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, November 16, 2007

PBS NOVA omitted teachers' agreement to ID book

The Kitzmiller v. Dover opinion says,

On August 30, 2004, the Board Curriculum Committee met with Spahr, Miller, Nilsen, Baksa, Bonsell, Buckingham, Harkins, and Casey Brown with the principal subject of discussion being Pandas [Of Pandas and People] and how it would be used in the classroom. .Although Spahr expressed concern that the textbook taught ID, which she equated with creationism, Buckingham wanted Pandas to be used in the classroom as a comparison text side-by-side the standard biology textbook. Despite the fact that the teachers strongly opposed using Pandas as a companion text, they agreed that Pandas could be placed in the classroom as a reference text as a compromise with the Board. (citations omitted)

In the end, Of Pandas and People was not even placed in the classroom but was placed in the school library.

Here is the story as told by the "Judgment Day" TV program:
.
NARRATOR: Now, Buckingham was ready to take a stand.

ROB ESCHBACH: He came up with the ultimatum that the only way that they would vote for the textbooks, was that we adopted the book Of Pandas and People, as a sister or companion textbook.

But when he put it before the school board, he came up two votes short. The board chose to purchase only the standard biology book co-authored by Ken Miller.

Pandas was shelved.

NARRATOR: That might have been the end of the story, but a few weeks later, 60 copies of Pandas turned up in Bertha's Spahr's department—a gift to the school from an anonymous donor.

Then, without consulting the teachers, members of Buckingham's curriculum committee drafted the outlines of what became a bold new policy for the science department.

It was brought before the full school board for a vote, and after a heated debate, it passed six to three.

In its final form, the policy mandated that all students in ninth grade biology be read a one-minute statement telling them that Darwin's theory is not a fact and that it contains gaps.

Suggesting intelligent design as an alternative, it directed students to the 60 copies of Pandas that would be available as a reference.


Failing to mention that the Dover science teachers agreed to use Pandas as a reference text is a very serious omission by the "Judgment Day" TV program. If you think that this omission was just a little white lie, then look at the big stink that was made over Buckingham and Bonsell not being completely forthright about where they got the money to purchase the books.

The Dover science teachers, by refusing to read the ID statement informing the students that the book was available in the library, reneged on their agreement that the book could be used as a reference text.

By refusing to read the ID statement, the teachers made it obvious that they disagreed with it. So they could have read the statement and told their classes that they disagreed with it.

An alternative to scrapping the ID statement entirely would have been to modify it, e.g., by removing the term "intelligent design," which implies the existence of an intelligent designer.

Even with the one-minute ID statement, Darwinists had by far the better part of the bargain:

(1) Only Darwinism was actually taught.

(2) The board agreed to purchase a heavily pro-Darwinist biology textbook.
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14 Comments:

Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

Neither this, nor the ball scores were included in the Nova special because neither had any relevance to the case at hand.

Friday, November 16, 2007 4:01:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice in the Wilderness said...

>>>>>> Neither this, nor the ball scores were included in the Nova special because neither had any relevance to the case at hand. <<<<<<

If it is not relevant to the case at hand, then why was it discussed in the Kitzmiller opinion?

What was the relevance of where the money to buy the Pandas books came from, since the money was not tax money?

The teachers' reneging on their acceptance of Pandas showed their lack of good faith in bargaining with the school board. If the school board had anticipated the teachers' treachery, the board might have insisted on a main biology text that was very wimpy on Darwinism. The board was not trying to suppress the teaching of Darwinism but was trying to present some alternative views.

Friday, November 16, 2007 4:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The teachers' reneging on their acceptance of Pandas showed their lack of good faith in bargaining with the school board.

Not surprising in the least when one considers the board's effort to ramrod such a creationist text (which violated national science teacher standards BTW) into a science class. How about the good faith of the boardmembers who blatantly lied under oath in their attempt to violate the First Amendment? While looking for wrong doing on one side you're overlooking the greater wrong of the other, Larry. And betraying your bias...

The board was not trying to suppress the teaching of Darwinism but was trying to present some alternative views.

Which just happened to not be science, but rather religious belief, something in their own words certain boardmembers were trying to promote.

