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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.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Absurd expert witness reports prepared for Selman v. Cobb County retrial

As previously reported, the Cobb County Board of Education shamelessly copped out and caved in by settling out of court with the plaintiffs in the Selman v. Cobb County case. However, three expert witness reports supporting the plaintiffs had already been prepared for a possible retrial. After the out-of-court settlement, the National Center for Science Education posted summaries of these reports and the reports themselves. Two of these reports were pretty bad, but the third, by Brian Alters, takes the cake. Here is NCSE's summary of Alters' report:

In his statement (PDF), Alters (a member of NCSE's board of directors) summarized, "The effect of the Sticker Policy will be to: (1) engender student misconceptions about evolution and the nature of science, (2) require science teachers to use poor pedagogy, (3) require science teachers to disregard findings of the scientific community, (4) require science teachers to disregard recommendations of their national professional science teacher associations, (5) contradict teachers' professional preparation and professional development, and (6) improperly prepare students for postsecondary science education at secular schools." (quote taken from page 3 of the report)

LOL. This guy really has a vivid imagination. That is "zealous advocacy" with a vengeance. Try to imagine that the following little evolution disclaimer could do all those things:

This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding. the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.

Alters forgot to mention that the stickers would also destroy the international technological competitiveness of the USA. Anyway, none of Alters' six above points has anything to do with the question of whether the sticker was constitutional. There is no constitutional separation of bad science education and state.

One would think that the NCSE would have quit while they were ahead rather than cause themselves unnecessary embarrassment by posting this drivel.

Alters was also an expert witness in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, so I checked his expert witness report in that trial for similarities to his report for the Selman case. Sure enough, page 2 of his Kitzmiller report has a list of points identical to the list above except that the first point above is absent.

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Herman Cummings said...

Pulling the Covers off Cobb County!!

Have you seen all the “critters come out of the woodwork”? They are all dancing in
the streets, celebrating another victory for evolution, and insanity. That “so called” victory for them was handed over by the Cobb County School Board in Georgia. They chose an ineffectual, inexperienced, and perhaps overpriced law firm to defend their "evolution sticker" case, which they did not take seriously enough. Both the board, and the law firm, had no idea what they were fighting against, nor how to defeat the opposing side.

The general public thinks that the Cobb County (GA) School Board truly tried to uphold the opinion of the 2300+ signatures within the county to have evolution disclaimer stickers put on their science books, gathered by Ms. Marjorie Rogers. However, that is not true. The board agreed to exclude expert testimony that would have proven in the first trial that there is another plausible explanation for the 600+ million year fossil record, giving way to three parents, and ignoring 2,300 parents. Doesn’t the majority rule?

The general public is also under the impression that the defense for the board used all available legal recourses in an attempt to win the case. However, the defense agreed to not use the line of questioning that would have proven that the exclusive teaching of evolution in public school is unconstitutional., and indeed was only one interpretation of the facts.

Why did the board pay the Brock Clay law firm $74,000? Did they want to win the case, or just put on a good show? Why did the board choose to "close their ears" to expert testimony and evidence, not knowing if it would help them or not? The truth is, that the Board didn't want to win the case, and has impeded the progress of other school boards that want to teach a more balanced approach to the history of ancient life forms.

Can the evolution monopoly in public schools be defeated in a court of law? Yes!! The Court of Appeals looked for evidence that warranted the verdict of the first trial. It didn't find any, and ordered additional supporting evidence, or a new trial.

What did the Cobb County School board do? First, they retained the same incompetent council. Second, they chose to pay out over $166,000 to the other side, rather than go through another trial, which they would win with the proper preparation. Third, they chose to back stab every other school board, by getting down on their knees, and capitulating to the ACLU, when the Board had superior forces on their side at the ready. And fourthly, they promised to never question evolution again. Is Cobb County going to let the minority and ACLU dictate the education curriculum?

Since they are going to make things worst (by non-action) for America, they should resign from office, and let Cobb County elect wiser officials with more vision. Cobb County residents should be suing them for gross incompetence, and have a "recall election", kicking those hypocrites out of office.

