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.

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.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Page view record broken

A recent visitor to this blog viewed an incredible 51 pages and spent nearly 4 hours. Anyone who does not believe this had better check my site statistics quickly, as the free Sitemeter service that I use lists only the 100 most recent visits. Just click on the Sitemeter icon at the bottom of the left-hand sidebar on the main (home) page and then click on "By Details" in the left-hand sidebar of the Sitemeter page. The previous record that I am aware of for this blog is 48 page views.

I urge the record holder to step forward and claim the trophy.

Also amazing is the high fraction of visits that have high page view numbers and/or long times -- I find this particularly surprising because I expect that more of the visits would be made just to check for new posts and/or comments or to link to another website. I estimate that between 1 in 10 and 1 in 20 of the visits have 10 or more page views and/or more than 1 hour. I have checked other blogs that have an open Sitemeter and they all look silly in comparison. I thought that maybe a lot of the high page view numbers could be the result of visitors checking my threads for new comments, since my blog service does not list the blog's most recent comments, but the visits with high page counts are usually accompanied by long visit times whereas it does not take long to check for new comments. Also, visitors generally do not spend a lot of time here writing comments because the comments lately have been infrequent and most of them have been short. However, I admit that one area where this blog is mediocre is in the numbers of visits per day.

I just couldn't resist tooting my own horn.

Yes, Voice in the Wilderness, we know -- they all come here just to laugh at what PZ Myers called "a bottomless pit of stupidity."


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Article about Darwin-to-Hitler issue

I decided to post this link to an article about the Darwin-to-Hitler issue because this article has a lot of good info and bears upon several posts in this blog.

I feel that the Darwinist idea of "survival of the fittest" or "natural selection" did not directly influence the Nazis' social policies because most of the people who were targeted by the Nazis were not physically or mentally unfit. Indeed, many of the first people who were targeted by the Nazis had high levels of mental and physical fitness. Jewish professionals were among the first victims of Nazi discrimination. In the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, two Jewish runners were pulled at the last minute from the USA's 400 meter relay team and were replaced by Jesse Owens and another black runner, even though blacks must have been lower than Jews on the Nazis' genetic totem-pole. I think that the main influence of Darwinism on Nazi policies towards Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, etc. was to create the idea -- through Social Darwinism and eugenics -- that it was morally OK to eliminate undesirables. Anyway, we are not going to learn anything about the Darwin-to-Hitler connection by burying our heads in the sand as the ADL's Abraham Foxman wants us to do. And "Fatheaded Ed" Brayton is of course trying to shift all of the blame to Christianity.

Related articles in Wikipedia:

Nazi eugenics

Racial policy of Nazi Germany

Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service

To see this blog's other articles about the Darwin-to-Hitler issue, just click on the label below.



Theistic evolutionism

Click here.


Could Kitzmiller decision backfire on Darwinists?

I previously reported on this blog that legal scholar Jay Wexler, despite being anti-ID, held the position that Judge Jones should not have ruled on the scientific merits of ID. Casey Luskin now reports that the First Amendment Law Review published a paper by Wexler that supports that position. The paper, titled, "Kitzmiller and the 'is it science?' question," appeared in the Fall 2006 issue, which was dedicated to the subject "Religion in the Public Schools." Significantly, of the seven articles in this issue, the titles of three pertain directly to intelligent design and Kitzmiller (two of the other articles pertain to the Pledge of Allegiance, which as everyone knows contains the words "under god"). Casey also reported that another article in the same journal, written by Kitzmiller plaintiffs' attorney Richard B. Katskee and titled "Why it mattered to Dover that intelligent design isn't science," "attacked Wexler with harsh ridicule for critiquing Judge Jones." The issue is called a "symposium edition," so apparently there was some symposium on the subject. Casey's following first quote of Wexler's paper is virtually identical to an abstract for Wexler's lecture on the subject:

The opinion's main flaw lies in the conclusion with which most ID opponents were particularly pleased -- namely, the judge's finding that ID is not science. I take this position, I hasten to add, not because I necessarily think that ID is science. As someone who is neither a scientist nor a philosopher of science, I do not know if ID is science. But the important issue for evaluating the decision is not whether ID actually is science -- a question that sounds in philosophy of science -- but rather whether judges should be deciding in their written opinions that ID is or is not science as a matter of law. On this question, I think the answer is "no," particularly when the overall question posed to a court is whether teaching ID endorses religion, not whether ID is or is not science. The part of Kitzmiller that finds ID not to be science is unnecessary, unconvincing, not particularly suited to the judicial role, and even perhaps dangerous both to science and to freedom of religion.

It is odd that Wexler concedes that ID might be scientific while he holds that it is unconstitutional to require teaching or even just mentioning it in public-school science classes (that unconstitutionality was the holding of the Kitzmiller decision, which Wexler supports). If ID is or might be scientific, then teaching or mentioning it in public-school science classes would have a legitimate secular purpose, a condition for making an exception to the establishment clause.

Casey's second quote of Wexler's paper says,

. . . if one judge can practice philosophy of science, what is to stop others from doing the same? Perhaps the next judge to hear an ID case will decide that science simply means "the process of searching for the best logical explanations for observed data." In that case, schools might be allowed to teach … ID… Is this really a can of worms that ID opponents want to open?

In Wexler's above statement, he appears to be concerned only about judges hearing other ID cases. But what about judges hearing cases concerning non-ID criticisms of evolution, such as criticisms concerning co-evolution and the propagation of beneficial mutations in sexual reproduction -- or even the Second Law of Thermodynamics? After all, the SLOT is not a religious concept, and it is a law, not just a theory. Also, the now-defunct Ohio critical analysis of evolution lesson plan contained some very specific non-ID criticisms of evolution. IMO it is noteworthy that the Darwinists kept threatening to sue Ohio but never did. Anyway, without design, there is no designer. No designer, no god. No god, no religion. No religion, no establishment clause violation.

Wexler's and Katskee's obsession with ID suggests that they believe in the "contrived dualism" idea that there are only two possibilities, evolution theory and ID, and that if one is wrong then the other must be right. The Darwinists hypocritically assert that this "contrived dualism" is an anti-Darwinist idea, but IMO the Darwinists harp on this idea much more than the anti-Darwinists do. After the Kitzmiller decision trashed ID, the Darwinists have been trying to put the "ID" label on all criticisms of Darwinism. In contrast, the fundies don't mind acknowledging the existence of non-ID criticisms of Darwinism because the fundies don't care why Darwinism is wrong so long as it is wrong. Apparently the Darwinists' propaganda campaign has brainwashed a lot of people into believing that such a dualism is actually true. BTW, the term "contrived dualism" was apparently coined by the McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education opinion to describe the false dichotomy between evolution theory and creationism.

Also, it is odd that Wexler suggested that ID could be one of the "best logical explanations for observed data." Darwinists in general have been arguing that ID is not logical at all.

Off-topic question: The Darwinists allege that Darwinism's advantage over ID is that Darwinism is scientific (testable, falsifiable, naturalistic, etc.) whereas ID is not. But what is the advantage of being scientific if Darwinism is wholly or partly wrong?

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Monday, February 26, 2007

My comment on Reasonable Kansans blog

I posted a long comment on the Reasonable Kansans blog and I think it is worth linking to here. The topics are the establishment clause, the Dover and Cobb County cases, and the "Monkey Girl" book.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

What happened to "random mutation"?

