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.

Friday, February 23, 2007

More "Monkey Girl" business

My copy of the book "Monkey Girl", by Edward Humes, has arrived. Part of my review here will discuss the negative review in the Wall Street Journal.

There is no question that the book is rabidly pro-Darwinist. Instead of merely presenting the pro-and-con arguments and letting the readers decide for themselves, the book flatly states,

Jones concluded -- correctly -- that the evidence in favor of evolution is convincing and compelling, and that the counterarguments are far less so (page 340) . . . . . .
Arguably, evolution has been more rigorously tested, and enjoys more evidence in its support, than any other theory in the history of science. (page 346)

Expert critics of the Kitzmiller v. Dover decision are unfortunately underrepresented in the acknowledgments in the "Preface and Acknowledgments," but Humes is not entirely and maybe not even partly to blame for that -- as I have pointed out, Discovery Institute's Casey Luskin, one of the most prominent expert critics, inexcusably rejected Humes' request for a full interview, and I don't know if any other expert critics refused a full interview. The only expert critics I know in the list of interviewees are scientist Michael Behe, Kansas Board of Education member Steve Abrams (a veterinarian), Philip Johnson (one of the founders of the ID movement), and lead defense attorney Richard Thompson from the Thomas More Law Center (the TMLC website has not commented on the decision since the day after it was issued). In contrast, 9 expert supporters of the decision are listed. Several plaintiffs and defendants are listed, but I have seen no evidence that any of them are experts on the scientific and legal questions involved. A local news reporter is also listed. As mentioned before, Judge Jones was interviewed, and so he is listed. Because expert critics Casey Luskin, William Dembski, and John West are all not in the list of interviewees, the book is probably less balanced and less accurate than it otherwise might have been.

The last chapter and the epilogue, which discuss the aftermath of the decision, do not acknowledge that a lot of the criticism of the decision is legitimate and paint Judge Jones as a martyr who has been subjected to death threats and who is fighting for judicial independence. For example, Humes offers no answer to the following criticism of the decision:

"Judge Jones found that the Dover board violated the Establishment Clause because it acted from religious motives. That should have been the end of the case," said John West, associate director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. "Instead, Judge Jones got on his soapbox to offer his own views of science, religion, and evolution. He makes it clear that he wants his place in history as the judge who issued a definitive decision about intelligent design. This is an activist judge who has delusions of grandeur."(page 336)

The mere fact that Judge Jones immodestly showed absolutely no reluctance to try to impose on the entire country -- and maybe the entire world -- his own dogmatic personal views about controversial and often unanswerable metaphysical questions strongly suggests that he was biased. There is other evidence that Jones was biased, e.g.: (1) his commencement speech at Dickinson College showed hostility towards organized religions by essentially saying that they are not "true" religions; and (2) the opinion's ID-as-science section was virtually entirely copied from the plaintiffs' opening post-trial brief while ignoring the defendants' opening post-trial brief and the plaintiffs' and defendants' answering post-trial briefs.

Also, the book says of the Discovery Institute's book Traipsing into Evolution,

Jones is attacked for "conflating ID with fundamentalism," and after making this accusation, the book excoriates him by offering extensive information about how the intelligent design movement has nothing at all to do with Christian fundamentalism . . . the truth is that nowhere in Jones' opinion does he conflate intelligent design with fundamentalism. The Discovery Institute just made this up. (page 343)

For crying out loud*, one of the main purposes of the Kitzmiller opinion was to conflate intelligent design with fundamentalism.

The book review in the Wall Street Journal says, quoting the first page of the first chapter of the book (page 3),

Mr. Humes says that the Founding Fathers "adamantly fashioned a nation in which government and religion were never to interfere with each other" in part because of "learned deists" like "Jefferson and Franklin and Washington." As it happens, none of these men had a hand in writing the First Amendment, but even granting Mr. Humes's point about deist skepticism, the claim is overstated. The history of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause--along with its inconsistent interpretation by the Supreme Court--shows it to be far more complex than Mr. Humes allows.

