I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Aptly named "Lemon test" sucks

The infamous "Lemon test", named for the Supreme Court decision of Lemon v. Kurtzman where it originated, is a set of judicial tests that has been frequently used for many years in deciding Establishment Clause cases. The test originally consisted of three parts or "prongs," though often just the first two prongs are used now. The first prong is often called the "purpose" prong and the second prong is often called the "effect" prong. The Lemon test was used in both the Kitzmiller v. Dover and the Selman v. Cobb County (textbook sticker) cases.

The ambiguity and subjectivity of the Lemon test often lead to inconsistent results, and either scrapping or modifying the test has been strongly considered. Consider the "purpose" prong, for example. This is generally defined as follows: "The government's action must have a legitimate secular purpose." But must this "legitimate secular purpose" be an intended purpose, or can it be a commonly perceived purpose or even just any arguable purpose? How are intentions to be determined? Is it the purpose of just the government officials, or can it also be the purpose of the constituents who influence the government officials? Which and how many government officials or members of the public should be included when determining the purpose? Should the intended "purpose" be considered at all, since different people have different purposes and what really counts anyway is the "effect"? How can a decision be universally applicable if it is wholly or partly based on people's purposes or motives? These questions have been answered in different ways by different decisions that have used the Lemon test. And even after these questions are answered, there is a lot of subjectivity in applying the chosen definition of "purpose."

A judicial test called the "endorsement test" has also been used in establishment clause cases, sometimes as a refinement of the Lemon test.

The judges are supposed to apply the Lemon test from the standpoint of an imaginary "objective observer," sometimes called a "reasonable observer." But how well informed should the imaginary objective observer be about the challenged action: just minimally informed, well informed, or very well informed (as was Judge Jones after hearing about three weeks of expert testimony in the Dover case)? Should the objective observer be familiar with the local history of the challenged action? One hundred years from now, would it matter to an objective observer what the current local history of the challenged action is?

It has been argued -- correctly, I believe -- that the Lemon test actually conflicts with the Constitution's Free Exercise Clause. For example, to avoid being charged with religious motivation under the Lemon test, people will tend to avoid free exercise of their right to express religious belief. This avoidance goes beyond merely avoiding expressing religious belief in connection with something that might be considered to be an Establishment Clause violation; to avoid a charge of religious motivation, people will tend to avoid all statements of religious belief and avoid connections with religious organizations, including church attendance. There is a double standard here -- Darwinists like Kenneth Miller are free to express their religious beliefs and say that their belief in Darwinism is consistent with and even based upon their religious beliefs, but critics of Darwinism do not have this freedom. Religious motivation is not fatal under the Lemon test, because religious motivation is OK if a legitimate secular purpose can be shown, but it is safest to avoid charges of religious motivation altogether. The Lemon test has other conflicts with the Free Exercise Clause -- see "Why Separation Is Not the Key to Church-State Relations".

Application of the Lemon test went completely berserk in the Kitzmiller v. Dover and Selman v. Cobb County decisions, where this test was (1) used to ban things that neither mentioned anything religious nor contained any religious symbols and (2) used to ban things for a reason having nothing to do with religion, that reason being to suppress scientific ideas that some people disagree with.

Many of the supporters of the Dover and Cobb County decisions think or pretend to think that these decisions were inevitable, but judges have a lot of latitude in making decisions. And these supporters of the decisions see no conflict between their belief that the decisions were inevitable and their inability to exactly predict the decisions.

Please don't get me wrong -- I am a strong supporter of church-state separation. For example, I am strongly opposed to school prayer. However, I think that church-state separation often goes too far. Often the fear of government promotion of religion does not just border on paranoia but is paranoia.

I am no great fan of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, but I found his description of the Lemon test to be especially apt: "Like some ghoul in a late-night horror movie that repeatedly sits up in its grave and shuffles abroad, after being repeatedly killed and buried, Lemon stalks our Establishment Clause jurisprudence once again .....no fewer than five of the currently sitting Justices have, in their own opinions, personally driven pencils through the creature's heart...and a sixth has joined an opinion doing so........When we wish to strike down a practice it forbids, we invoke it....when we wish to uphold a practice it forbids, we ignore it entirely.......I agree with the long list of constitutional scholars who have criticized Lemon and bemoaned the strange Establishment Clause geometry of crooked lines and wavering shapes its intermittent use has produced." Citations omitted. -- from Concurrence in Lamb's Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District, 508 U.S. 384, 398-99 (1993). Justice Scalia wrote those words way back in 1993, and now it is 2006 and this "ghoul" still haunts us.

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17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please don't get me wrong -- I am a strong supporter of church-state separation.

Liar.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 8:22:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said --

>>>>>"Please don't get me wrong -- I am a strong supporter of church-state separation."

Liar. <<<<<<<

I said that I support separation of church and state. I did not say that I support separation of bogus science and state (I am not conceding that ID is bogus science).

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 10:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(I am not conceding that ID is bogus science)

Of course it's not bogus science. It is creationism, pure and simple.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said --

>>>>(I am not conceding that ID is bogus science)

Of course it's not bogus science. It is creationism, pure and simple.<<<<<

Creationism is supposedly based on the bible. So where does ID mention the bible or cite anything from the biblical account of creation? And where does the bible mention irreducible complexity, bacterial flagella, blood-clotting cascades, etc.?

As Loony Flake on Panda's Thumb would say, (sound of crickets chirping)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 11:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Creationism is supposedly based on the bible.