"Random mutation" has long been a basic part of evolution theory. However, an AOL news article reports a "molecular clock" theory of mutation:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Chimpanzees and humans split from a common ancestor just 4 million years ago -- a much shorter time than current estimates of 5 million to 7 million years ago, according to a study published on Friday.

The researchers compared the DNA of chimpanzees, humans and our next-closest ancestor, the gorilla, as well as orangutans.

They used a well-known type of calculation that had not been previously applied to genetics to come up with their own "molecular clock" estimate of when humans became uniquely human . . . . .

. . . . ."Primate evolution is a central topic in biology and much information can be obtained from DNA sequence data," Dr. Asger Hobolth of North Carolina State University said in a statement.

The theory of a molecular clock is based on the premise that all DNA mutates at a certain rate. It is not always a steady rate but it evens out over the millennia and can be used to track evolution.

Sounds a lot like John A. Davison's theory of "prescribed evolution."


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.


* 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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Thursday, February 22, 2007

New blog feature: post "labels" (categories)

I finally switched over to the new blogger.com version when I could no longer log onto the old version. I delayed switching over because (1) I was afraid of new username and password hassles and (2) I was informed that I could not switch back to the old version if I didn't like the new version.

One of the new features of the new blogger.com version is the post "labels" (categories), a common feature on other blog services. This new feature has great potential but has some serious flaws which I hope blogger.com will correct in the future. I have labeled most of the posts on this blog -- quite a task because there are about 300 of them. Below is a list of the labels that I have created so far, with the numbers of posts bearing each label:


Attorney fee awards (12)
Darwin-to-Hitler (13)
Ed Brayton (1 of 2) (13)
Ed Brayton (2 of 2) (13)
Establishment clause (8)
Evolution controversy (1 of 4) (14)
Evolution controversy (2 of 4) (14)
Evolution controversy (3 of 4) (14)
Evolution controversy (4 of 4) (15)
Evolution controversy abroad (15)
Grand Canyon's age (3)
Holocaust revisionism (1 of 2) (11)
Holocaust revisionism (2 of 2) (11)
Intelligent design (5)
Internet censorship (6)
Judge Jones (1 of 2) (19)
Judge Jones (2 of 2) (18)
Judicial independence (8)
Kansas controversy (13)
Kitzmiller v. Dover (1 of 2) (13)
Kitzmiller v. Dover (2 of 2) (13)
Monkey Girl (8)
Non-ID criticisms of evolution (5)
Ohio controversy (7)
PZ Myers (7)
Selman v. Cobb County (12)
Voter initiatives (5)

The reason for the (1 of 4), (2 of 4), etc. stuff is that I found that blogger.com will show a maximum of only 20 posts when a label is selected (please don't ask me why). BTW, I selected 15 as the number of posts shown on the main (home) page -- a really large number here would significantly slow down loading speed for those with dial-up connections. There is virtually no limit to the number of posts allowed on the monthly archive pages -- I have been averaging about 30 posts per month.

Most of the posts have only one label, which I considered to be the primary subject. So, for example, if you are looking for posts pertaining specifically to Judge Jones, you should list both the "Judge Jones" and "Kitzmiller v. Dover" categories, and if you are looking for all posts related to the Holocaust, you should list both the "Holocaust revisionism" and "Darwin-to-Hitler" categories.

I would like to post the above label list as a selectable list in the left sidebar of the main (home) page, but to do that would require switching from the "template" program to the "layout" program, but I find that when I do that I lose the Sitemeter feature, which I cannot install in the layout program because the coding is completely different than in the template program (I use a hidden dummy blog for experimentation so that I do not disrupt this blog). Also, the link list format in the layout program is bad -- there are no indentations or extra spacing to indicate the separations between the links (some of the links are two lines long). So I decided to stay in the template program, with the unfortunate result that the above list of labels may be hard to use. One way of using the above label list is to enter an appropriate keyword in the blog search window in the blog's upper border (you must be scrolled to the very top to see this window) and then click on the label when posts with that keyword appear. Where effective search keywords are not obvious in the above label list, I suggest the following: Attorney fee awards -- S 3696; Evolution controversy abroad -- UK; and Non-ID criticisms of evolution -- Co-evolution. Unfortunately, the blog search feature is again not working well, with many extraneous posts appearing in response to a search request.

Also, on the old version, one could browse through all the post titles on the blog by clicking repeatedly on the last post title in the list in the left-hand sidebar, but that cannot be done in the "template" program in the new version. The only way to browse through all of the post titles now is to use the monthly archive feature, where browsing is slower because it is necessary to scroll through text material of the posts (though browsing through this text material might be desired in some cases). However, with the layout program of the new blogger.com version, all of the post titles can be browsed in the left-hand sidebar.

I am very disappointed that the new blogger.com version does not have the feature that I wanted most: a list of the most recent comments posted anywhere on the blog. A nice new feature is that the comment copies that blogger.com emails to me identify the posts under which the comments were placed, but that feature does not do the readers any good.

Also, some important features -- like post "folding" (where part of the post is initially hidden) and the link list coding -- were not pre-installed but required the insertion of special coding into the template program. Apparently a lot of blogger.com bloggers are not even aware of the availability of the post-folding feature or do not want to go through the hassle of installing the coding (on blogger.com, this folding feature has the odd and inappropriate title "expandable post summaries" -- the visible text is often not a summary at all). With the same effort or even less effort, blogger.com could have done things right (if the post folding feature had been pre-installed, blogger.com would not have had to write instructions on how to install it). However, despite all these problems, this blog service, blogger.com, is free and so I should not look a gift horse in the mouth.

It is really nice having my own blog. One of the advantages is that when commenting elsewhere I can post links to this blog -- that greatly cuts down on the amount of new writing that I have to do.

BTW, my copy of "Monkey Girl" has arrived and I intend to make some comments about the book later.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Evolutionism called part of ancient Jewish religion

Update (02-19-07 @ 12:35 PM PST): More info is on Panda's Thumb.

An AOL news article says,

ATLANTA (AP) - A Jewish organization is demanding an apology from a Georgia legislator for a memo that says the teaching of evolution should be banned because it is a myth propagated by an ancient Jewish sect.

State Rep. Ben Bridges denies writing the memo, which attributes the Big Bang theory to Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism.

Bridges has long opposed the teaching of evolution in Georgia classrooms and has introduced legislation requiring only that "scientific fact" be taught.

Marshall Hall, president of the Fair Education Foundation, says the Republican lawmaker gave him approval to write the memo, which has been distributed to legislators in several states, including California and Texas.

The memo asks readers to challenge the "evolution monopoly in the schools" by logging onto Hall's anti-evolution Web site, www.fixedearth.com .

"Indisputable evidence - long hidden but now available to everyone - demonstrates conclusively that so-called 'secular evolution science' is the Big Bang, 15-billion-year, alternate 'creation scenario' of the Pharisee Religion," says the memo, which has Bridges' name on it. "This scenario is derived concept-for-concept from Rabbinic writings in the mystic 'holy book' Kabbala dating back at least two millennia."

The Anti-Defamation League sent a letter to Bridges on Thursday chastising him for the memo and demanding him to apologize.

"Your memo conjures up repugnant images of Judaism used for thousands of years to smear the Jewish people as cult-like and manipulative," wrote Bill Nigut, the league's Southeast regional director.

