I read this as a counter point book to my books on evolution. In this book, the author, Michael Behe, presents an idea that he calls irreducible compl...moreI read this as a counter point book to my books on evolution. In this book, the author, Michael Behe, presents an idea that he calls irreducible complexity. In a nut shell, a biological system is irreducibly complex if you are unable to take a piece of it away and have it still function in the same way. Evolution operates through gradual changes; so, an irreducibly complex system cannot be brought about by evolution, because that would require a drastic change, where all parts of the system come into existence at the same time. This leads to the idea that since we cannot see a way for evolution to do this, there must have been an intelligent designer who created the system.
Behe demonstrates his idea through an analog, the spring loaded mouse trap. This is composed of a hammer, spring, catch, holding bar, and a platform; take away any of these pieces and the mouse trap will no loner work. So, it is impossible for there to be a gradual build-up of this mousetrap in an evolutionary way. Behe, then goes into list several examples of biological systems that he thinks are irreducibly complex, this includes: cilium (little hairs of a single celled organism that help it swim), the bacterial flagellum (some bacteria have a whip like tail that gives them locomotion), the immune system, the blood clotting cascade (the chemical reactions your body uses to clot its blood), etc.
A problem with all of this is it depends on an argument from ignorance. Just because you don't know how it was done, does not mean an intelligence did it. As Frances Bacon once said, "the subtlety of nature is greater many times over than the subtlety of argument." What Behe does not seem to realize, is there are ways to gradually improve systems to the point that they are irreducibly complex. There can be, for example, "scaffolding" in place with a less efficient system that supports the new system and then is evolved away because it wastes resources to keep both the scaffolding and the more efficient, but irreducibly complex system in place. Another point that is lost on Behe, is the current function might not have been needed before each of the pieces were assembled. It has been shown, for example with the bacterial flagellum, that each piece of it are already in use in the bacteria doing other jobs.
In later chapters, Behe takes notes from creationists, and decides to quote mine biologists. He tries to paint the picture that evolution is falling out of favor with the scientists. This only works if you don't look up the quotes and trust his research. He even goes as far to pick up one of their books, claiming that not a word of evolution is mentioned in it (judging from the index). I was reading an article by the author of this textbook and he was baffled on how Behe got it all wrong. He pointed out, his book expected the audience to already know evolution and his book was not even about that topic; but he did find some chapters in his book that mention evolution. This is an even bigger disappointment for me as it shoots his credibility to hell. I have listened too much to the biological community to believe evolution, something they claim is fundamental to the science, is falling out of favor.
In closing, this has not swayed me to believe in Intelligent Design over the theory of evolution; it is an old and interesting idea that depends on the god of the gaps. That and he really could have left out the BS about biologists not supporting evolution. (less)
My dad asked me to read this book because I didn't seem to agree with him that Obama was a "wolf in sheep's clothing". The book seems rife with conspi...moreMy dad asked me to read this book because I didn't seem to agree with him that Obama was a "wolf in sheep's clothing". The book seems rife with conspiracy theory; it talks about some "shadow party" that is controlling the liberal establishment through what they depict as the liberal extremist George Soros. They create some loose connections between some extreme liberal activist in the 60s and 70s with Soros and his philanthropic organizations, and try to make the point that he is controlling the Democrat Party.
There are plenty of problems with the research done in the book. If you look up the quotes, there is a lot of mischaracterizations. This combined with the weak links make this for an awful batch of fear mongering and conspiracy theory. (less)
Kernighan and Richie, the authors of the C language, wrote this book that is still used throughout the industry. This is an easy to read book to use t...moreKernighan and Richie, the authors of the C language, wrote this book that is still used throughout the industry. This is an easy to read book to use to learn the C language and it will serve as a reference for the rest of your C career.(less)