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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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 16, 2007

Dover Ain't Over III -- update on Fundies v. UC (ACSI v. Stearns)

A Panda's Thumb article, ACSI v. Stearns, aka Wendell Bird vs. UC, reports that a lawsuit by Christian schools against the University of California is going to trial. Background information on this case is presented in "Dover Ain't Over" and "Dover Ain't Over II".

Wendell Bird is the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, so saying "Wendell Bird v. UC" is like saying "ACLU v. Dover" ( or even "Judge Jones v. Dover"). The Darwinists are very upset that the ACLU is widely regarded as the plaintiff in establishment clause lawsuits -- the Darwinists insist that the ACLU's mascots are the real plaintiffs. However, I presume that the plaintiffs in ACSI v. Stearns can afford to pay their way and are therefore not mascots, even if Bird and the other plaintiffs' attorneys are representing them for free (I don't know).

The following facts are noteworthy: (1) UC did not claim that students who used the Christian-school textbooks were not adequately prepared to study science at the college level, and (2) UC did not claim that anything was wrong with the science textbooks except for their religious viewpoint (one of the biology texts has a section on creationism but also has a section on evolution).

IMO this trial is about to repeat the same mistake that was made in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case: a "battle of the experts" and possibly a ruling on scientific issues. A post on this blog gives several reasons why the courts should try to avoid ruling on scientific issues. This is going to be just another of what the Edwards v. Aguillard opinion called a "Monday-morning" battle of the experts, i.e., testimony from experts who did not directly influence the actions which led to the lawsuit and which therefore cannot illuminate the motives of those who took those actions. Also, because this is a free exercise clause suit and not an establishment clause suit, it doesn't matter whether the challenged material in the science books is scientific or not or religious or not (actually, because this is a free exercise case, a ruling that tne material is religious might actually be to the advantage of the plaintiffs). Actually, most of the expert witnesses listed in the Panda's Thumb article are not scientists, and that is because many of the challenged textbooks are not science textbooks.

The Panda's Thumb article makes some criticisms of one of the biology books, though these criticisms are of no consequence in ACSI v. Stearns if UC did not raise them. For example, the article says,

Chapter 1 is botany, done in the way of old-fashioned Linnean taxonomy plus an ag- and industry-heavy “practical” view of plants.

Linnaean taxonomy is hardly "old-fashioned" -- it is still very popular, especially outside of paleontology, and has not been replaced by the newer evolution-based cladistic taxonomy. The Wikipedia article on Linnaean taxonomy says,

Though the Linnaean system has proven robust, expansion of knowledge has led to an expansion of the number of hierarchical levels within the system, increasing the administrative requirements of the system (see, for example, ICZN), though it remains the only extant working classification system at present that enjoys universal scientific acceptance.(emphasis added)

The Panda's Thumb article says,

Back to the “traditional” biology on p. 89:
The taxonomic work of Linnaeus was very successful. His basic system is still used today, although there is disagreement among taxonomists as to the number of kingdoms that exist, as Table 5.3 shows.

Table 5.3, by the way, asserts the the five-kingdom model of Plants, Animals, Protists, Fungi, and Monera is the “[s]ystem predominantly used today” (p. 90). If you believe that, I’ve got a covered bridge to sell you.
[I thought that the bridge for sale was supposed to be the Brooklyn Bridge, not a "covered" bridge.]

However, Wikipedia says,

Originally, Linnaeus established three kingdoms in his scheme, namely Plantae, Animalia and an additional group for minerals, which has long since been abandoned. Since then, various life forms have been moved into three new kingdoms: Monera, for prokaryotes (i.e., bacteria); Protista, for protozoans and most algae; and Fungi. This five kingdom scheme is still far from the phylogenetic ideal and has largely been supplanted in modern taxonomic work by a division into three domains: Bacteria and Archaea, which contain the prokaryotes, and Eukaryota, comprising the remaining forms. This change was precipitated by the discovery of the Archaea. These arrangements should not be seen as definitive. They are based on the genomes of the organisms; as knowledge on this increases, so will the categories change. (emphasis added)

So it looks like the fundy text's five-kingdom model might still be reasonable and has the advantage of some stability. When I was in high school in the early 1960's, we were taught the original "three"-kingdom scheme, actually a two-kingdom scheme because the "minerals" kingdom is obviously invalid -- so we were taught that there were just the animal and plant kingdoms.