LOL -- there is kind of a poetic justice here because the ADL and some other Jewish groups have been among the most intolerant Darwinist groups, and as the saying goes, "what goes around comes around." Jewish groups have been pro-Darwinist plaintiffs, amici or cheerleaders in several court cases concerning evolution education; Judge Jones has spoken at ADL meetings on at least two occasions; and ADL national director Abraham Foxman vehemently denounced a TV program that linked Darwin to Hitler. On the other hand, some Jews, particularly Orthodox Jews, have strongly opposed Darwinism.

Also, HB 179, a bill introduced in Georgia by Rep. Bridges, says,

House Bill 179 calls for an end to all teaching of evolution-based “science” in tax supported education in the State of Georgia. It does so on precisely the same legal grounds that the Courts have consistently and correctly ruled against the teaching of creation-based “science”. It is now known that “evolution science’ is derived concept for concept from a “holy book” of a particular religion. Therefore, it too has a religious agenda and its status relevant to the “Establishment Clause” of the Constitution of the United States now begs to be re-considered by the Courts. . . .

. . . Included here is documentation which confirms that “evolution science” is NOT “secular science” as the Courts have viewed it to be, but is, in fact, an alternate religious “creation scenario” which is derived concept for concept from the Kabbala, a mystic, anti-Christ “holy book” of the Pharisee Sect of Judaism.

As the saying goes, often an offense is the best defense. LOL

Here is another news article about the memo.



Another glib Brayton article about Sternberg report

I earlier reported about two glib articles that "Fatheaded Ed" Brayton wrote about the Sternberg affair. In those articles, fast talker Ed appears to pull "facts" out of the air, and he has repeated the performance in another article about Sternberg, this one a response to an article by Jack Cashill in the WorldNetDaily website.

Ed's URL links to the Sternberg report and the report's separate appendix don't work, so I had to get the links from an Evolution News & Views article -- the Sternberg report is here and the report's separate appendix is here.

One thing that surprised me about the Sternberg report is the many references to emails. I wonder why people would save potentially incriminating emails.

Considering that Brayton was not a direct participant in the events described in the report and the appendix, how was he able to give such an amazingly detailed answer to Cashill's article within hours after that article appeared? Does Brayton go around constantly with all of that information at the top of his head? Cashill's article was posted at 1 AM EST on Feb.15 and Brayton's response appeared at 10:43 AM EST (I am assuming that Brayton's blog is on CST) on the next day. Also, Brayton was working on other stuff at the same time and so was not able to devote his full time to writing the response to Cashill. Brayton didn't specifically reference his sources, if he even had them -- there are no quotations, document names, page numbers, etc. (the appendix is 74 pages long and it is very difficult to find something in it without a page number or a description of a letter, email, or other document). How do we know that he was not just spinning another yarn like he did when he falsely claimed that (1) particular people had advised the newly elected Dover school board to not repeal the ID policy prior to release of Judge Jones' final decision and that (2) the board got no expert legal advice to the contrary?

Brayton has claimed that the Sternberg report is not an official House subcommittee report:

Though the DI says that "The House Government Reform Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources has issued its official report" on the matter, this does not appear to be an official report of that committee. Rather, it appears to be a report from the staff of the committee to Rep. Mark Souder only. The report is hosted on Souder's website, not the committee website, and there is nothing to indicate that it is an official committee report.

However, Ed has never identified any member(s) of the subcommittee who disagreed with the report.

Ed wrote,

I find it interesting that no one has ever responded to my several thorough and detailed refutations of this report. No one from the DI[Discovery Institute], or from UD[Uncommon Descent] or any other ID source, nor Sternberg himself, has ever even attempted to refute it. They've responded to many other things I've written, so they obviously read the page; the lack of response speaks volumes, I think.

You shouldn't flatter yourself, Ed. You may be the only one who has done a detailed independent study of the Sternberg affair and you are not considered to be important enough to be worth responding to. I think that my blog has some good arguments that apparently no one has responded to outside my blog, e.g., my ugly charge that Judge Jones showed hostility towards organized religions by essentially saying in his Dickinson College commencement speech that organized religions are not "true" religions and that this hostility likely prejudiced him against the defendants in Kitzmiller v. Dover. If you feel that your arguments on your blog are being ignored, welcome to the club.

Ed Brayton is what is called a "fast talker." Here is a good description of the term "fast talker":

The fast talker controls the conversation by ploughing over all obstacles. Other people's thoughts are shoved aside before the onslaught. The fast talker is always on the edge of going out of control, of spiraling off into incoherence or circuity. But the talent of the fast talker lies in staying just below that threshold, and generating a pulsing stream of discourse at the threshold of listeners' comprehension.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Darwinists concede "Flock of Dodos" wrong about Haeckel's Embryos

There is a huge controversy going on now about Jonathan Wells' charge that some recent biology textbooks use Haeckel's long-discredited embryo drawings as false supporting evidence for evolution theory. The movie "Flock of Dodos" claims that the charge is false, but now Darwinists -- including the producer of the movie, Randy Olson -- are conceding that there is truth to the charge.

In a Feb. 10 article in Evolution News & Views, John West said,

The documentary Flock of Dodos depicts biologist Jonathan Wells as a fraud for claiming in his book Icons of Evolution (2000) that Haeckel’s bogus embryo drawings were used by modern textbooks to misrepresent the evidence for Darwinian evolution. But at a screening last Wednesday night at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, Olson essentially admitted that it was his film that was wrong, not Wells. In answer to an audience question about whether he still maintained that "there are no Haeckel's embryos in modern textbooks," Olson replied:

at the time of that discussion [about Haeckel's embryos in the film], I wasn’t aware that apparently there are a few textbooks that have traces of Haeckel’s embryos that they use for models of these things. (emphasis in original)

And dyed-in-the-wool Darwinist PZ Myers said,

Haeckel was wrong. His theory was invalid, some of his drawings were faked, and he willfully over-interpreted the data to prop up a false thesis. Furthermore, he was influential, both in the sciences and the popular press; his theory still gets echoed in the latter today. Wells is also correct in criticizing textbook authors for perpetuating Haeckel's infamous diagram without commenting on its inaccuracies or the way it was misused to support a falsified theory.(emphasis added)



Friday, February 16, 2007

Holocaust revisionist Ernst Zundel gets five years

It is with the greatest sadness that I report that Germany has hoosegowed holocaust revisionist Ernst Zundel for five years -- see here and here.

This persecution of holocaust revisionists has got to stop. Freedom of expression is sacrosanct except where there are truly compelling reasons for abridging it.

I am finally coming out of the closet. I refuse to be intimidated any longer by the fascist bigots who persecute holocaust revisionists. I am adding two major holocaust revisionist websites, the Institute for Historical Review and the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust, to my link list because I have found no unjustified criticism of Jews or Jewish groups in them.

Here is a contact form for sending protests to the German embassy.



More Amazon.com reviews of "Monkey Girl"

I previously reported on Amazon.com's first customer review of the book "Monkey Girl" -- now Amazon.com has three more customer reviews.

Reviewer Fm "FM" wrote,
He [author Edward Humes] chooses utterly clownish figures (not that I doubt such figures exist) as the headline representatives of those who question the current orthodoxy, and he brings up "enlightenment" stereotypes of threatening intimidation and oppression by ignorant religious kooks over sensible, rational, modern-type folk. Using reasonably engaging storytelling skills, he sets an underlying tone to these characters that is filled with tendentiousness through and through and blind faith in doctrinaire Darwinism.

