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The Egnor challenge, day 2

Yesterday, at the end of a post about the fallacious statements about evolution that Dr. Mike Egnor, a Professor of Neurosurgery, has been routinely serving up at the Discovery Institute, I made a challenge. I think I’ll repeat it daily for a while until we see if he’s up to answering it. It should be a very easy challenge for him to meet, given the number of times that he has made the two assertions that I plan to challenge him about.

Here are the two assertions that Dr. Egnor has made on more than one occasion, but most recently on Friday, and I’ll quote him directly:

In fact, most research and education in medicine involves the implicit assumption of design. The best medical research is the search for patterns recognizable as design, and the best teachers teach their students, implicitly or explicitly, to search for design and purpose in human biology.

On a podcast a couple of days before that, Dr. Egnor said:

The intelligent practice of surgery and the thoughtful practice of medicine is to look for patterns to look for things that are not chance and not random, so that the assumption of design, the assumption that there’s reason for the disease you’re treating, and you’re trying to unravel that reason and trying to correct it, means explicitly that you ought to keep Darwinism out of your thoughts. It doesn’t help you, it hurts you. The design inference is of great value in medicine. It actually has been an enormous help in scientific research in general and medical research. You’re a much better doctor and a much better surgeon if you assume that organ you’re working on was designed, understandably.

So, Dr. Egnor, I hereby challenge you to:

  1. Explain, specifically, how the design inference is “of great value” in medicine. Please go beyond your simple repeated assertion that it is, to help all us “fundamentalist Darwinists” to understand, since, this “fundamentalist Darwinist” has yet to be able to find any examples where the design inference helps me as a physician or a surgeon at all. Please support your description with concrete examples, preferably documented in the biomedical peer-reviewed literature that show how the design inference makes one a better physician or contributes to treatments for disease.
  2. Explain, specifically, how the design inference has been of “enormous help in scientific research in general and medical research.” Again, please go beyond your simple repeated assertion that it has been, to help all us “fundamentalist Darwinists” to understand, since, this “fundamentalist Darwinist” has yet to be able to find any examples where the design inference has helped our understanding of human biology and disease. Please support your description with concrete examples documented in the biomedical peer-reviewed literature that show “best medical research” that is based on the “search for patterns recognizable as design.” In other words, show us examples of medical research either based on or strongly influenced by the design inference, and how the design inference led to or facilitated the discovery of a better treatment for a disease or a better understanding of the pathophysiology behind a disease.

Given the number of times Dr. Egnor has made these two assertions, I would think that it should be child’s play for him to humor me and come up with a couple of examples to support each of the two statements of his that I’m questioning. He wouldn’t happen to be avoiding the question and going after arguments that he thinks he can attack without providing any concrete scientific examples, would he? You know, like arguing over what a tautology is?

Perish the thought! Dr. Egnor must know what he is talking about, right? After all, he is a neurosurgeon. Isn’t he just a little willing to educate us poor, deluded Darwinists with some concrete examples?

I’ll be reposting this challenge every day until either Dr. Egnor answers the two questions or I decide that I’ve made my point, which is that he won’t be able to do it.

Whichever comes first.

Anyone want to bet which will come first?

I’ll leave Mike Dunford to do what he sees fit with his own challenge to Dr. Egnor over the evolution of bacterial resistance, and, while you’re at it, you should read Mark’s reply to Dr. Egnor’s blather about tautologies.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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