So the Founders were not just "deists" but were "learned deists." For crying out loud*, I wonder where in hell some people got this cockamamie idea that the Founders were a bunch of full-time professional philosophers like Voltaire and Rousseau. Wikipedia says of the delegates at the Constitutional Convention,

There were thirty-two lawyers, eleven merchants, four politicians, two military men, two doctors, two teacher/educators, one inventor, and one farmer. The Convention was mostly made up of Christian faiths including Congregationalist, Dutch Reformed, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Quaker, and Roman Catholic. Also a few Deists were in attendance.

Different "experts" have called the Founders nearly everything from a bunch of atheists to a bunch of bible-pounding fundies. Also, many people just plunge headfirst into debates about the religious beliefs of the Founders without ever questioning the dubious notion that those beliefs should govern our interpretations of the Constitution. As for deism, ironically one of the tenets of deism is the teleological argument of design!

The Wall Street Journal review also says,

Mr. Humes quotes a lot of people; at times, he even tells us what they were thinking. But these conversations and thoughts aren't footnoted, and there is no bibliography. We don't know whether he talked to the people he quotes or to people who talked to them, or drew from court records or newspaper accounts.

The end of the book does have 14 fine-print pages of notes about sources. Maybe better documentation would be called for in a scholarly book, but this book was intended for popular consumption.

Finally, this book appears to accept the "contrived dualism" of just two alternatives -- evolution theory and intelligent design. As I have pointed out many times, there are also non-ID criticisms of evolution, e.g., criticisms concerning co-evolution and the propagation of beneficial mutations in sexual reproduction. The Darwinists promote this "contrived dualism" idea more than the ID proponents do.

The controversy over the case may appear to be a tempest in a teapot. The Kitzmiller decision is, for crying out loud*, just an unappealed decision of a single federal district court judge. I am confident that I remember correctly that the 9th Circuit federal court of appeals once had a rule that no district court opinion could be cited in any court of the 9th Circuit, except of course in regard to res judicata or collateral estoppel involving the same parties and issues ( that is perfectly in character for the 9th Circuit -- the 9th Circuit was the leading opponent of the new federal court rule allowing citation of unpublished opinions ). Then I learned to my surprise that McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, which is also an unappealed district court decision concerning evolution education, is widely regarded as a landmark decision and has often been cited by the courts. McLean was cited in the Supreme Court case of Edwards v. Aguillard (footnote #10 of the opinion of the court) and the name of the case appears 28 (!) times in the Kitzmiller opinion. So I think that a big reason why the Kitzmiller decision has remained so controversial is that opponents of the decision are trying to discredit it (and appear to be succeeding, despite claims to the contrary) in the hope of discouraging other judges from citing it in other cases.

For more of my articles about "Monkey Girl," just click on the label. These labels are a great help -- they often save me the trouble of listing related articles and they even help me find articles.

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* I picked up the expression "for crying out loud" from "Fatheaded Ed" Brayton, the blogger on Dispatches from the Culture Wars. It's his trademark expression. I decided to look up its origin and I found that it is a "minced oath" that is a euphemism for "For Christ's sake." LOL In other words, it should be spelled, "For Chri-ing out loud." I'll be goldarned!

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16 Comments:

Anonymous peter irons said...

Larry, let me add a few belated comments about your earlier posts on Monkey Girl. You stated that I "boasted or bragged" that I had read all 6,000 pages of the Kitzmiller trial transcript, in preparing the chapter on the case for my forthcoming book, God on Trial. That was my educated estimate, from reading the entire transcript, and it turns out I was amazingly accurate. Also, about Casey Luskin's three-part whine about Humes's book on the Discovery Institute's website (which he concedes he hasn't even read): I agree that Casey "inexcusably" muffed his chance to present the DI's side of the story to Humes by granting an interview. Second, he claims that Humes "allowed" the LA Times to have a review copy. Authors don't send out review copies; publishers do, and they flood the media with review copies. Third, Casey insinuates that Humes "apparently chose" Kit Roane of US News & World Report to revew his book for the LA Times. Book review editors NEVER allow authors to "choose" a reviewer; if they tried it, their book wouldn't get reviewed. Finally, you doubt that Humes's publisher accepted the book on the basis of a proposal, rather than a complete manuscript. Actually, most authors with a track record submit proposals (through their agents) nd books are bought on the basis of a 10-12 page proposal. I've written 14 books, and all but my first were bought on the basis of proposals. Enough quibbling; let's find out what Casey thinks of Monkey Girl once he's actually read it.

