Saturday, August 23, 2014

You’re making things up again, Robert J. Marks II

One of the “20 Most Influential Christian Scholars,” the distinguished professor who approved a master’s thesis that plagiarized his own publications, your favorite whited sepulcher and mine, Robert J. Marks II, is making things up again. This time it’s a tale of censorship of the creationist-edited volume Biological Information: New Perspectives, told through a conservative political outlet, Human Events. Marks embellishes and contradicts what Casey Luskin, an intelligent-design advocate at the Discovery Institute, reported a year ago. He would have you believe:

Despite the intelligent design content, the German publishing company Springer invited the organizers to publish papers from the conference. But, even though no one had yet seen the book, publicity at an atheistic leaning neo-Darwinist blog prompted an anti-ID activist to contact Springer upper management and claim Springer’s publishing of the book would ruin Springer’s reputation in science. So Springer reneged on its contract with the Editors at the last minute.
Luskin flatly contradicts the first statement. And I’ve had, since March 2, 2012, a copy of the email that the “anti-ID activist” sent to Springer. It is utterly devoid of what Marks attributes to it [see for yourself]. Here is what I think is significant: the author sent the note to a Ph.D. scientist-editor at Springer US. But Springer DE was handling the book, according to Luskin. [The editor did not reply.] It may well be that New York pushed the panic button in Heidelberg. In any case, we know for sure:

You’re making things up again, Robert

Marks points out that Springer reneged on the contract, but somehow forgets to mention that he knew from the outset that the deal was shady. According to Luskin, it was Dembski who proposed to an editor of a Springer engineering series on intelligent systems that Biological Information: New Perspectives be included. Dembski would think that he could talk a fast line to justify it. He thinks that about everything he does. But Marks’ field is intelligent systems. And so is mine. He knew just as well as I did that it was wrong to dump the book into that series. A big threat to the publisher’s reputation, I think, was that institutions buying all volumes, expecting them to be about intelligent systems as advertized, would scream loudly when they got creationism instead.

I can’t resist amplifying Marks’ first sentence.

A diverse group of [secretly invited] scientists [many of whom were not scientists] gathered at [but not under the auspices of] Cornell University in 2011 to discuss their research [not peer-reviewed] into the nature and origins of biological information [loosely interpreted].
My initial response to the proceedings of the enclave is here. I wish that I’d given more emphasis to the fact that, despite all of Marks’ bragging about the attendees, the organizers didn’t, well, organize them to review the papers of their peers. The symposium was pretty much a group-hug. There were many presentations by John Sanford, who is busy setting up simulations to show that genomes only deteriorate — and rapidly, at that. He’s confident that our species won’t survive to the end of the century. It’s all science, of course. But he does hope to persuade you that the End Time is at hand.

Marks and Luskin carry on about their contract. But they don’t seem terribly anxious to admit that they consort with people who, if their madness did not align with established religions, would be locked up. At present, a guy I know well is heavily preoccupied with off-brand religion, and is in the protective custody of the state. He seems no crazier to me than Sanford. (Watch this if you think I’m exaggerating.) And the injustice of the difference in society’s treatment of him and it’s treatment of a YEC with an elaborate delusional system is weighing heavily on my mind.


  1. Shouldn't the date of the e-mail you mention be rather March 2, 2012?

    1. Is it my eyes, or my short-term memory?

  2. "gathered at [but not under the auspices of] Cornell University"

    Not that you would know it from the web site of the book at the eventual publisher:
    World Scientific.

    "Proceedings of the Symposium
    Cornell University, USA, 31 May – 3 June 2011"

  3. "at an atheistic leaning neo-Darwinist blog"

    Is that a reference to Panda's Thumb? Run by the distinctly accommodationist NCSE? Not nearly atheistic enough for my taste.

    1. Yes, The Panda's Thumb, which is a far cry from Why Evolution Is True. Even more hilarious is the "anti-ID activist." He's the mildest of the pack nipping at the heels of the creationists.

      By the way, PT was never run by the NCSE. There's now the Science League of America blog at NCSE.