Discovery Institute says Matzke can’t read, misuses cladistics
Yes, that is a deliberately ambiguous heading. Discovery Institute really does say that Matzke misuses cladistics. But the most prominent example that I can find of that particular misuse comes from a fellow of the DI itself.
Nick Matzke’s “hopeless monster” review of Darwin’s Doubt must have really got to the Discovery Institute. Evolution News and Views, one of their many glossy web publications dedicated to denying evolution, has singled it out for extensive criticism twice in three days.
On July 16, we had that well-known expert on the palaeontological literature, Casey Luskin (MS Earth Sciences), telling us that Matzke actually used to be paid money by the National Center for Science Education to present the arguments in favour of evolution, so obviously his opinion in its favour is biased. An interesting argument. I seem to remember being paid money myself, by four separate universities over the course of my career, to present the arguments in favour of the reality of atoms. Roll over Darwin, roll over Dalton. Worse, Nick is only a graduate student, so how dare he criticise a full-fledged PhD like Stephen Meyer (BS Physics/Earth Science, PhD Philosophy)?
By the way, congratulations, Nick, on your paper http://www.pnas.org/content/110/30/12355.abstract?sid=1ff5d4c5-1028-4866-a41a-27a34ac220c9 making the front cover of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. An elegant use of duplicated genes to reduce the error bars on the dating of nodes in phylogenetic trees.
Two days later, David Berlinski (PhD Philosophy) criticises Nick for saying Meyer should have used cladistics. Berlinski thinks these are worthless. Why? Because (true enough) we can twiddle a clade about its root node and this changes the order in which we list the termini. Which Berlinski thinks means that we are changing the meaning of the cladogram (utter bollocks). Check out his actual posting which includes the above diagram, meant to expose the stupidity of any one using cladistics.
One small irony is that I have only once seen cladistic reasoning misused in the way that Berlinski suggests. I refer to Of Pandas and People, which claims ( on p. 37) that molecular biology “contradicts the Darwinian expectation”, because it places all vertebrates at the same distance from arthropods, whereas (present-day) fish ought to be closer to them than reptiles are. Joint author of this piece of garbage, Dean Kenyon, fellow of the Discovery Institute.
To conclude, DI’s criticism of Matzke and his credentials reminds me of an old definition of Chutzpah; an ant climbing an elephants leg with intent to rape.