Saturday, February 24, 2007 8:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Albatrossity said...

Larry

Aren't you a bit ashamed to post a "book review" when you haven't even read the whole book?????? It's possible that your opinions wouldn't attract such negative comments if you actually based them on facts and a little bit of research... For crying out loud, indeed!

Saturday, February 24, 2007 9:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Jim Sherwood said...

At last report Peter Irons was a member of the board of directors and executive committee of the ACLU, San Diego/Imperial Counties: according to the online Biography Resource Center.

Saturday, February 24, 2007 5:40:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Peter Irons said,
>>>>> Book review editors NEVER allow authors to "choose" a reviewer; if they tried it, their book wouldn't get reviewed. <<<<<

OK, but I see nothing wrong about authors suggesting reviewers.

>>>>>> most authors with a track record submit proposals (through their agents) nd books are bought on the basis of a 10-12 page proposal. <<<<<

Well, that sounds to me like buying a pig in a poke.

>>>>>> I've written 14 books, and all but my first were bought on the basis of proposals. <<<<<

You call one book a "track record"?

Saturday, February 24, 2007 6:04:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Jim Sherwood said...
>>>>> At last report Peter Irons was a member of the board of directors and executive committee of the ACLU, San Diego/Imperial Counties: according to the online Biography Resource Center. <<<<<<

Jim "Sherlock" Sherwood strikes again. I guess that your above discovery helps explain the following statements in Peter's Amazon.com review of the book:

As the author of a forthcoming book (Viking, May 17) on five recent legal cases that challenged religious symbols and practices in public parks, courthouses, and schools (God on Trial: Dispatches From America's Religious Battlefields), I included a chapter on the Dover case, and read the entire 6,000 pages of testimony in that trial. Ed Humes has made that trial come to life, with perceptive portraits of all the participants: plaintiffs, defendants, expert witnesses on both sides, and the federal judge, John E. Jones III, a Republican appointee of President Bush, who presided with amazing fairness and flashes of humor. (emphasis added)

The opponents of evolution are well-funded and determined, but the Dover case inflicted a blow from which they might not recover.

I am always willing to listen to what people have to say, regardless of their backgrounds. However, if Peter's above statements are any indication, I don't expect much from his new book's chapter on the Dover case.

Sunday, February 25, 2007 5:37:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Albatrossity said...

>>>>>> Aren't you a bit ashamed to post a "book review" when you haven't even read the whole book?????? <<<<<<

No, I'm not even a bit ashamed. I trashed the book "IBM and the Holocaust" on the basis of just the book's website -- which includes the book's introduction -- and reviews of the book by others. I didn't read a single word of any of the three Darwin-to-Hitler books that I discussed on this blog. When I wrote this post, I had read just Monkey Girl's prologue, last chapter, and epilogue -- I read the latter two sections because they discuss the trial's aftermath, which is of particular interest to me. I intend to read more of the book and post more comments about it later.

Sunday, February 25, 2007 9:27:00 AM  
Blogger peter irons said...

Larry,

My last three tries at commenting on your posts haven't gotten through, so I'll try one last time.

First, "Sherlock" Sherwood's sleuthing is out of date. I did serve on the San Diego ACLU board in the 1980s and early '90s, with two terms on the ACLU national board (boo, hiss!). So....? Does that disqualify me from reviewing Ed Humes's book? And what are Sherwood's (who's he?) memberships? Who cares?

Second, you and Casey Luskin are equally ignorant about the publishing business. Even suggesting a reviewer to a major book review is a non-no; authors will obviously suggest thir friends and supporters. Ask David Ulin, the LA Times ook editor, if you doubt me. Publishers are not buying pigs in a poke when they sign uthors with good track records (a Pulitzer prize helps). Every book contract contains an out if the manuscript doesn't meet the publisher's standards, which sometimes happens. Not to boast or brag (well, yeah, why not?), my first book, The New Deal Lawyers (Princeton University Press, 1982) won the biggest national prize in its field, which I guess was a good enough track record for editors who bought my later books.