Two stars for story telling. Zero for objectivity and factual content on any level.

Reviewer The Professor wrote,
This book purports to be an accurate, balanced account of the Dover trial but is closer to an Inherit the Wind type of mocking parody. It remind me of the early books I have read on the Scopes trial, such as Ray Ginger's Six Days or Forever. Fortunately, we now have the far more accurate and balanced book by Edward Larson titled Summer for the Gods (which was awarded numerous prizes) which cover the Scopes trial. Someone needs to do an accurate book on the Dover Trial as well because this book is irresponsible . . . .This book demonizes one side and will only add fuel to the war that Humes notes goes on without end. I could not see any evidence that any Darwin skeptics reviewed this book for accuracy. All of the book's endorsers are well-known atheists or secularists known for their opposition to those who question orthodox Darwinism.

Reviewer William C. Garthright wrote,
It appears that the "culture wars" are playing out even in these reviews, and it doesn't seem likely that we'll get any neutral observations. I wonder if people who gave it poor reviews even read it. To my mind, "Monkey Girl" is about as fair to both sides as you can get . . . . .

. . . More importantly, perhaps, the writing is superb. I have rarely read a non-fiction book that kept my attention as well as this one. Honestly, I could not put it down. It covers not just the famous Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, but the situation leading up to the trial, including background on the entire evolution-creationism war. I learned a great deal from the book, while being even more greatly entertained by it.

I myself was amused by the buffoonery of some of the Dover school board members. For example, many months after these members voted to adopt the ID policy, they still could not give even the simplest definition of ID -- how was it possible that they were so poorly prepared for testifying at the trial? And I think that a response that former school board member William Buckingham gave to a lawyer's question is a classic -- "I don't know what you said you thought I knew" or something like that. To me that is even funnier than the title of humorist Art Buchwald's book "I think I don't remember," a spoof about shenanigans in government (but of course Buchwald presumably wanted to keep the title as short as possible while getting the point across). I joked that labeling Buckingham as a "hostile witness" implied that he testified while in a straitjacket or while wearing an electric stun belt. But there is a time for humor and a time to be serious, and I don't think that it is serious to stereotype ID supporters as being like these Dover school board members.

From what I have seen so far, I get the overall impression that "Monkey Girl" is well written, entertaining, and informative (within limits), but extremely biased and perhaps poorly documented. The book is obviously very popular and my biggest concern is that people may think that the book contains all that they need to know about the Dover case and I suspect that this is far from the truth. I am especially disturbed that someone who might have helped give more balance to the book, Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute, declined to grant Humes a full interview. Also, I am wondering if other Discovery Institute people were interviewed for the book -- they have been the most active and prominent critics of the Dover decision.

I am afraid that this is one book that I will have to buy in order to properly review it (an added bonus if I buy the book from Amazon.com is that I will then become a customer and be able to state my opinions there).

I have switched to the new blogger.com setup and now have a new feature called "labels," which can be used to assign posts to different categories. I now have around 300 posts on this blog and it will take me a long time to label most of them. However, I have already labeled all of my posts about "Monkey Girl," so these can all be seen by clicking on the label below.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

PZ Myers calls this blog "a bottomless pit of stupidity"

I noticed a sudden surge in the frequency of visits to this blog. My daily number of visitors is normally in the range of 20-50 and the highest I have previously seen was about 80 visitors in a single day. Today I have received over 200 so far. So I went to the "By Referrals" page of my Sitemeter and found that most of my visitors were coming from a webpage titled "killfile dungeon" on PZ Myers' Pharyngula blog. Then to my surprise I found that I was at the top of PZ's list of banned commenters! I am listed as follows:

Larry Fafarman
AKA Larry Farma, many others

Stupidity, Morphing

Automatically Junked

This fellow is probably mentally ill, but he's able to maintain a blog that is a bottomless pit of stupidity. Also banned at the Panda's Thumb.

Well, I feel honored.



Humes in huff over WSJ book review of "Monkey Girl"

Edward Humes, author of "Monkey Girl," in a complaint about a negative review of the book, said,

Shame on the Wall Street Journal for publishing a review of Monkey Girl this week without revealing that the reviewer is a partisan anti-evolutionist.

Well, Ed, the Los Angeles Times published your op-ed "Dumbing down evolution to kill it" without revealing that you are a partisan pro-evolutionist. You were identified only as an author whose most recent work is "Monkey Girl."

Most of Humes' complaints about the book review are ad hominem attacks against the author, Pamela Winnick. He specifically criticizes only one statement in the review:

As she has done in the past, Winnick mischaracterizes Charles Darwin's theory as "the godless and random forces of natural selection that render the human species a mere accident of nature."

Winnick did make an error here: the random forces are in mutations, not natural selection.

Despite Humes' unmitigated condemnation of the book review, the review is in places supportive of Humes' views. For example, the review says,

During the trial, the plaintiffs' lawyers -- supplied by a prestigious Philadelphia law firm and the ACLU -- made monkeys of the school board's witnesses. Even Michael Behe of Lehigh University, a professor of biochemistry and one of ID's leading advocates, came off badly. He handled himself well enough on direct examination but crumbled on cross when he finally admitted that his book "Darwin's Black Box"--in which he argued that cellular structures are irreducibly complex in ways that natural selection cannot explain--did not undergo peer review. Other ID luminaries, like William Dembski, refused to testify, feeling at odds with the school board's actions.

BTW, the official reason for the withdrawal of Dembski and two others as defense expert witnesses is that the Thomas More Law Center, the defense counsel, would not allow them to have their own attorneys present during depositions.

The review also says,

Judge Jones decided -- appropriately, in light of the facts -- that the school board's statement about what should be taught in biology classes was motivated by religion and did not belong in the public schools.

Even many critics of the Dover decision concede that under the infamous Lemon test, Jones was obligated to rule against the defendants because of the blatant religious motivations of some of the school board members.

While I am at it, I would like to make some more comments about th WSJ review. The review said,
Humes did score one big interview, with Judge Jones himself. The judge is thoughtful, but the interview is inappropriate. Most judges feel ethically compelled to refrain from public comment on cases that have come before them.

Well, Judge Jones did not feel thus "ethically compelled." Despite his false claim to the contrary, Jones has made a lot of direct public comments about the specifics of the Dover case. His radio interview of nearly an hour around March 22 contains many such comments. And his commencement speech at Dickinson College gave an interpretation of the establishment clause that showed great hostility towards organized religions by essentially saying that they are not "true" religions -- that this speech did not raise more eyebrows is astonishing.

BTW, I don't think that it is necessarily frowned upon for judges to make out-of-court public statements defending their decisions. Supreme Court Justice Stevens made some public comments in defense of his majority opinion in the unpopular Kelo v. New London eminent domain decision.

The review said,

Mr. Humes claims that the Vatican has unequivocally embraced Darwin.

Prominent Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the chief editor of the Catholic catechism, said in a recent speech that he wants to correct what he calls a widespread misconception that the Catholic Church has given a blanket endorsement to Darwin's theories.

As apparently only the second book that is primarily about the Dover case (the Discovery Institute's "Traipsing Into Evolution" was probably the first) and apparently the first such book of its type, "Monkey Girl" has attracted a lot of attention. As Humes notes on his blog, it was featured on the front page of the Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review. As just an unreviewed decision of a single judge, the Dover decision has arguably gotten more attention than it deserves.

