ID journal silently revises article

The online intelligent-design journal, BIO-Complexity (Robert J. Marks II, editor-in-chief; Douglas Axe, managing editor), has revised at least one of its published articles without giving any indication of change. “A Unified Model of Complex Specified Information,” by George D. Montañez, states that it was published on December 14, 2018, and makes no note of having been revised since. However, the article presently has two more entries in the reference list than it did on December 17, 2018, when I downloaded it. The announcments page of the journal says nothing about the change.

BIO-Complexity claims to be an archival publication. Thus the content should not change at all once it is released. The editors have given us reason to wonder how much of journal has silently morphed over the years. They should have required the author to submit an erratum or an addendum, no matter how benign the changes he wanted to make to the article.

I suspect, but cannot be sure, that Montañez changed the article merely to give credit to A. Milosavljević for a theorem, after learning of it from my post “Evo-Info 4: Non-Conservation of Algorithmic Specified Complexity.” If that is the case, then Montañez should have submitted an addendum explaining that he had learned of the theorem from me after his article was published. Changes to supposedly archival material are wrong even when announced, and are doubly wrong when unannounced.

It now behooves the editors of BIO-Complexity to make an announcement detailing the changes to Montañez’s article, and indicating whether any other articles have been modified since publication. If they have any sense at all, then they will announce also that they will never again change material that they represent as archival.

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17 thoughts on “ID journal silently revises article

  1. To be clear, George Montañez (who occasionally comments at TSZ) did not merely extend the reference list, but also modified the text in a couple places to indicate that he was generalizing an existing theorem. However, I don’t know what else he changed. And I shouldn’t have to spend my time trying to figure out what he’s done.

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  2. This is very bad for a journal already subject to a lot of mistrust from the broader scientific community.

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  3. Tom English:
    To be clear, George Montañez (who occasionally comments at TSZ) did not merely extend the reference list, but also modified the text in a couple places to indicate that he was generalizing an existing theorem. However, I don’t know what else he changed. And I shouldn’t have to spend my time trying to figure out what he’s done.

    Scientific knowledge must be progressive. It must be a subject to revision.
    If only materialism, and materialism based Darwinism, recognized the same thing…

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  4. Seriously? Nobody at the DiscoTute thought that by publishing an addendum, they can add another link to their already ridiculously short list of fake peer reviewed papers on ID?

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  5. J-Mac: Scientific knowledge must be progressive. It must be a subject to revision.
    If only materialism, and materialism based Darwinism, recognized the same thing…

    I suppose that you are trolling by deliberately missing the point of Tom’s post. If not, please reread it and keep in mind that

    1) revisions are important for science
    2) archived content should not be altered
    3) point 1) and 2) are not mutually exclusive

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  6. DiEb: I suppose that you are trolling by deliberately missing the point of Tom’s post. If not, please reread it and keep in mind that

    1) revisions are important for science
    2) archived content should not be altered
    3) point 1) and 2) are not mutually exclusive

    Revisions are important for science as long as they don’t include archived content, which is apparently not important for science…

    So, if the archived content contains a false, scientific dogma, such as that eating high fat, high cholesterol diet, including eggs and blubber, causes atherosclerosis, that false, archived content should not be altered because..?

    1. Big pharma sells 50 billion dollars worth of anti-cholesterol drugs per year
    2. Carbohydrate business, especially corn syrup, is more profitable than fat
    3. Some troll doesn’t like my comment and is trying to convince me that black is white
    4. All of the above

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  7. J-Mac, you really miss the point. Back in the printed journal days, your original words stood. You could certainly publish a correction/amendment/ addendum in a subsequent publication, but you couldn’t hide from your original error. But now, apparently, you can eliminate any evidence of that error.

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  8. Acartia:
    J-Mac, you really miss the point. Back in the printed journal days, your original words stood. You could certainly publish a correction/amendment/ addendum in a subsequent publication, but you couldn’t hide from your original error. But now, apparently, you can eliminate any evidence of that error.

    So, you see no problem with correcting an error but rather with who made the error…
    Just imagine that the one correcting the error is a researcher who wants to make sure that nobody can replicate his error because many human lives are at stake…

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  9. J-Mac: ……
    Just imagine that the one correcting the error is a researcher who wants to make sure that nobody can replicate his error because many human lives are at stake…

    And more people will die if he corrects it silently.