So who are the cowards? The school board, or the Cobb County residents that refuse to take action? If there is/was a retrial, it would be the ACLU running away with it’s tail between it’s legs.

Herman Cummings
PO Box 1745
Fortson GA, 31808-1745
Ephraim7@aol.com
(706) 662-2893

Saturday, January 06, 2007 6:34:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Herman Cummings said,
>>>>>> They are all dancing in the streets, celebrating another victory for evolution, and insanity. <<<<<<

Thanks for your comments, Herman.

I don't see what the Darwinists are crowing about. The Selman decision is absolutely worthless as a precedent because it was vacated.

>>>>>> They chose an ineffectual, inexperienced, and perhaps overpriced law firm to defend their "evolution sticker" case, which they did not take seriously enough. <<<<<<

I don't think that the law firm was overpriced -- the law firm represented the board in the appeals court for free and got the case vacated and remanded. I think that the law firm could be blamed, however, for not pointing out in the district court that (1) the evidence -- notably the petition -- was missing and (2) the petition was not even mentioned in the plantiffs' pretrial brief.

>>>>> the defense agreed to not use the line of questioning that would have proven that the exclusive teaching of evolution in public school is unconstitutional., <<<<<<

I don't think that it could be shown that the exclusive teaching of evolution in public schools is unconstitutional. Even if evolution could be shown to be bad science, there is no constitutional separation of bad science and state.

>>>>> Why did the board pay the Brock Clay law firm $74,000? <<<<<

The school board paid the law firm about $110,000.

>>>>> The truth is, that the Board didn't want to win the case, and has impeded the progress of other school boards that want to teach a more balanced approach to the history of ancient life forms. <<<<<<

The issue in these evolution disclaimer cases is not "teaching" criticism of Darwinism -- the issue is the mere mention of criticism of Darwinism.

Also, I think that at one time the board really wanted to win the case -- otherwise they would not have appealed.

>>>>> First, they retained the same incompetent council. <<<<<<

See comments above.

>>>>> Second, they chose to pay out over $166,000 to the other side, rather than go through another trial, which they would win with the proper preparation. Third, they chose to back stab every other school board, by getting down on their knees, and capitulating to the ACLU, when the Board had superior forces on their side at the ready. <<<<<<

I agree. I suspect that the board members were bribed to take a dive.

Saturday, January 06, 2007 4:29:00 PM  
Blogger captain howdy said...

It would not surprise me to learn the board's legal team quietly advised them to settle. The ACLU was assembling much of the Dover team for a re-trial here, and the board would've been murdered in any fair trial. If you want to talk about the board caving in, they caved to a slim minority of a couple thousand rapture bait on that petition out of a district representing 100K+ students.
The part I have a problem wrapping my head around about things like this is--Why put the stickers in all those texts to start with? I mean, what is so sinister about teaching biology in a way that most of the actual experts in the subject--you know, working biologists--would approve of? And make no mistake on that score--nearly all experts in the sciences consider common ancestry to be a closed issue. [Tapping on screen] Make up your mind, folks. You want your kids science literate when they graduate or not? All that money the board wasted with this. How many computers could've been bought? How many teachers hired?
So, for the cheap seats: The school board was playing 1st amendment games and the ACLU put them on a short leash. Those on that board that pursued these stickers should resign in disgrace.

Sunday, January 07, 2007 7:51:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

captain howdy said...
>>>>> It would not surprise me to learn the board's legal team quietly advised them to settle. <<<<<<

That would really astonish me, considering that the board's legal team represented the board in the appeals court for free and that the board was in an especially strong position, with the case vacated and remanded because of missing evidence that was not likely to be found and the appeals court judges showing during oral hearings that they were leaning towards reversing the decision.

>>>>>> The ACLU was assembling much of the Dover team for a re-trial here, and the board would've been murdered in any fair trial. <<<<<<

Wrong. As I showed, substantial differences between the Cobb County and Dover cases greatly favored the Cobb County defendants.