To Humes' credit, his link list in the right-hand sidebar of his blog "Monkey Girl" includes a link to the Discovery Institute's Evolution News & Views, which has been very critical of him and the book. BTW, IMO the DI's Casey Luskin's refusal to grant a full interview to Humes was narrow-minded, irresponsible and unfair to Humes.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Darwinists are the ones who dumb down evolution

In a Los Angeles Times op-ed titled "Dumbing down evolution to kill it," Edward Humes, author of "Monkey Girl," said,

There are really two theories of evolution. There is the genuine scientific theory, and there is the talk-radio pretend version, designed not to enlighten but to deceive and enrage. The talk-radio version had a packed town hall up in arms at the "Why Evolution Is Stupid" lecture. In this version of the theory, scientists supposedly believe that all life is accidental, a random crash of molecules that magically produced flowers, horses and humans — a scenario as unlikely as a tornado in a junkyard assembling a 747. Humans come from monkeys in this theory, just popping into existence one day. The evidence against Darwin is overwhelming, the purveyors of talk-radio evolution rail, yet scientists embrace his ideas because they want to promote atheism . . . . .

.. . . . . But then there is the real theory of evolution, the one that was on display in that Harrisburg courtroom, for which there is overwhelming evidence in labs, fossils, computer simulations and DNA studies. Most Americans have not heard of it. Teachers give it short shrift in schools because the subject upsets too many parents who only know the talk-radio version. But real evolution isn't random; it doesn't say man came from monkeys. Those claims are made up by critics to get people riled up — paving the way for pleasing alternatives like intelligent design.

The ones who are "dumbing down" evolution are the anti-intellectual Darwinists who seek censorship of even the mere mention of rational -- as opposed to faith-based -- criticisms of evolution theory.

The Darwinists have "contrived dualisms" (also called "false dichotomies") of their own. Humes allows only two versions of evolution theory: the "genuine scientific theory" and "the talk-radio pretend version."

Humes ignores the tremendous amount of legitimate criticism of Judge Jones and presents him as just a martyr who "was rewarded for his sensible and well-documented ruling with death threats":

Judge John E. Jones III was rewarded for his sensible and well-documented ruling with death threats. Such is the power of talk-radio evolution.

FortheKids on Reasonable Kansans has a much longer discussion of this op-ed.

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Hypersensitive, paranoid Jews target Henry Ford Museum

Previous posts on this blog have shown that the hypersensitivity and paranoia of Jews have inhibited open debate about the Holocaust. People who dare to question official Holocaust history are smeared as neo-Nazis and anti-Semites. And Anti-defamation League national director Abraham Foxman, in condemning a TV program linking Darwin to Hitler, could only argue that Hitler did not "need" Darwin in order to devise the Holocaust. Also, Foxman has made a general attack on Christian fundies, who are among the biggest supporters of Israel. A recent news article has another illustration of the hypersensitivity and paranoia of Jews:

DEARBORN, Mich. (Feb. 13) - Mitt Romney officially entered the 2008 presidential race Tuesday, a former one-term Republican governor of Massachusetts suggesting that his record of leadership inside and outside government uniquely positions him to tackle the country's challenges.

. . . . Romney's choice of a museum honoring auto pioneer Henry Ford as the site of his presidential announcement was strongly criticized Monday by Jewish Democrats, who noted Ford's history of anti-Semitism.

The former Massachusetts governor was taken to task by The National Jewish Democratic Council.

The council "is deeply troubled by Governor Romney's choice of locations to announce his presidential campaign," executive director Ira Forman said in a statement . . .

. . . Forman said Romney's "embrace of Henry Ford and association of Ford's legacy with his presidential campaign raises serious questions about either the sincerity of Romney's words or his understanding of basic American history."

Ford was bestowed with the Grand Service Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle by Adolph Hitler

Eric Fehrnstrom, a spokesman for Romney, said the candidate will go ahead with his announcement as planned.

"Governor Romney believes our country needs to put innovation at the forefront if we are to ensure a stronger, safer and more prosperous America," Fehrnstrom said. "The Ford Museum embodies that bold, innovative spirit."

For starters, the museum is named for Henry Ford but is not specifically dedicated to "honoring" him.

Though Henry Ford was anti-Semitic, another big reason why Hitler admired Ford was that Hitler saw the Ford Model T as the forerunner of Hitler's Volkswagen, the "people's car."

Possibly an additional reason for Mitt Romney's choice of the museum for his announcement is his ties to Michigan and the auto industry. His father George Romney was a governor of Michigan and an executive in the auto industry.

I visited the Henry Ford Museum and saw nothing anti-Semitic there.

What is next? A boycott of Ford vehicles?

Also, Charles Lindbergh, despite his Jewish-sounding name, was accused of being an anti-Semite. So should the Spirit of St. Louis be removed from the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian Institution?



Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and evolution

I thought that critics of Darwinism long ago gave up arguments based on the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, but such arguments were recently posted on Answers in Genesis:

The principles of thermodynamics, even in open systems, do not allow a new functional biological structure to be achieved without new machinery already being in place.

Let’s put a bit more detail in here. The laws of thermodynamics have one law in particular—the Second Law of Thermodynamics—which says that in a closed system the amount of energy that is no longer available for useful work is increasing. This is energy “lost” to the system per unit degree of temperature, and it is called the entropy of the system. The principle of energy loss for useful work still applies in an open system, since there is no benefit unless there is a machine to use the energy added.

Energy is defined as the ability or capacity to do work. Energy can be added to an open system without regard to the availability of a machine to convert that energy into useful work.

Boeing 777s cannot be made in a car factory by adding loads of sunlight or electricity unless the machinery is available to use that energy to build Boeing 777s. Similarly the human brain cannot be formed from simpler machines just by adding energy if there is no machinery available to do this. Spontaneously forming of such machinery will not happen.

The conversion of a car factory to produce Boeing 777's concerns a purposeful macroscopic arrangement of parts, whereas the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics does not concern such an arrangement of parts. In the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, energy in a substance is uniformly distributed at the atomic or molecular level, as in the kinetic energy in the atoms or molecules of gases.

. . . .unlike macro machines, chemical machinery at the molecular level involves setting up proteins of hundreds and usually thousands of polypeptide bonds linking a string of amino acids. And each of these bonds is in a raised energy state such that, left to itself, it would break down and not stay in that state. To suggest, as some are saying, that the raised energy state would be maintained while natural selection favored, over many generations, single random mutations, one by one, to finally bring together the full complement of necessary amino acids is, frankly, thermodynamically absurd. This is never observed and is contrary to all thermodynamic principles of energy transfer.

DNA is generally stable and shows no particular tendency to spontaneously decay.

The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is often stated in ways that have nothing to do with biology, e.g.,

Kelvin statement: It is impossible to construct an engine, operating in a cycle, whose sole effect is receiving heat from a single reservoir and the performance of an equivalent amount of work.

