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.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Is the party almost over for ACLU and AUSCS?

Gigantic rip-offs and blackmail by the ACLU and the AUSCS (Americans United for Separation of Church and State) in establishment-clause lawsuits and threats of lawsuits may soon be things of the past. A Congressional bill to bar attorney fee awards in establishment-clause lawsuits has been gaining steam.

The Darwinists, while shedding crocodile tears over the $1 million attorney fee award's great burden upon the Dover Area school district, have been exploiting this award as an example for the purpose of intimidating school boards and state legislatures that wish to add any criticism of evolution to public school curricula. Furthermore, the Darwinists have been abusing the establishment clause as a means of suppressing scientific ideas that they don't like.

IMO, while some establishment-clause lawsuits may be justified, many others are not. For example, the ACLU has threatened to sue over a tiny cross in the Los Angeles County seal. This cross, displayed along with the Hollywood Bowl bandshell, could be interpreted as symbolizing the Easter sunrise services at the Bowl, but could also be interpreted as symbolizing the role that the Spanish missions played in the history of the county. The cross has a legitimate secular purpose as a historical symbol and is not large enough to make non-Christians feel like outsiders. It would be impractical to purge our public sphere of everything with religious connections, even if we wanted to do it -- for example, our secular calendar and 7-day week are religious in origin.

If the bill passes, establishment-clause lawsuits are likely to continue but will probably be much more modest in nature. The cost-no-object Kitzmiller v. Dover lawsuit was a veritable orgy of extravagance, with 9-10 plaintiffs' attorneys of record and at least five of them in the courtroom on every day of a six-week trial. The previous Dover school board members have been made into scapegoats for the extravagances of the ACLU et al..

By seeking exorbitant attorney fee awards, the ACLU and the AUSCS may soon find that they killed the goose that laid the golden eggs.

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21 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

While some establishment-clause lawsuits may be justified, many others are not.

Who are you to decide?

Thursday, May 11, 2006 3:12:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said...

>>>>>While some establishment-clause lawsuits may be justified, many others are not.

Who are you to decide?<<<<<<

I added "IMO" to my above sentence. Happy now?

If that was the only fault that you could find with my post, I would say that I am doing pretty good.

Thursday, May 11, 2006 3:31:00 PM  
Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

Seeing as it never gained any traction the last 4 Congresses, it doesn't have a companion bill in the Senate, and no action has been taken on it in almost a year, I don't really feel threatened by it. It's been languishing in committee for 8 or 9 years now!

By the way, the 7-day week predates Judeo-Christian influence. It just happened to dove-tail nicely. It is generally regarded by serious scholars as related to astronomical phenomena. The fact that it propogated through the world so thoroughly is related to religion, of course.

Thursday, May 11, 2006 4:53:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Hyland said...

"The Darwinists, while shedding crocodile tears over the $1 million attorney fee award's great burden upon the Dover Area school district, have been exploiting this award as an example for the purpose of intimidating school boards and state legislatures that wish to add any criticism of evolution to public school curricula." I was under the impression that the problem with the Dover school board was the promotion of ID as a viable alternative. What would you read out in a school statement as a valid criticism of evolution that highschool students could understand.

Thursday, May 11, 2006 5:49:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Chris Hyland said ( 5/11/2006 05:49:33 PM ) --

>>>>>>>>
"The Darwinists, while shedding crocodile tears over the $1 million attorney fee award's great burden upon the Dover Area school district, have been exploiting this award as an example for the purpose of intimidating school boards and state legislatures that wish to add any criticism of evolution to public school curricula."

I was under the impression that the problem with the Dover school board was the promotion of ID as a viable alternative. What would you read out in a school statement as a valid criticism of evolution that highschool students could understand.
>>>>>>>>>>

The textbook stickers in the Selman v. Cobb County case did not promote anything as a "viable alternative" to evolution theory, but these stickers were also banned (however, it appears that there is a good chance that the Selman decision will be reversed). The Ohio evolution lesson plan did not promote anything as a viable alternative, but was deleted because of an unfounded fear of a lawsuit in the wake of the Dover decision.

Personally, I think that ID and irreducible complexity should just be presented as criticisms of evolution theory rather than as alternatives.

Thursday, May 11, 2006 7:59:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Sorry, folks, I had the wrong URL link connected to the phrase "Congressional bill to bar attorney fee awards" -- I have corrected the problem.

Thursday, May 11, 2006 8:12:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Actually, almost all of the symbols on the Los Angeles County seal are now historical. The fish in the lower left corner represents the tuna canning industry, now completely gone. The cow in the lower right corner represents agriculture -- Los Angeles County was once a major agricultural county, but agriculture is practically all gone now. As for the oil derrick in the upper right -- places like Signal Hill and Venice were once thick with oil wells, but very few producing wells are left in the county. As for the drafting instruments in the upper left -- Los Angeles County was once the largest center for auto production west of the Mississippi, all gone now; in the 1950's, the great majority of the world's airliners were produced in L.A. county -- that and most of the aerospace industry are all gone now. The sailing ship of course disappeared a long time ago. The Hollywood Bowl bandshell and cross -- the cross perhaps representing the Easter sunrise services at the Bowl -- are the only modern symbols !