Enough of this blather. Let's wait until you and Casey have finished reading Humes's book and then discuss its merits and demerits.

Sunday, February 25, 2007 9:29:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

peter irons said...
>>>>> Every book contract contains an out if the manuscript doesn't meet the publisher's standards, which sometimes happens. <<<<<

OK, that makes more sense.

>>>>> Let's wait until you and Casey have finished reading Humes's book and then discuss its merits and demerits. <<<<<

I am not going to wait. I see nothing wrong with commenting about a particular item in the book without having read the whole book. I feel that I am not quoting or interpreting something out of context if I take the nearby text into consideration.

Sunday, February 25, 2007 11:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Red Bayton said...

< I picked up the expression "for crying out loud" from "Fatheaded Ed" Brayton, the blogger on Dispatches from the Culture Wars. >

Imitation is the sincerest of flattery.

Sunday, February 25, 2007 9:52:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Red Bayton said...
>>>>> I picked up the expression "for crying out loud" from "Fatheaded Ed" Brayton, the blogger on Dispatches from the Culture Wars.<

Imitation is the sincerest of flattery. <<<<<<

It's mimicry, not imitation.

Sunday, February 25, 2007 11:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> OK, but I see nothing wrong about authors suggesting reviewers. <

Come on, Larry(?). Even you can't be that dense!

> Well, that sounds to me like buying a pig in a poke. <

That sounds like buying something with a great track record.

>>>>>> I've written 14 books, and all but my first were bought on the basis of proposals. <<<<<

> You call one book a "track record"? <

When did 14 become "one"? Or did you just misunderstand his simple sentence like you misunderstand nearly everything else?

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 8:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> I didn't read a single word of any of the three Darwin-to-Hitler books that I discussed on this blog.<

The clown admits it! No wonder he has such an unmatched record of failure.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 8:28:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

VIW said,
>>>>>> OK, but I see nothing wrong about authors suggesting reviewers. <

Come on, Larry(?). Even you can't be that dense! <<<<<

Who made this rule that authors can't suggest reviewers? I never thought I would see a book's website with a link to a website that severely criticizes the book, but I just did -- Edward Humes' "Monkey Girl" website gives a link to FortheKids' Reasonable Kansans blog:

A brief but revealing back-and-forth between opposing points of view on this Talk Radio Evolution theme can be found at Evolving Thoughts, while the creationist take from someone who calls herself ForTheKid can be found here.

>>>>>> "I've written 14 books, and all but my first were bought on the basis of proposals." <

>You call one book a "track record"? <

When did 14 become "one"? Or did you just misunderstand his simple sentence like you misunderstand nearly everything else? <<<<<<<

You stupid fathead, he indicated that at least one book proposal -- and maybe more -- was purchased just on the basis of his "track record" of one book.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 10:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

So, you pathetic moron. I suggested that you were so stupid as not to understand his statement and you went on to prove it!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 10:34:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice in the Wilderness said...

>>>>>> So, you pathetic moron. I suggested that you were so stupid as not to understand his statement and you went on to prove it! <<<<<<

You profoundly retarded nincompoop, Peter Irons said, "most authors with a track record submit proposals (through their agents) and books are bought on the basis of a 10-12 page proposal. I've written 14 books, and all but my first were bought on the basis of proposals." That means that the proposal of at least his second book -- and maybe more -- was bought on the basis of the "track record" of his first book. Peter later confirmed that conclusion by saying, "The New Deal Lawyers (Princeton University Press, 1982) won the biggest national prize in its field, which I guess was a good enough track record for editors who bought my later books." Sheeesh. You are just wasting my time with your breathtakingly inane comments. Under the Nazis' eugenics program which was inspired by the Darwinism that you so ardently support, you would have been sterilized as a mental defective.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 11:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

It wasn't enough for the dimwit to jump into the quicksand with both feet. Believing that he was not sinking fast enough, he has started digging.

Thursday, March 01, 2007 3:50:00 PM  

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