Friday, November 16, 2007 5:04:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>> How about the good faith of the boardmembers who blatantly lied under oath in their attempt to violate the First Amendment? <<<<<<

Two wrongs don't make a right. Also, in a later post, I will argue that charges that the board members lied were overblown.

>>>>> Which just happened to not be science, but rather religious belief, <<<<<<

The Supreme Court has ruled that there is no such thing as a complete separation of church and state. The endorsement test has the concepts of political "insiders" and political "outsiders." Assuming that intelligent design is a religious concept (and I am not conceding that it is), the one-minute ID statement served the purpose of making the fundies feel less like political outsiders. Hence, the ID statement is arguably constitutional.

Friday, November 16, 2007 8:14:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Also, regardless of whose fault was greater, the Dover teachers' agreement to accept the book as a reference text should have been noted in the program so that viewers could judge for themselves.

Friday, November 16, 2007 8:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Larry,

You are not making much, if any, sense.

Assuming that the teachers did agree to the language, it does not make it any less unconstitutional.

For nearly a hundred years, a large portion of the United States believed that it was okay to hold other human beings while others simply went along with the idea. That was followed by another hundred year in which a large majority of the country believing the separate was equal. Both of those things have been found to be unconstitutional and outlawed. That is the whole idea behind having a document, like the Constitution, that is largely unchanged. It provides guidance and wisdom as to what our country was based upon when society in general goes haywire.

It is clear that the school board intended to teach creationism and discredit evolution through rhetoric. If that was not their intent, why talk about the Panda book at all? Why not just state that evolution is not complete?


Second, Darwinism is not a belief system. It is not a belief of the teaching of Darwin just as Newtonian physics is not a belief of Newton. Heck, it is not even a scientific term. It was something that the creationists came up with to polarize the debate.

Darwin was an individual who proposed the evolutionary theory. That theory has been tested and retested and affirmed and reaffirmed by scientific data.

Third, ID is not science. All it does is to claim that evolution is not complete and therefore wrong. If that is the case, we would not have medicine, as we do not fully understand the workings of the human body... we would not have physics as we do not fully aware about how the universe works. A negative inference does not a science make.
BTW: Please provide me with some "scientific" evidence to support ID.

Friday, November 16, 2007 9:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> I will argue that charges that the board members lied were overblown. <

You may argue that the earth is flat. The bottom line is that the board members lied on a critical issue.

Friday, November 16, 2007 10:56:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous,

I showed that if Judge Jones had used the endorsement test instead of the Lemon test, he could have reasonably ruled that the Dover ID policy is constitutional.

Also, two other court decisions against evolution disclaimers, Selman v. Cobb County and Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish, came close to being overturned.

Saturday, November 17, 2007 3:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

> I showed that if Judge Jones had used the endorsement test instead of the Lemon test <

You showed nothing. You just made an unsupported statement, like always.

Saturday, November 17, 2007 6:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Larry,

You really have no idea what you are talking about.

1) the Endorsement test is not completely separate test from the Lemon Test, it is a further elaboration of the lemon test.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endorsement_test

2) Judge Jones employed both the Lemon and endorsement test in his decision in Dover. (pg 14-17.) I wonder if you actually read Judge Jone's decision or just taking talking points from the Creationists.

3) I have no idea why you would cite to either Selman or Feilman as evidence that the movement is toward allowing for having ID in the class.

They:

1) Predate the Dover decision and is cited by Judge Jones in his opinion.

2) Freiler was affirmed on appeal by the court of appeal and denied review by the Supreme Court. The fact that some judges wanted to the decision to be reviewed does not mean anything. Scalia also dissented in Aguilard but that case is now established precedent.

3) The Selman case was remand for additional fact finding by the 11th Circuit. The district like settled because it knew that it could not prevail. That is indicated by its payment of the plaintiffs' attorneys fees. The district (like that one in Dover) would be liable for plaintiffs' attorneys' fees only it lost. The district decided to cut its loss and only pay a portion of the fees rather than the whole thing.

I really think that you just take the ID talking point and reiterate them on your blog.

