, to their hearts content. If there is any question over what it all meant, then the judge gets to decide (and he did).

Your silly little Woody Allen skit is likewise irrelevant to the issue at hand.

3:05 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"To maintain that Behe meant modern astrology when he said "Yes that's correct" is to maintain that he is a liar..."

No. It is to maintain that Behe knows the difference between the present and past tense.

1:42 pm  
Anonymous clickhereforfreebook said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:01 pm  
Blogger Tertium Quid said...

I would point future readers back to Hrafn's first comment, and compare his excerpt to Behe's full answer and decide for themselves whether something important was left out:

Yes, that's correct. And let me explain under my definition of the word "theory," it is -- a sense of the word "theory" does not include the theory being true, it means a proposition based on physical evidence to explain some facts by logical inferences. There have been many theories throughout the history of science which looked good at the time which further progress has shown to be incorrect. Nonetheless, we can't go back and say that because they were incorrect they were not theories. So many many things that we now realized to be incorrect, incorrect theories, are nonetheless theories.

A really good overview of this part of the testimony can be found here. And actually, I think Michael Shermer, self-described "Skeptic," has argued something similar for both astrology and Marxism in terms of "scientific" as falsifiable (although Popperian philosophy is not the only game in town).

5:59 pm  

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