Thursday, October 23, 2014

I See Berlinskis

Hey, there's a new science journal out. It's called Inference Review.

Sorry, I should have really said that it's a new "science" journal. That's because the weirdness is strong --- very strong --- with this one.

Just look at the first articles they published. One is by Michael Denton, the odd biologist who published an anti-evolution book called Evolution: A Theory in Crisis back in 1985. Needless to say, that book was filled with errors and misunderstandings. That ignorance, however, didn't prevent Denton from acquiring a big fan base among the intelligent design crowd (when does it ever?); Phillip E. Johnson and the laughable George Gilder counted themselves among Denton's fans. And Denton's new Inference Review article is touted by none other than that pathetic ID pipsqueak Casey Luskin.

Demonstrating yet another example of crank magnetism, a second Infererence Review article is by global warming skeptic William Kininmonth.

Are you beginning to get suspicious yet? Who's running the show here?

Well, we don't know. Unlike real science journals, nowhere on the website for Inference Review can one find a listing of the editorial board. I wonder why they want to hide...

A sharp-eyed commenter on a private mailing list points out, however, that the journal's twitter followers include, in addition to a few gullible science journalists, two different Berlinskis: Mischa and the eminently silly Claire Berlinski.

Hmmm. What would possess two Berlinskis to follow an obscure and mysterious "science" journal with intelligent design creationist and global warming denialist leanings?

Read some of the pages and you'll come to the same conclusion I did. That ol' poseur David Berlinski is surely involved somehow. All the signs are there: the Francophilia (why else would the grotesque caricatures be featured?), the pretension, the supercilious turns, the obsession with criticizing evolution, the solicitation for articles on mathematics topics dear to David, and the use of the word "irrefragable"; all are Berlinski hallmarks.

C'mon, David! Don't hide your light under a bushel. Come out into the open.


NickM said...

I agree -- also, the author of the protein article was a coauthor with Berlinski of some Discovery Institute posts replying to my reviews of Stephen Meyer's "Darwin's Doubt" book. Those DI posts were pretty incoherent, they were kind of a weird mashup of Berlinskisms and typical amateur creationist whining about evidence not being good enough -- although much of this has been abandoned in the "Inference" article on protein evolution, the author now seems to accept a great deal of protein evolution (I guess the evidence was fine, once he learned it) and has pushed the problem all the way back to the origin of life and the origin of the first proteins.

I hath getweeted Jeff Shallit's blog at @inferencereview :

lantog said...

Tyler Hampton has a similar writing style and similar interests to Berlinski. It may be a pseuodonym.

SPARC said...

As I already mentioned on the DI EN&V thread at AtBC the ‎Associate & Acquisitions Editor at Inference is Alessia Weil the translator of the French edition of Behe's Darwin's Black Box.;f=14;t=7198;st=600#entry238416

NickM said...

"Tyler Hampton has a similar writing style and similar interests to Berlinski. It may be a pseudonym."

I suspect not, since there is an article, "Hopeless Matzke", at the DI where Tyler Hampton and David Berlinski are listed as coauthors. When you read it, you can pretty much tell which sentences were written by Berklinski (the superciliousness, the purple prose, the monotonic contrarianism) and which were written by somebody else (the stuff with vaguely capable, but not really, treatment of molecular evolution).

That article is, though, further evidence that Berlinski is closely involved with "Inference Review."

NickM said...

Wow, look at "Inference Review" trolling the Twitterverse for mentions. And, occasionally, it works!

Diogenes said...

Hampton? Hampton? Leaving aside the upscale real estate pretensions, what kind of Jew would use Tyler Hampton as a pseudonym? Berlinski might as well call himself Goyim McSelf-Hatred.

Diogenes said...

They already have BIO-Complexity, that's one vanity journal. Do they really need two vanity journals?

Is this second vanity journal just so they can suck in, and suck off, the no-global warming cranks? Do they think they'll get paid big $$$ for stroking Kochs?

Somewhere in Seattle, some asshole is giving a powerpoint presentation and greasily muttering, "Synergy..."

lantog said...

I'm halfway through the "Hampton" article and I'd bet my next paycheck that this is Berlinski writing under a pseudonym. Either that or he so heavily edited it that he should get some credit for it. The way the topic unfolds, the way ideas are introduced and the snarky remarks that upon a little reflection don't seem to be apt are all hallmarks of his writing. I know of no one else who writes this least no one else in the last 2 centuries.( Come to think of it Schutzenberger might have been similar)
I think his reasons for doing this are obvious- he can avoid all the nasty criticism for poor scholarship that his articles usually elicit

NickM said...

I don't detect heavy Berlinski in the 2014 Hampton article specifically, Berlinski reaaaaaally lays it on thick in his writing with the wannabe-witicisms-deployed-to-avoid-simple-facts schtick. It's not that thick in the Hampton article, although there are annoying bits. I've never seen much evidence that Berlinski has even the amount of biochemistry understanding displayed in the Hampton pieces.

If you google the names, Berlinksi also thanks a Tyler Hampton back in a 2006 article on the origin of life. What would be the point? Some kind of long-running in-joke? It's hard to see why anyone would bother. But, it is perfectly plausible to suggest that (a) Tyler Hampton is a big fan of Berlinski, (b) Berlinski was an editor on the 2014 Hampton article and even suggested some turns of phrase, (c) "Tyler Hampton" is a pseudonym for somebody, (d) Tyler Hampton ain't mostly a tennis coach.

My subjective odds on these are, I guess (a) 90%, (b) 50%, (c) 50%, (d) 99%. YMMV of course.

6-bleen-7 said...

Someone there has a sense of humor, though; the Contact page reads, "Editors are pleased to receive death threats on the third Thursday of the month."

lantog said...

I've finished the 2014 Hampton article and my impression thats it's Berlinski is as strong as ever. Of course, Hampton could be a big fan of Berlinski and go out of his way to emulate his writing style - minus the egregiously bad metaphors, and Berlinski thanking him in 2006 is certainly evidence against my idea. But if I was going to ignore all that and run with my impression I'd say that Berlinski has a good reason to hide his identity. The article presents a fairly good exposition of origins of proteins research. I think there are important points omitted but this can be justified because the article is based on the research of a single lab. Its not until the last third of the article where the writer suggests that the origins of proteins is intractable. But these comments arent that far from what some researchers in the field might say. More to the point, I cant imagine that the writer of this article thinks the spontaneous creation of protein families by a super-intellect is a viable idea. If this is Berlinski, he's not hiding from his critics, he's hiding from the DI.

NickM said...

It is true the Hampton article gives away most of the game to the evolution side. If Hampton is right, then Stephen Meyer is wrong about the impossibility of the origin of new information, new genes, new proteins, new molecular adaptations etc. Hamton pushes the problem all the way back to the origin of new protein structures and the origin of life. The huge thing Hampton misses is the work on the origin of new protein structures through major structural modifications induced by one or a few mutations, which indicates that while structural transitions are rare, they are not impossible, which lines up exactly with the general phylogenetic evidence.

IThinkWithMy Liver said...

I read this blog & kept confusing in my mind Berlinski with Burzynski, the multimillionaire Texas doctor who has "cured" all cancer. Miraculously, I might add.

David L. Levine said...

Obviously Tyler is not his real name. Unless tennis pros, as his bio say, are writing science articles now.

The magazine's editors are anonymous. I was told that is their policy.