Thursday, May 11, 2006 8:35:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

W. Kevin Vicklund said...

>>>>>>Seeing as it never gained any traction the last 4 Congresses, it doesn't have a companion bill in the Senate, and no action has been taken on it in almost a year, I don't really feel threatened by it. It's been languishing in committee for 8 or 9 years now!<<<<<<

That does not mean that the ACLU and the AUSCS should push their luck!

Thursday, May 11, 2006 10:43:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Hyland said...

"The textbook stickers in the Selman v. Cobb County case did not promote anything as a "viable alternative" to evolution theory"

Didn't they specifically single out evolution as opposed to other theories though?

"Personally, I think that ID and irreducible complexity should just be presented as criticisms of evolution theory rather than as alternatives."

My problem with that is that I have not seen an ID or IC argument that isn't some variant of 'we don't know how it evolved therefore inferring it did is wrong'. I was taught in high school that we have no idea how the flagellum evolved, I see no problem with that, but it is wrong to say that this makes us question evolutionary theory. What needs to be done is that students need to be taught early on about the scientific method, and that all scientif theories are just theories. There are a lot of theories that we are taught that have have less supporting evidence than evolution.

Friday, May 12, 2006 3:13:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Chris Hyland said ( 5/12/2006 03:13:09 AM ) --

>>>>>"The textbook stickers in the Selman v. Cobb County case did not promote anything as a "viable alternative" to evolution theory"

Didn't they specifically single out evolution as opposed to other theories though?<<<<<

Well, maybe evolution deserves to be singled out. And I don't see how singling out evolution violates the establishment clause.

>>>>>"Personally, I think that ID and irreducible complexity should just be presented as criticisms of evolution theory rather than as alternatives."

My problem with that is that I have not seen an ID or IC argument that isn't some variant of 'we don't know how it evolved therefore inferring it did is wrong'.<<<<<<

All challenges to evolution theory are like that. The non-ID challenges that I have presented on this blog (concerning co-evolution, chromosome counts, and propagability of beneficial mutations) are like that. So should all challenges to evolution theory be banned?

>>>>>There are a lot of theories that we are taught that have have less supporting evidence than evolution<<<<<

Not many.

Friday, May 12, 2006 5:06:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Hyland said...

"Well, maybe evolution deserves to be singled out. And I don't see how singling out evolution violates the establishment clause."

Isn't the point that school boards can be proved to specifically single out evolution for religious reasons.

"Not many"

There are quite a few, especially in physics. Theres the problems reconciling quantum theory and gravity, or the problems with big-bang theory, or the fact that the predicted Higgs Boson has yet to be detected. These things are not suitable however for discussion in high school. I have not seen a 'challenge' to evolution that I would call a challenge in the scientific sense, ie something that contradicts the theory. Statements like 'there are gaps' etc are true of most theories.

Friday, May 12, 2006 5:36:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Chris Hyland said --

>>>>>"Well, maybe evolution deserves to be singled out. And I don't see how singling out evolution violates the establishment clause."

Isn't the point that school boards can be proved to specifically single out evolution for religious reasons.<<<<<<

The textbook stickers did not mention anything connected to religion or contain any religious symbols. To my knowledge, the courts had never before declared such a thing to be a government endorsement of religion.

Also, the alleged religious purpose of the stickers is speculative and subjective. The stickers arguably have a legitimate secular purpose -- to point out that evolution theory is flawed. The judge even ruled that the stickers' effect of reducing offense to the religious sensibilities of some students is a legitimate government purpose.

>>>>>I have not seen a 'challenge' to evolution that I would call a challenge in the scientific sense, ie something that contradicts the theory.<<<<<<

I disagree. I think that ID and the non-ID challenges to evolution theory that have been presented in this blog scientifically contradict the Darwinian idea of an evolutionary process that was driven solely by natural genetic variation and natural selection, by showing that such an evolutionary process was very unlikely.

Friday, May 12, 2006 7:20:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Hyland said...

They don't contradict modern evolutionary biology thats the point. ID at best says that we don't know everything.

Friday, May 12, 2006 8:37:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Chris Hyland said...

>>>>>They don't contradict modern evolutionary biology thats the point. ID at best says that we don't know everything.<<<<<

What is wrong with saying that "we don't know everything"? Isn't that true?

Anyway, I think that ID and the non-ID challenges do contradict evolutionary biology by tending to show that it was unlikely that evolution was driven solely by natural genetic variation and natural selection. The bottom line is whether discussing these things in public-school science classes constitutes an establishment-clause violation. I like that quote of Thomas More in the play, "A Man for All Seasons" : "The world must construe according to its wits. This court must construe according to the law."

Friday, May 12, 2006 9:23:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Hyland said...

"What is wrong with saying that "we don't know everything"? Isn't that true?" It is indeed true, and it is taught in science class.

What we actually teach about evolution is a gross oversimplification. The same way that some of the thing I was taught about physics would seem laughable to a physicist. There are also many thing that people are taught that I disagree with, and if people just wanted to clear up the problems I would be fine with that. But everything I have heard from the ID crowd so far is religiously motivated and innacurate in its conclusions.