As you well know, lyin' larry looserman, ID is scientific creationism stripped of explicit references to God in an attempt to sneak by the First Amendment.

You know that. You're just dishonest scum.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 2:32:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said ( 5/17/2006 02:32:26 PM ) --

>>>>Creationism is supposedly based on the bible.

As you well know, lyin' larry looserman, ID is scientific creationism stripped of explicit references to God in an attempt to sneak by the First Amendment.

You know that. You're just dishonest scum.<<<<<

Insults will get you nowhere.

Your original response said "creationism," not "scientific creationism." The word "creationism" by itself is usually understood to mean biblical creationism. BTW, "creation science" is another name for scientific creationism.

Also, creation science (which I believe is the preferred term) does not necessarily make explicit references to god or anything else that is religious. Creation science is a much broader subject than ID.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 3:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, creation science (which I believe is the preferred term) does not necessarily make explicit references to god or anything else that is religious.

Of course. This is because it was also an attempt to end-run the First Amendment.

If it weren't for the First Amendment and Supreme Court rulings based on it, neither "Creation Science" or "Intelligent Design" would exist.

And that's the historically acurate truth.

Thursday, May 18, 2006 8:27:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous wrote ( 5/18/2006 08:27:03 AM ) ---

>>>>>>Also, creation science (which I believe is the preferred term) does not necessarily make explicit references to god or anything else that is religious.

Of course. This is because it was also an attempt to end-run the First Amendment.

If it weren't for the First Amendment and Supreme Court rulings based on it, neither "Creation Science" or "Intelligent Design" would exist.<<<<<<

Wrong.

The National Center for Science Education gives a list of the most significant court cases involving public-school teaching of evolution theory and challenges to the theory. The Wikipedia online encylopedia's article on "Creation science" shows that the terms "creation science" or its equivalent term "scientific creationism" were in use before the teaching of creationism in the public schools was banned by the Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard(1987). The term "creation science" was itself used in the Louisiana statute that was struck down by the Supreme Court in Edwards.

As for "intelligent design," the Wikipedia online encyclopedia shows that this term was in use long before Edwards, and that the concept itself dates back to the ancient Greeks. See "Origins of the Concept" and "Origins of the Term" in the Wikipedia article on "Intelligent Design".

"Creation science" ("scientific creationism") and "intelligent design" are completely different from "biblical creationism," as I have pointed out. Biblical creationism is just the account of creationism in the bible. Equating all three terms is like equating Darwinism and Lamarckism.

Thursday, May 18, 2006 1:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liar

Thursday, May 18, 2006 3:25:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said --

>>>>>Liar<<<<<

Anonymous, I spent a lot of time researching my last response to you, and all you can say is "liar"?

Anonymous, you -- along with "Rilke's Granddaughter" and "VoiceInWilderness" -- are going on my shitlist of commenters who I will not respond to. I am also tempted to put Kevin Vicklund on the list because of the bad treatment he has been giving me on Panda's Thumb, but unfortunately he often makes persuasive arguments which I must answer.

This unfortunately puts me in a bad situation, as it means that you people might occasionally make a good argument which may go unanswered. Other bloggers have a much better way of dealing with trolls like you -- the bloggers just delete your comments or don't post them in the first place. But I can't do that because of my no-censorship pledge.

Thursday, May 18, 2006 5:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Salvelinus said...

Larry, how doltish can you be? Of course the term creation science was around before Edwards! Edwards vs. Aguillard is the case that ended the charade. The term had to be around before you can have a Supreme Court hearing!

Saturday, May 20, 2006 1:08:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Salvelinus said ( Saturday, May 20, 2006 1:08:16 AM ) --

>>>>Larry, how doltish can you be? Of course the term creation science was around before Edwards! Edwards vs. Aguillard is the case that ended the charade. The term had to be around before you can have a Supreme Court hearing!<<<<<

Before you start calling me names, let's go back to the statement I was responding to:

If it weren't for the First Amendment and Supreme Court rulings [i.e., Edwards] based on it, neither "Creation Science" or "Intelligent Design" would exist. -- posted by Anonymous ( Thursday, May 18, 2006 8:27:03 AM )

So if "creation science" is a response to the Edwards decision, as the preceding statement asserts, then how could "creation science" have pre-dated Edwards?

Saturday, May 20, 2006 3:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I spent a lot of time researching my last response to you, and all you can say is "liar"?

If one word gets the job done, why bother with a longer post?

Saturday, May 20, 2006 6:07:00 PM  
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Saturday, July 22, 2006 12:34:00 AM  
Anonymous James Hanleyh said...

You say you did a lot of research in your responses. But did you research the changes in the "Of Pandas and People" textbook? The one where they successively changed all the references from "creationism" to "intelligent design"?

Very simply, intelligent design/creationism/creation science (whichever term you want to use, because they all refer to the same thing) is not science because it does not allow for the proposal of testable hypotheses. Evolutionary theory has led to countless hypotheses that have been tested (and some, as is to be expected in science, have turned out to be inaccurate hypotheses--but hypotheses that get falsified don't get published).

Evolutionary theory says nothing about the existence of God--as Kenneth Miller repeatedly points out--so I still cannot understand why anyone gets so freaked out about it. Just accept the science--reject the ID--and spend your time contemplaying why God chose to do things this way, instead of spending your time challenging the scientific evidence of the world God created.

Oh, and while I can accept that you challenge evolution, the intro to your web site suggests its ok to challenge the holocaust? That's just plain evil--God will have some words with you about that some day.

Saturday, March 03, 2007 7:24:00 PM  

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