>>>>> If you want to talk about the board caving in, they caved to a slim minority of a couple thousand rapture bait on that petition out of a district representing 100K+ students. <<<<<

The petition was never found (I am talking about the one that was allegedly submitted to the board before the adoption of the stickers) and was not even mentioned in the plaintiffs' pretrial brief.

>>>>> The part I have a problem wrapping my head around about things like this is--Why put the stickers in all those texts to start with? <<<<<<<

The idea was to reduce offense to those who for various reasons disagree with Darwinism.

>>>>>>> And make no mistake on that score--nearly all experts in the sciences consider common ancestry to be a closed issue. <<<<<<

The issue was not common ancestry. Common ancestry isn't mentioned in the stickers. And prominent ID advocates Michael Behe and William Dembski accept common ancestry.

>>>>> You want your kids science literate when they graduate or not? <<<<<

This wasn't about not teaching Darwinism -- in fact, the school board adopted a strongly pro-Darwinist biology text when the stickers were adopted.

>>>>> All that money the board wasted with this. How many computers could've been bought? How many teachers hired? <<<<<<<

What the board spent was peanuts. Cobb County has a huge school district and at about $7000 per pupil per year, the cost of a $1 million lawsuit would run a single 20-pupil classroom for only about seven years. Furthermore, the board had already received free legal help and offers of more free legal help. Also, had the board won, it would not have had be pay the plaintiffs a dime instead of the $166K that the board paid the plaintiffs in the out-of-court settlement. Money should never have been an issue in the board's decisions about continuing to fight the case.

Sunday, January 07, 2007 9:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Pet Squirrel said...

"What the board spent was peanuts."

Are there any left?

Friday, January 12, 2007 6:31:00 PM  
Anonymous captain howdy said...

Hi again, Larry--

Thanks for taking the time to reply. Before I continue, I'd like to tell you that I appreciate your editorial policy of posting all comments, not just those you agree with.

I said--
"The ACLU was assembling much of the Dover team for a re-trial here, and the board would've been murdered in any fair trial."

and you replied--
"Wrong. As I showed, substantial differences between the Cobb County and Dover cases greatly favored the Cobb County defendants."

Couldn't have favored them too much. After all, the board was found to be in violation. Just because they were on more solid ground legally than the Dover board does not mean they were on solid ground.

I said--
"If you want to talk about the board caving in, they caved to a slim minority of a couple thousand rapture bait on that petition out of a district representing 100K+ students."

and you replied--
"The petition was never found...and was not even mentioned in the plaintiffs' pretrial brief."

As far as I know, neither side is denying that a petition was circulated by one Ms. Marjorie Rogers and signed by 2300 or so fundamentalist parents. The judge's order explicitly referred to the petition, so unless one of the sides is denying that a petition was circulated, then the fact that the actual petition itself was never found seems like nit-picking.

I said--
"The part I have a problem wrapping my head around about things like this is--Why put the stickers in all those texts to start with?"

and you replied--
"The idea was to reduce offense to those who for various reasons disagree with Darwinism."

Not 'for various reasons'. For religious reasons. That's the problem. The board spent thousands of dollars of taxpayer money to soothe the ruffled feathers of a few religious flat-earthers by inserting a sticker that is (1) factually wrong and (2) misleads the student by suggesting that evolution is on such shaky ground among the working experts in the field that a sticker is appropriate. The stickers misrepresent evolution solely to placate a few zealots, and that pretty much sums it up.

This isn't just abstract; the stickers were having an impact on education. From Selman v. Cobb:

"...the Sticker is impacting science instruction on evolution. Some students have pointed to the language an the Sticker to support arguments that evolution does not exist. (McCoy Trial Test.) In addition, Dr. McCoy testified that the Board's misuse of the word "theory" in the Sticker causes "confusion" in his science class and consequently requires him to spend significantly more time trying to distinguish "fact" and "theory" for his students."

This is probably what that handful of fundies really wanted to see. The whole sticker thing was bad policy and hopefully other school districts will be dissuaded from pulling such a stunt.

The Captain

Monday, January 15, 2007 8:38:00 AM  

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