Clausius statement: It is impossible to carry out a cyclic process using an engine connected to two heat reservoirs that will have as its only effect the transfer of a quantity of heat from the low-temperature reservoir to the high-temperature reservoir

I think that a good illustration of the effect of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is a closed system with two finite reservoirs at different temperatures plus an engine -- say, a Carnot engine -- that performs work by operating in a cycle in which heat is received from the hot reservoir in one stage of the cycle and heat is transferred to the cold reservoir in another stage. As the work is performed, the hot reservoir becomes cooler and the cold reservoir becomes warmer, and as a result of these temperature changes the engine becomes increasingly less efficient (in a Carnot engine with an ideal gas as the working substance, the efficiency is defined as the ratio of (1) the temperature difference of the reservoirs to (2) the absolute temperature of the hot reservoir). Eventually a point is reached where the temperature difference between the two reservoirs is so small that practically no work can be performed at all. However, according to the First Law of Thermodynamics, the total internal energy of the closed system is the same as it was at the beginning. What has changed is that this energy is no longer capable of performing work inside the system because that energy is now uniformly scattered in the form of a uniform temperature throughout the system whereas a difference in reservoir temperatures is required to perform work. The system has changed from an ordered system -- where higher-energy gas particles in the hotter reservoir are separated from lower-energy gas particles in the colder reservoir -- to a disordered system where the gas-particle energy is uniformly distributed throughout the system. This increase in disorder is represented by an increase in the total entropy of the system.

Wikipedia discusses efforts to use the "Gibbs free energy" concept to relate living things to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics:

In recent years, the thermodynamic interpretation of evolution in relation to entropy has begun to utilize the concept of the Gibbs free energy, rather than entropy. This is because biological processes on earth take place at roughly constant temperature and pressure, a situation in which the Gibbs free energy is an especially useful way to express the second law of thermodynamics. . . .

. . . .In the popular textbook 1982 textbook Principles of Biochemistry by noted American biochemist Albert Lehninger, it is argued that the order produced within cells as they grow and divide is more than compensated for by the disorder they create in their surroundings in the course of growth and division . . . .

In 1998, noted Russian physical chemist Georgi Gladyshev, in his book Thermodynamic Theory of the Evolution of Living Beings, argues that evolution of living beings is governed by the tendency for quasi-equilibrium, semi-closed, hierarchical living systems to evolve in the direction that tends to minimize the Gibbs free energy of formation of each structure. Variations of the Gibbs function of formation of a thermodynamic system at any stage of the evolution, for instance ontogenesis and phylogenesis, such as a social system, according to Gladyshev, "can be calculated by means of thermodynamic methods." Gladyshev calls this a form of sociological thermodynamics.

Similarly, according to the chemist John Avery, from his recent 2003 book Information Theory and Evolution, we find a presentation in which the phenomenon of life, including its origin and evolution, as well as human cultural evolution, has its basis in the background of thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and information theory. The (apparent) paradox between the second law of thermodynamics and the high degree of order and complexity produced by living systems, according to Avery, has its resolution "in the information content of the Gibbs free energy that enters the biosphere from outside sources."

So some scientists have turned the tables by using thermodynamics to argue in favor of evolution, and it looks like some of their arguments are really bad -- for example, Gibbs free energy has no "information content." Personally, I don't feel that thermodynamics can be a good argument either for or against evolution.

Anyway, thermodynamics is a very abstruse subject. Thermodynamics is a very important subject in mechanical engineering but though I am a mechanical engineer I admit that I feel that I never completely understood it.



The cult of Darwin

Jeez, the Darwinists are now calling Darwin "Chuck" -- see here and here! And they eat birthday cake on Darwin's birthday! These Darwin cultists are sick, sick, sick! They have no shame. Someday this crap is going to catch up with them.

And they worship Darwin while complaining about being called "Darwinists."

It is noteworthy that Charles Darwin was never Sir Charles Darwin or Charles Darwin, Lord You-name-it.



Monday, February 12, 2007

DI's Casey Luskin still partly wrong about "Monkey Girl"

In another post about the book "Monkey Girl," which is principally about the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute is still trying to defend his bad decision to refuse to grant a full interview to the book's author, Edward Humes. Though Discovery Institute was not a party or a legal representative in the case, DI nonetheless figured very prominently in the case: DI was consulted by the defendants and the defense counsel (DI's advice was not taken); at least four of the original 5-6 defense expert witnesses -- Michael Behe, William A. Dembski, Stephen C. Meyer, and John Angus Campbell -- were DI fellows (though the last three withdrew from the case); DI filed amicus briefs in the case; and DI has been by far the most prominent critic of the Dover decision, with DI's criticisms including a book about the decision, "Traipsing into Evolution" (in contrast, the website of the defense counsel, the Thomas More Law Center, has said nothing about the case since the day after the decision was released). I feel that Luskin was virtually obligated to grant a full interview to Humes and that his refusal to do so was unfair to Humes and greatly reduced Humes' ability to write a balanced book about the case had he been so inclined. Having refused to grant a full interview, Luskin is not in an especially good position to complain about the book lacking balance. I think that Luskin acted very irresponsibly here. As for Humes, I feel that he should not have tried to present himself as unbiased whether he was or not, because I think that a full interview should have been granted whether he was biased or not.

I am nonetheless grateful for DI's excellent criticisms of the Kitzmiller v. Dover decision and Judge Jones.

Also, I am wondering if Humes made attempts to interview any of the other DI staffers or fellows and what the results of those attempts were.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

The myth of thorough documentation of the Holocaust

For years, the official Holocaust historians have been telling us that the Holocaust is one of the most thoroughly documented events in history. We have been told that official Holocaust history is partly based on "meticulous" Nazi records. Now we are finally learning how poorly documented the Holocaust actually is.

An AOL article titled Still a Struggle to ID Holocaust Victims says,

Harry Stein sits nose-to-screen, squinting at the fuzzy digits in column after column on faded microfilm, searching for clues to a mystery: Who was Auschwitz inmate 185403?

The number was tattooed on the left forearm of one of the thousands who were processed through Auschwitz, shipped off to Buchenwald concentration camp, and never seen again.

Male? Female? Old? Young? Jewish? Christian? Reason for arrest? The list Stein is scrutinizing says nothing. There's only that number.

More than six decades after the Nazi Holocaust ended, historians such as Stein are still struggling with a gargantuan task - to make a semblance of order among hundreds of thousands of dead by finding, at least, their names.

There is no central catalog -- just miles and miles of files, scattered across Europe, the United States, Israel and elsewhere. Of 56,000 people who perished behind the barbed wire at Buchenwald alone, or on the way there, 23,000 on the camp's records remain unidentified.

The total number of deaths is not the only issue -- another issue is the total number of Jews. How can we know how many of the victims were Jews when we don't even know the identities of so many of the victims? And how can it be verified that victims identified by the Nazis as Jews actually were Jews? And there are no objective criteria for determining who is a Jew and who is not.

The article also says,

. . . . . the International Tracing Service, or ITS, holds some 1.5 million original Nazi documents from Buchenwald. If Stein and his team of six researchers could plumb this collection, the job would be much easier.

But this largest archive of original Nazi records in existence is off-limits to historians. Administered by the International Committee of the Red Cross and governed by an international panel, the ITS' sole mandate for six decades has been to trace the fate of victims or reunite families torn apart by World War II.

"They have these documents that could clarify the fate of so many people, and they are just sitting on them," said Sabine Stein, Buchenwald's chief archivist, who is married to Harry . . .

. . . . .Jean-Luc Blondel, an assistant to the president of the ICRC who served as interim director at the ITS, says he is aware of historians' frustrations, but insists the primary task of the archive is to reunite families.

"Our priority is to catch up with the humanitarian personal requests, and it takes up a lot of our energies," said Blondel.

