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  Topic: Biological Information: New Perspectives, The Springer Book Flap< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
sparc



Posts: 1708
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 08 2012,13:06   

From Todd's blog:
Quote
Meanwhile, over at Panda's Thumb, Nick Matzke is in an uproar over the publication of a book called Biological Information: New Perspectives (BI:NP). In his usual blunt style, Matzke is upset because "Springer gets suckered by creationist pseudoscience." For those of you who don't know, Springer is a well-known academic publisher, the kind that puts out books that cost hundreds of dollars that almost no one will ever read. (May I add, if you think he's upset now, wait till he gets a list of the contributing authors. He might go into an apoplectic seizure.) According to Matzke,
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The major publishers have enough problems at the moment ... it seems like the last thing they should be doing is frittering away their credibility even further by uncritically publishing creationist work and giving it a veneer of respectability. The mega-publishers are expensive, are making money off of largely government-funded work provided to them for free, and then the public doesn’t even have access to it. The only thing they have going for them is quality control and credibility – if they give that away to cranks, there is no reason at all to support them.


I'm not interested in discussing the merit of the work published in BI:NP, but I am struck by the interesting parallel between Matzke's and Redfield's complaints. From the information I have, the content of BI:NP has largely to do with natural selection, population genetics, and evolutionary biology. Yet it's being published in an engineering publication called "Intelligent Systems Reference Library." Other titles in the series cover subjects like how to solve math problems with software, robotics for assisting wheelchair navigation, and artificial neural networks. So it's a computer engineering series, not really something that would normally publish on pop genetics and evolutionary biology. I suppose technically, "biological information" falls within the extended periphery of the "Intelligent Systems Reference Library," but the publication of BI:NP leaves me a bit unsettled.

On the one hand, I understand that the authors of this volume probably believe that they cannot get their work published in conventional biology journals, because of their controversial, anti-evolution conclusions. I completely sympathize. I would love to be able to have some of my creationist ideas intelligently read and critiqued by knowledgeable individuals, rather than dismissively scoffed at by "howler monkeys" (you gotta be a real oldtimer to remember that reference). On the other hand, I'm a firm believer in the value of peer review and scientific publication. If a work is rejected, there's probably a reason for the rejection that we should take seriously. Scientific publication isn't just some political game, where friends get published and enemies get punished. It's not an inalienable right either. If we don't respect the process of peer review and publication, then what's the difference between a scientific publication and a propaganda piece? The price tag?

So I'm feeling unsettled, and I'm prepared for all sorts of rants to be directed my way. My email's listed below. Have at it.


Edited by sparc on Mar. 08 2012,13:09

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"[...] the type of information we find in living systems is beyond the creative means of purely material processes [...] Who or what is such an ultimate source of information? [...] from a theistic perspective, such an information source would presumably have to be God."

- William Dembski -

   
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