The Panda's Thumb article faults the book for not giving the correct height of the world's tallest known tree -- but the article's Wikipedia citation for the correct height says that this tree was discovered in Summer 2006!

Panda's Thumb also reports that Michael Behe, the lead plaintiffs' expert witness at the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, is on the expert witness list for ACSI v. Stearns.
.

Labels: ,

9 Comments:

Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

Hopefully the court will be as wise as Judge Jones and it will discourage these frivolous suits.

UC has a right to require science classes as an entrance requirement. There is little enough knowledge of science in among the population today. Mythology should not be forced on them as a substitute.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007 8:23:00 AM  
Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

>>>The following facts are noteworthy: (1) UC did not claim that students who used the Christian-school textbooks were not adequately prepared to study science at the college level, and (2) UC did not claim that anything was wrong with the science textbooks except for their religious viewpoint (one of the biology texts had a section on creationism but also had a section on evolution).<<<

Those two "noteworthy" facts are also false. UC claimed that after review of the textbooks, it was likely they would not adequately prepare students for college-level science - after all, the standards that UC set up are what UC believes is necessary to properly prepare students for college courses. UC also outlined a number of the problems it had with the book in a public statement.

What is a true fact is that, even without examining the quality of the science in the textbooks, the textbooks fail one of the three cardinal requirements for all science courses. The second requirement is that science must be taught as an objective discipline. The textbooks claim that science must be subject to the teachings of the bible. This automatically disqualifies the course.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Cyberbully and pettifogger Kevin Vicklund says,
>>>>> Those two "noteworthy" facts are also false. UC claimed that after review of the textbooks, it was likely they would not adequately prepare students for college-level science - after all, the standards that UC set up are what UC believes is necessary to properly prepare students for college courses. UC also outlined a number of the problems it had with the book in a public statement. <<<<<<<

I've already answered all this stuff in the two previous posts that I linked to. Here is the relevant stuff from those posts (for links, go to the posts) --

An article titled "Should Some Students Be Denied College Entrance Because They Used These Textbooks?", by the Association of Christian Schools International, said the following about a meeting between UC personnel, Christian school personnel, and attorneys on both sides of the issue (page 3):


When asked whether poor college performance by students from religious schools prompted the rejection of the textbooks, UC representatives responded negatively. They also acknowledged that UC did not have any objective evidence that students from religious schools are deficient in science when they arrive for their freshman year of college .....

As the discussion continued about the biology books, it became evident that they were rejected because they appeared to state the perspective that the Bible is revelation and along with faith is more authoritative than the observations of science, especially if there were a conflict over a "factual scientific issue."


In an op-ed piece in the Decatur Daily, Charles Haynes, a senior fellow at the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Va., wrote,


Solely on academic grounds, the most problematic textbook may be the one used in biology. If UC can show that the text presents inaccurate or misleading science, then the university may have a legitimate basis for not accepting the course. If, however, the textbook presents the core information students need to know about biology, then the additional religious content should not disqualify the course. In other words, if the science itself is sound, then the fact that the authors promise to "put the Word of God first and science second" should be irrelevant in the university's decision.

A description of a 2004 meeting between UC personnel, Christian school personnel, and attorneys from both sides said the following:


As the discussion continued about the biology books, it became evident that they were rejected because they appeared to state the perspective that the Bible is revelation and along with faith is more authoritative than the observations of science, especially if there were a conflict over a "factual scientific issue." -- from Should Some Students Be Denied College Entrance Because They Used These Textbooks?", page 3

A Wall Street Journal article said,


The university sends out a form letter to any school that proposes to teach biology and physics using one of the two biggest Christian textbooks now in circulation. The courses that assign such books, the letter claims, will not be "consistent with the viewpoints and knowledge generally accepted in the scientific community." Students thus "may not be well prepared for success" in the university's science courses. Chris Patti, the university's general counsel, tells me that the textbooks have many "scientific errors" and the "biggest one is [the way they describe] evolution."