Friday, May 12, 2006 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Chris Hyland said ( Friday, May 12, 2006 10:44:19 AM )

>>>>>What we actually teach about evolution is a gross oversimplification. <<<<<

Of course it is oversimplified. Teaching the details of evolution theory would expose its many flaws.

>>>>>.... everything I have heard from the ID crowd so far is religiously motivated and innacurate in its conclusions.<<<<<<

That's ridiculous.

Saturday, May 13, 2006 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Hyland said...

"Of course it is oversimplified. Teaching the details of evolution theory would expose its many flaws."

No it's the same reason I didn't learn quantum physics in high school.

"That's ridiculous"

Could you point me to some that has good valid scientific conclusions.

ps I have read darwins black box and no free lunch, they don't.

Saturday, May 13, 2006 1:14:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Chris Hyland said ( 5/13/2006 01:14:09 PM ) --

>>>>"Of course it is oversimplified. Teaching the details of evolution theory would expose its many flaws."

No it's the same reason I didn't learn quantum physics in high school.<<<<<

I never studied quantum physics, so I cannot comment on your analogy between physics and evolution theory.

Evolution theory seems plausible enough when described in broad general terms like "random mutations" and "natural selection." The questions start arising when looking at the nitty-gritty details, e.g., irreducible complexity, chromosome counts, and the mechanisms of co-evolution and the propagation of beneficial mutations in sexual reproduction.

>>>>>"That's ridiculous"

Could you point me to some that has good valid scientific conclusions.

ps I have read darwins black box and no free lunch, they don't. <<<<<

Well, I have not read those two books. I really do not have sufficient knowledge about ID to discuss the subject at this level. Most of what I know about ID I have put in my post and comments under the title "Views on Intelligent Design" on this blog. I have concentrated instead on legal issues and non-ID challenges to evolution theory (I figure that the challengers of evolution theory have put too many eggs in the ID basket). I can't spread myself too thin.

BTW, the former Dover school board members would have done much better in supporting their claim that the ID policy had a legitimate secular purpose if they had shown in court that they knew anything at all about ID and irreducible complexity. Instead they made complete fools of themselves. Former board member William Buckingham showed that one year after he introduced the ID policy he still did not have the foggiest idea what ID is. Referring to an earlier deposition, he told the attorney who was questioning him, "I don't know what you said you thought I knew," or something like that. Reminds me of the title of Art Buchwald's book spoofing government shenanigans: "I Think I Don't Remember."

Saturday, May 13, 2006 2:25:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Hyland said...

"BTW, the former Dover school board members would have done much better in supporting their claim that the ID policy had a legitimate secular purpose if they had shown in court that they knew anything at all about ID and irreducible complexity."

I agree, but I think that is the problem. The vast majority of the people who want ID taught in schools do so for religious reasons. The only way that they will convince any judge they have a legitimate secular purpose is to do the science. If there are indeed problems with evolution then the science class is not the appropriate place to discuss them, the same way it is not the place to discuss the problems reconciling quantum physics with gravity. Having said that I do think a lot of what is taught on the subject needs updating.

Saturday, May 13, 2006 3:40:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Chris Hyland said ( 5/13/2006 03:40:54 PM ) --

>>>>>>>"BTW, the former Dover school board members would have done much better in supporting their claim that the ID policy had a legitimate secular purpose if they had shown in court that they knew anything at all about ID and irreducible complexity."

I agree, but I think that is the problem. The vast majority of the people who want ID taught in schools do so for religious reasons.<<<<<<

But it is wrong to dismiss ID out of hand just because some people support it just for religious reasons.

>>>>>> If there are indeed problems with evolution then the science class is not the appropriate place to discuss them, the same way it is not the place to discuss the problems reconciling quantum physics with gravity. <<<<<<

Why not? Aren't those problems of reconciling quantum physics with gravity (I'll take your word for it that such problems exist -- I am not aware of them) at least taught at the collegiate and postgraduate level? And what would be wrong with teaching about these problems in high school, except that they may be above the students' level? Why must students be taught only established science? What is wrong with teaching them about controversies in science? You seem to have some very arbitrary rules about what should and should not be taught in science classes.

Saturday, May 13, 2006 7:54:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Hyland said...

"But it is wrong to dismiss ID out of hand just because some people support it just for religious reasons."

I agree, I dismiss it for scientific reasons, but I do not want it taught in school if it is being used as an excuse to get religion in science classes.

"And what would be wrong with teaching about these problems in high school"

Because you would have to teach children to a level that is innapropriate for high school. Then again I was taught about IC but not in name at about 17-18, becuase it is a good way to introduce things like co-option, redundancy etc.

"Why must students be taught only established science?"

Cold fusion to my knowledge isn't taught in high-school as anything more than a passing mention even though there are hundreds of papers on it in the literature. The science lab and the university are the place to sort out these problems. You must be able to appreciate that ideas only shared by a handful of people in the relevant field with no published original research are not suitable for the classroom.

Sunday, May 14, 2006 2:35:00 AM  

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