Also, your claim that the Dover school district was just trying to "present some alternative views" is also illogical. If assuming that evolution is "incomplete", you cannot present an alternative that is not scientific or proven in nature. ID is unsupported by science and unproven by evidence. It simply tries to shoot holes into Evolution. That is not science, that is just criticism.

I am still waiting for you to respond to the issues raised in my previous posting...

Saturday, November 17, 2007 8:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Hector said...

> You really have no idea what you are talking about.<

Does he ever?

Saturday, November 17, 2007 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> 1) the Endorsement test is not completely separate test from the Lemon Test, it is a further elaboration of the lemon test.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endorsement_test <<<<<<

You obviously regard Wickedpedia as a reliable source, so let us see what it says about the Lemon test:

Lemon's future is somewhat uncertain. Sustained criticism by conservative Justices such as Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, lack of a clear reaffirmation of the central tenets of Lemon over the years since the 1980s, and inconsistent application in major Establishment Clause cases has led some legal commentators and lower court judges to believe that Lemon's days are numbered, and that the Court has implicitly left the decision of whether to apply the test in a specific case up to lower courts. This has resulted in a patchwork pattern of enforcement in circuit courts across the nation; while some courts apply Lemon in all or most cases, others apply it in few or none.(emphasis added)

So if the Lemon test is scrapped, then the endorsement test can stand alone.

>>>>>>2) Judge Jones employed both the Lemon and endorsement test in his decision in Dover. (pg 14-17.) <<<<<<

Yes, I knew that, but I don't think that Jones applied the endorsement test correctly. My opinion about the correct application of the endorsement test in Kitzmiller is in this long comment on the Reasonable Kansans blog.

>>>>>> I wonder if you actually read Judge Jone's decision or just taking talking points from the Creationists. <<<<<<

Bozo, if you think that I have not thoroughly investigated the Kitzmiller case, I invite you to read the dozens of articles I have written about it and related issues. See the post label list in the sidebar.

>>>>> 3) I have no idea why you would cite to either Selman or Feilman [Freiler] as evidence that the movement is toward allowing for having ID in the class. <<<<<

These two cases are evidence that the movement is towards allowing evolution disclaimers.

>>>>> They:

1) Predate the Dover decision and is cited by Judge Jones in his opinion. <<<<<

Jones' citation of Selman is now worthless because Selman was vacated and settled out of court.

>>>>>> 2) Freiler was affirmed on appeal by the court of appeal and denied review by the Supreme Court. The fact that some judges wanted to the decision to be reviewed does not mean anything. <<<<<

On the contrary, it means quite a bit. Freiler came within a single vote of getting an en banc (full court) appeals court review and within one vote of getting Supreme Court review (four votes are required to get Supreme Court review).

>>>>>> Scalia also dissented in Aguilard but that case is now established precedent. <<<<<<

Roe v. Wade is now established precedent too but there are big fights over the abortion issue when federal court nominations come up.

>>>>>> 3) The Selman case was remand for additional fact finding by the 11th Circuit. <<<<<

"Additional fact finding"? The case was remanded because the evidence that was the basis for the decision was missing.

>>>>>The district like settled because it knew that it could not prevail. <<<<<<

Wrong. The school board obviously took a dive. In an oral hearing, the appeals court judges indicated that they were leaning towards reversal for reasons having nothing to do with the missing evidence. I made this all very clear in the posts that I linked to in my last comment. You are obviously not bothering to read my links.

>>>>> If assuming that evolution is "incomplete", you cannot present an alternative that is not scientific or proven in nature. <<<<<

I assert that under the endorsement test, the Dover ID statement is constitutional even if ID is religious in nature. And as I have said, there is no constitutional separation of bad science and state.

>>>>>> It simply tries to shoot holes into Evolution. That is not science, that is just criticism. <<<<<<

On the PBS NOVA "Judgment Day" program, Phillip Johnson said, "If ev— evolution by natural selection is a scientific doctrine then the critique of that doctrine is a legitimate part of science as well."

>>>>>>>I am still waiting for you to respond to the issues raised in my previous posting... <<<<<<

Reminder: My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer

I didn't think that your previous post was worth answering here, but I will make a few answers.