Such a statement is itself far from rigorous. The physics textbook is like any other -- with pure science in it -- except that a verse from Scripture stands at the head of each chapter. Barbara Sawrey, a chemistry professor at the San Diego campus, who advised the university on this matter, told Burt Carney, the school association's legal-affairs director, that the verse appearances alone were enough to disqualify the textbook. (Talk about biased.) [in original] As for the biology textbook, it is certainly true that it includes a presentation of creationism and intelligent design, but it presents evolution as well, straightforwardly.

Thursday, May 17, 2007 12:13:00 AM  
Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

Larry claims as fact:

>>>(1) UC did not claim that students who used the Christian-school textbooks were not adequately prepared to study science at the college level<<<

But an article Larry himself quotes states:

The university sends out a form letter to any school that proposes to teach biology and physics using one of the two biggest Christian textbooks now in circulation. ... Students thus "may not be well prepared for success" in the university's science courses. ...

This clearly contradicts Larry's claim.

Astute observers may have noticed the ellipses in my quote of the Wall Street Journal aticle (or is that an op-ed? Larry seems to think there's a huge difference that requires proper nomenclature). Don't worry; I left those out because they deal directly with Larry's second claim. So here's Larry's claim of fact and the rest of the WSJ paragraph:

>>>(2) UC did not claim that anything was wrong with the science textbooks except for their religious viewpoint (one of the biology texts had a section on creationism but also had a section on evolution).<<<

... The courses that assign such books, the letter claims, will not be "consistent with the viewpoints and knowledge generally accepted in the scientific community." ... Chris Patti, the university's general counsel, tells me that the textbooks have many "scientific errors" and the "biggest one is [the way they describe] evolution."

The very source that Larry cites, the very quote that Larry uses, proves that he is lying. Larry, do all of you dirty, rotten Clausists lie like you do?

Thursday, May 17, 2007 5:51:00 AM  
Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

Wanna talk about mascots, Larry? Try this on for size. The original course submission for the biology text was not from CC Murietta, the plaintiff school, but a different school in the ACSI system. But the original school declined to sue, so ACSI convinced Murietta to submit the same course - even though Murietta already had an approved biology course! Now that's a mascot.

Thursday, May 17, 2007 6:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Sp said...

^Murietta^Murrieta^

See also, http://www.murrieta.org/.

Thursday, May 17, 2007 10:20:00 AM  
Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

Sorry. Thanks for the correction.

Thursday, May 17, 2007 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Kevin said,
>>>>> The original course submission for the biology text was not from CC Murietta, the plaintiff school, but a different school in the ACSI system. But the original school declined to sue, so ACSI convinced Murietta to submit the same course - even though Murietta already had an approved biology course! <<<<<

CC Murrieta -- actually Calvary Chapel Christian School, at Murrieta, Calif. -- probably would have tried on its own to get UC accreditation for its Christian-oriented courses, for the simple reason that the school wants students who take those courses to be eligible for regular UC admission. Also, six Calvary Chapel students who want to be admitted to UC have joined the suit. The story is here.

The quote I like best from the textbooks is the following:

These statements are conclusions based on "supposed science." If the conclusions contradict the Word of God, the conclusions are wrong, no matter how many scientific facts may appear to back them.

Well, I feel that people are entitled to their opinions.

Thursday, May 17, 2007 1:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> If the conclusions contradict the Word of God, the conclusions are wrong, no matter how many scientific facts may appear to back them. <

They couldn't have backed UC's case any better. They demand that people keep a closed mind.

> Well, I feel that people are entitled to their opinions. <

Of course they are entitled to their opinions. They are not necessarily entitled to go to UC.

Monday, May 21, 2007 7:14:00 AM  

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