Last May, the 11-nation commission overseeing the ITS agreed to open the files to researchers. But ratification by the individual countries is required before that can happen. Some have promised to speed the process, but it could be years before all 11 are on board.

Meanwhile, the Steins have learned to follow a circuitous paper trail from archives held at Auschwitz to others maintained by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem gathering copies of recopies, mostly of the original lists held by the ITS.

What does the ITS's purpose of reuniting families have to do with allowing Holocaust historians access to the ITS database? Another phony excuse for denying historians access to the database is to protect people's privacy. Ridiculous.

As for the Yad Vashem database, a fairly recent news article -- dated 9-19-06 -- about the reuniting of two siblings after 65 years said that there were at that time only two known cases of living siblings being reunited through this database:

Yad Vashem spokeswoman Estee Yaari said this was only the second known case of living siblings discovering each other through the database. Last June, two sisters who had survived the Holocaust and moved separately to Israel were reunited after 61 years.

The reuniting of those two sisters after 61 years is described here. How is it possible that only two pairs of living siblings were reunited through the Yad Vashem database? How many other people mistakenly thought that particular relatives had died in the Holocaust? One would think that the Yad Vashem database would be one of the first references consulted by Holocaust survivors looking for information about lost relatives.

I am also wondering why the Nazis recorded and saved documentation of their crimes.

Another flagrant example of the poor documentation of the Holocaust has been the wild variation in the official numbers of deaths at Auschwitz, from 1 to 4 million.

The International Tracing Service (ITS) is also discussed here.



Darwinist bigotry

The Darwinist website Red State Rabble made the following comment about Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn's criticism of the censorship of questioning of Darwinism:

As a former Catholic who grew up in the largely Protestant Midwest, I'm surprised that the cardinal has aligned himself with right-wing fundamentalist forces who believe the Pope is the whore of Babylon and that Catholics, like Jews and Muslims, will be consigned to hell.

I wonder how the cardinal will feel when the fundamentalists begin agitating to teach those timeless truths to young Catholics in public schools.



Saturday, February 10, 2007

Bogus defenses of Evolution Sunday and Clergy Letter Project

Michael Zimmerman, the founder of the Clergy Letter Project which sponsors Evolution Sunday, wrote the following response to a letter by Jonathan Wells:

. . . .he says that I created Evolution Sunday in response to the following policy adopted by the school board of Grantsburg, Wisc.: “Students are expected to analyze, review, and critique scientific explanations, including hypotheses and theories, as to their strengths and weaknesses using scientific evidence and information. Students shall be able to explain the scientific strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory. This policy does not call for the teaching of Creationism or Intelligent Design.”
Absolutely untrue!

Wells goes on to say that “Zimmerman called the policy a decision 'to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance.'”


The fact of the matter is that the policy quoted above was what the Grantsburg, Wis., school board adopted after many of us attacked their original policy and brought worldwide attention to their creationist agenda. Those of us who fought the school board declared victory after their creationist policy was jettisoned and this new one was adopted.

Well, why didn't the Darwinists also "declare victory" when the state boards of education of Kansas and Ohio adopted "critical analysis of evolution" policies that were similar to the Grantsburg's school board's policy above? Instead the Darwinists adamantly opposed those Kansas and Ohio policies.

It is true that intelligent design may come up in discussions of the strengths and weaknesses of evolution theory in science classes, but both the Ohio and Kansas education plans for including a critical analysis of evolution theory stated expressly that there was no specific purpose to teach intelligent design.

Zimmerman says,

He also completely misses the point of Evolution Sunday. He asserts that “it is not evolution in general, but Darwin’s particular theory (Darwinism) that Evolution Sunday celebrates.” The term “Darwinism” has never appeared on any material associated with Evolution Sunday. Indeed, “Darwinism” is a term that is almost exclusively used by creationists to attack evolution.

The Wikipedia article on "Darwinism" says that Europeans in particular do not use the term in a derogatory sense.

Zimmerman says,

. . . .the purposes of Evolution Sunday have been absolutely clear from the outset. The event is designed to provide an opportunity for congregations around the world to discuss the compatibility of religion and science, to investigate why religion and modern science need not be at war with one another. . . . . . one of the purposes of Evolution Sunday is to bring attention to the Clergy Letter, a letter signed by more than 10,500 Christian clergy members. This letter makes it clear that thousands upon thousands of Christian clergy members have no problem embracing their faith as well as evolution.

The Clergy Letter does not just call for open-mindedness towards evolution theory but advocates evolution theory, calling it "a foundational scientific truth" and saying that "[t]o reject this truth or to treat it as 'one theory among others' is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children" :

We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as “one theory among others” is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. We believe that among God’s good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator. To argue that God’s loving plan of salvation for humanity precludes the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris. We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.



List of posts about Judge Jones' speeches and interviews; another interview found

I just discovered a recording of another of Judge Jones' public-speaking events, a radio interview in which he directly discussed the Dover case. The code on the URL link for the interview indicates that the interview occurred on March 22 of last year (this date is also consistent with the weather report given during the recording), before Jones started his official policy of not publicly speaking directly about the case (his spokesperson falsely stated that it has always been his policy to not publicly speak directly about the case). Jones' interview covers about the first 52 minutes of the recording.

I am taking this opportunity to list this blog's other posts that discuss Jones' public speeches and interviews. The 22 posts listed below plus this post constitute 8% of this blog's posts, plus there are many other posts about Jones here, so it is obvious that Jones is a big topic here. Here is the list:

Judge Jones the hypocrite

Judge Jones is hot speaker on the lecture circuit

Judge Jones flunks history and philosophy as well as law and science

More "breathtaking inanity" from Judge Jones

Judge Jones wrong about Founding Fathers' "true religion"

More buffoonery from Judge Jones

Ed Brayton: Judge Jones is above criticism

False stereotyping of criticism of Judge Jones

Judge Jones hides behind "judicial independence" issue

Report on Judge Jones' speech at KU

More on judicial independence

Judge Jones' lame excuses

Judge Jones the megalomaniac

The Living End: Judge Jones' infamous statement about the Founders' "true religion" is a plagiarism

Judge Jones is still on the lecture circuit

Judge Jones falsely denies speaking publicly about Dover case specifics

Videos of Kansas U. "Difficult Dialogues" talk series

Judge Jones still talking through his hat

Even Ed Brayton finds fault with Judge Jones' "true religion" speech

Judge Jones said, "some of my colleagues . . . think I'm crazy"

Update: Judge Jones is still on the lecture circuit



Friday, February 09, 2007

First Amazon.com customer review of "Monkey Girl" is in

The first Amazon.com customer review of the book "Monkey Girl" has been posted by Peter Irons. He bragged or boasted that he read 6000(!) pages of documents in the Dover case:

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.

There are probably not 6000 pages of testimony in the trial, even if the expert witness reports are included -- the 6000 pages probably include all or most of the publicly available documents in the case. For one thing, after reading 6000 pages of material (even though a lot of it is in large print and/or double spaced), most of which is pretty dull reading, one could hardly see the forest for the trees. Also, a lot of very important things are not in the case documents -- e.g., Judge Jones' infamous "true religion" speech, in which he showed great hostility towards organized religions by essentially saying that they are not "true" religions. This hostility towards organized religions arguably biased him against the defendants and thus arguably disqualified him from hearing the case. Judge Jones would not have dared put that "true religion" remark in the Dover opinion. The expression of bias in his "true religion" speech is reflected in the appearance of bias in his rulings.