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  10. Fair Witness: And more people will die if he corrects it silently.

    More than if the error is not corrected at all???

    Look what happened to Darwinism when Darwinists refused to correct the belief in the omnipotence of natural selection… It became a laughing stock and a punchline for creationists…

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  11. J-Mac: Look what happened to Darwinism when Darwinists refused to correct the belief in the omnipotence of natural selection…

    Yet nobody believes in the omnipotence of natural selection. God, on the other hand…

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  12. JohnnyB is on the editorial board of Bio-Complexity and a moderator here at TSZ. Maybe he can weigh in.

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  13. Hi all,

    The paper was updated on 12/20 (within a week of the initial posting of the paper) to fix two typos and include two references to the work of Milosavljević, who in 1993 came up with a version of algorithmic specified complexity under a different name, and proved a conservation bound for likelihood ratios, which is a special case of my Theorem 2. He also showed that his version of ASC could be used as a hypothesis test. After I learned this, I wanted to give Milosavljević priority. I submitted an updated version which included two references to his work and pointed out in the text that his work preceded mine. That is the extent of the differences between the updated version on 12/20/2019 and the original version posted on 12/14/2019.

    As an aside, in my Turing Test and ID paper I had a similar situation once come up, where I needed to create a second updated version of the paper with an additional reference to relevant work I was notified about post-publication (at the conference where I was presenting it!), and hope that over time it would replace the original on the web. In the BIO-C case I simply asked if there was any mechanism to update the paper before too many people downloaded it, given the fact it had just been posted days before and not yet widely publicized. I didn’t realize there wouldn’t be a mechanism on the platform software to automatically show when / if a change was made, but given the short timespan, hopefully the two versions don’t cause excessive confusion. Over time the second version should be the one archived by Google Scholar, which has become the default archival engine for many, anyway. I actually agree with the archival soundness argument made by Tom, though, so this is a lesson moving forward.

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  14. GeorgeMontanez,

    I appreciate your desire to give Milosavljević the credit he is due. But…

    O’Leary advertized your paper at Uncommon Descent on December 15, just one day after the original version was published. I would suppose that there were more than a few downloads in the five days preceding your revision. Furthermore, you should have known that the “Published: December 14, 2018” note at the head of the revised article was misleading. I’d have followed it with “Revised: December 20, 2018.” And if the editor(s) had refused to let me do that, then I’d have known that the revision wasn’t kosher.

    I appreciate the information you’ve provided here. But you really need to make complete information available to all readers. And the announcements page at BIO-Complexity is the place to do it.

    I’ve done quite a bit of annotation of my PDF copy of the original article. I’m not going to transfer the annotation to a PDF of the revised article. Nor am I going to wade through differences of my marked up PDF and the current PDF (i.e., diffs generated by the Adobe tool for comparing PDF documents): most of the differences are highlighting and notes that I’ve added to the original. So I need a list of the typos you corrected. Again, what I need, you should make available to all who downloaded the original article.

    GeorgeMontanez: I actually agree with the archival soundness argument made by Tom, though, so this is a lesson moving forward.

    I’m glad to see that you agree. But I emphasize that the editors need to make it clear that they’ve learned the lesson. The OP was directed primarily at them, not at you. Again, it’s a good thing that you wanted to give Milosavljević credit.

    GeorgeMontanez: his version of ASC

    Too cute, George.

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  15. George:

    It would be nice if you explained somewhere that your analysis doesn’t apply to what Dembski called “specified complexity” prior to 2005 (i.e., the log improbability of an event with a categorically detachable specification). Eric Holloway is awfully confused about the matter, and he’s probably not the only one.

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  16. Tom English wrote: ‘Furthermore, you should have known that the “Published: December 14, 2018” note at the head of the revised article was misleading. I’d have followed it with “Revised: December 20, 2018.” And if the editor(s) had refused to let me do that, then I’d have known that the revision wasn’t kosher.’

    I think this suggestion is both good and actionable. When I return from my trip (I’m out of the country at the moment), I’ll see if I can submit a version that has the revision date exactly as you suggest. Although I thought the platform would do this automatically, I should have thought to include that myself in either case. Thank you for the suggestion.

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  17. I wonder if any of this year’s papers have been edited after publication. 🙂

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