>>>>>>>>Assuming that the teachers did agree to the language, it does not make it any less unconstitutional. <<<<<<<

The teachers did not agree to the language in the ID statement -- they did agree to accept "Of Pandas and People" as a reference text. I did not say that their agreement makes anything less unconstitutional or more constitutional -- I just wanted to set the record straight by pointing out that they made such an agreement. The school board agreed to a heavily pro-Darwinist main text in exchange for the teachers' acceptance of Pandas as a reference text. The teachers did not bargain in good faith. The Kitzmiller decision cannot excuse their reneging on that agreement, because the decision came later.

>>>>>> For nearly a hundred years, a large portion of the United States believed that it was okay to hold other human beings while others simply went along with the idea. That was followed by another hundred year in which a large majority of the country believing the separate was equal. Both of those things have been found to be unconstitutional and outlawed. That is the whole idea behind having a document, like the Constitution, that is largely unchanged. <<<<<<

Some of those things were outlawed by big changes in the Constitution -- the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments. Racial segregation was both upheld and struck down under the same provisions of the constitution. So all of this has nothing to do with having a Constitution that is "largely unchanged" (as I said, there have been some big changes to the Constitution).

>>>>>> It is clear that the school board intended to teach creationism and discredit evolution through rhetoric. <<<<<<

Wrong. Only Darwinism was actually taught.

>>>>>> Second, Darwinism is not a belief system. <<<<<<<

Darwinism is worse than just a belief system -- it is a cult with Darwin Day celebrations, "I love Darwin" knick-knacks, Darwinian birthday cakes, Lincoln-Darwin essay contests, etc..

>>>>>> A negative inference does not a science make. <<<<<<

When Edison was accused in not making progress in his efforts to develop a practical electric light, he answered, "I've made lots of progress -- I now know lots of things that won't work."

>>>>> Please provide me with some "scientific" evidence to support ID. <<<<<<

I have not specialized in ID -- in fact, I have specialized in non-ID criticisms of evolution. If you want to read about ID, I suggest books by Michael Behe (Darwin's Black Box, The Edge of Evolution), William Dembski (No Free Lunch, The Design Inference, etc.), and others. You can discuss these books on Amazon.com. You may need to purchase something from Amazon.com to participate in the discussions.

(Shut up, Hector)

Saturday, November 17, 2007 5:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in Suburbanness said...

< You obviously regard Wickedpedia as a reliable source ... >

Wikipedia is far from being a "reliable source" especially where controversial issues are involved. However, its self-correction mechanisms are much better than those of most sources.

Saturday, November 17, 2007 6:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

> Bozo, if you think that I have not thoroughly investigated the Kitzmiller case, I invite you to read the dozens of articles I have written about it and related issues. <

It is those articles that prove that you don't understand much of what you read.

> You are obviously not bothering to read my links. <

Often your links tend more to disprove your position than support it.

> I assert that under the endorsement test... <

And the rest of us assert the opposite. You will have to do more than just assert, followed by mindless repetition.

>>>>>>>I am still waiting for you to respond to the issues raised in my previous posting... <<<<<<

> Reminder: My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer <

They clearly are an inability to answer. Get off your high horse.

> Some of those things were outlawed by big changes in the Constitution -- the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments. Racial segregation was both upheld and struck down under the same provisions of the constitution. So all of this has nothing to do with having a Constitution that is "largely unchanged" (as I said, there have been some big changes to the Constitution). <

Amazing! For possibly the first time this year Larry has said something that is correct. Then again even a blind pig occasionally finds an acorn.

>>>>>> It is clear that the school board intended to teach creationism and discredit evolution through rhetoric. <<<<<<

> Wrong. Only Darwinism was actually taught. <

He didn't say what was actually taught. He commented on their clear intention. Again you have a reading problem.

>>>>>> A negative inference does not a science make. <<<<<<

> When Edison was accused in not making progress in his efforts to develop a practical electric light, he answered, "I've made lots of progress -- I now know lots of things that won't work."<

So you don't understand Edison either!

(Shut up, Hector)

Hector was right.

Saturday, November 17, 2007 11:17:00 PM  

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