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.

"Presided with amazing fairness"? heehee haha HAHAHAHAHA

And there we go with that "Republican appointee of President Bush" thing again. The Darwinists are making a much bigger thing about that after the decision than the fundies were making before the decision.

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

The Dover decision is arguably the most overrated and overhyped single-judge decision in American history. The Dover decision had little enough value as precedent to begin with, and now it has even less value as precedent after the Discovery Institute revealed that the opinion's ID-as-science section was virtually entirely ghostwritten by the ACLU. And for the following reasons, I have concluded that Jones' decision is not binding precedent even in his own Middle District of Pennsylvania federal district court: (1) It makes no sense for an unappealed decision of a single judge to be binding precedent anywhere; (2) federal district courts, unlike federal appeals courts, do not have a procedure for eliminating really bad precedents -- the procedure used by federal appeals courts is the en banc (full court) rehearing; and (3) I am confident that I correctly remember that the 9th Circuit federal court of appeals once had a rule that no federal district court decision could be cited in any court of the 9th circuit (except in cases involving the same parties and the same issues), and that circuit rule could not have existed if there were any general rule that federal district court decisions were binding precedent in the same court.

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Casey Luskin's criticism of "Monkey Girl"

I feel that Casey Luskin's criticism of the book "Monkey Girl" and the book's author Edward Humes has both good and bad points. I am particularly disappointed by the bad points because I have generally found Luskin's writings to be astute, fair, and backed up by extensive research.

Casey wrote,

Last spring, I was contacted by Mr. Humes, who requested an interview for his book. He immediately tried to convince me he was fair and objective, which is usually a red flag that a reporter isn’t going to be fair or objective . . . . Due to my suspicions last year, I only granted Humes a short phone interview where we discussed the nature of intelligent design (ID).

IMO, an interview is an interview -- it doesn't matter whether the interviewer is biased or not. If Casey had agreed to a long interview and the book had then misrepresented or unjustifiably omitted his views, then he would at least have had good reason to complain. Casey should not have looked a gift horse in the mouth. Who knows, Casey might have muffed an opportunity to help make the book more balanced.

During our brief call last year, I got Humes to admit that he accepted evolution. That's not necessarily a big deal, but just how staunch is Humes’ support for evolution? Now we learn: Humes’ present FAQ states, “ There is more scientific evidence, laboratory testing and direct observation to support evolutionary theory than virtually any other scientific theory, including gravitational theory...” (emphasis added by Luskin)

I’ve never seen a single journalist who promised he was fair and non-partisan subsequently claim that evolution has more scientific support than gravity. In fact, I can't recall witnessing anyone anywhere ever claim that evolution has more scientific evidence than gravity.

I think that Luskin has a good point here.

BTW, Humes was not speaking of "gravity" as Luskin said but was speaking of "gravitational theory." There is a "law" of gravity -- Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation which says that gravitational force is proportional to the product of the masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them -- and then there are "theories" of gravity (or gravitation) that seek to explain it. In Humes' FAQ, "gravitational theory" in the preceding quote has an asterisk to the following footnote (this footnote might have been added after Luskin criticized the above quote) --

*There is, of course, no doubt that gravity exists, but the understanding of how and why it effects space and time is surprisingly incomplete when it comes to laboratory evidence. For instance, the existence of gravitational waves is predicted by gravitational theory, but despite determined efforts by physicists for many years, such waves have never been directly detected. Evolution, on the other hand, has been observed directly in the laboratory and in nature innumerable times. (emphasis added)

The kind of evolution that Humes describes here consists only of microevolution and does not include macroevolution. No one disputes microevolution -- the big controversy is over macroevolution. Humes is either ignorant or dishonest here -- and I think the latter because I doubt that anyone could write such an extensive review of the Dover case without becoming aware of the difference between microevolution and macroevolution.

Luskin says,

Humes’ FAQ states: “Fact: Evolution is mindless, but never random.” (emphasis added by Luskin)

Sheeesh -- then why do they call it "random" mutation?

When Humes contacted me last year, I asked him if he would provide his book proposal because that would probably show if had an agenda. He declined, stating as his given reason that he didn’t want to risk anyone stealing his book idea. That sounded fair, so I dropped my request.

What was the big secret? Interviewing people connected to the Dover case and then writing a book based on the interviews hardly seems like a novel idea.

But now that his book is published, no one can steal his ideas, so I recently re-asked him to make his book proposal public so he can prove that he had no agenda when writing Monkey Girl. But Humes still refuses to make his book proposal public! (emphasis in original)

I think that Luskin is wrong for condemning Humes for refusing to make the book proposal public. IMO people should not be expected to disclose their private tentative ideas -- ideas that they never intended to make public and ideas that they may later scrap or modify. I also think it was wrong of the Dover plaintiffs to subpoena expert witness William Dembski's draft of the book "Design of Life" -- the subpoena was approved by Judge Jones with the provision that the contents of the draft not be publicly disclosed.

Also, unless Humes is an employee of the book's publisher, I am surprised that he submitted a book proposal to the publisher. I have never heard of a publishing company accepting a book from an independent writer solely on the basis of a book proposal -- I thought that publishing companies accepted such books only on the basis of complete manuscripts.

I previously discussed "Monkey Girl" in this post.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Notable Darwinist says humans evolved from apes

Some Darwinists are now claiming that humans did not evolve from apes but that humans and apes both evolved from some "common ancestor." However, well-known hominid paleontologist Richard Leakey says that humans evolved from apes. A recent news article said,

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Deep in the dusty, unlit corridors of Kenya's national museum, locked away in a plain-looking cabinet, is one of mankind's oldest relics: Turkana Boy, as he is known, the most complete skeleton of a prehistoric human ever found.

But his first public display later this year is at the heart of a growing storm -- one pitting scientists against Kenya's powerful and popular evangelical Christian movement . . . .

. . . . . "I did not evolve from Turkana Boy or anything like it," says Bishop Boniface Adoyo, head of Kenya's 35 evangelical denominations, which he claims have 10 million followers. "These sorts of silly views are killing our faith."

He's calling on his flock to boycott the exhibition and has demanded the museum relegate the fossil collection to a back room -- along with some kind of notice saying evolution is not a fact but merely one of a number of theories.

Against him is one of the planet's best-known fossil hunters, Richard Leakey, whose team unearthed the bones at Nariokotome in West Turkana, in the desolate, far northern reaches of Kenya in 1984.

"Whether the bishop likes it or not, Turkana Boy is a distant relation of his," Leakey, who founded the museum's prehistory department, told The Associated Press. "The bishop is descended from the apes and these fossils tell how he evolved."
(emphasis added)

Humans are usually considered to be apes themselves, and if humans are defined as apes, then according to evolution theory humans by definition evolved from non-human apes (also sometimes called "anthropoid apes"). And relatively speaking, I wonder what is so terrible about saying that humans evolved from apes and monkeys when Darwinism says that humans evolved from much lower forms of life, going down to protozoa.

The article also says,

Leakey fears the ideological spat may provoke an attack on the priceless collection, one largely found during the 1920s by his paleontologist parents, Louis and Mary Leakey, who passed their fossil-hunting traditions on to him.

The museum, which attracts around 100,000 visitors a year, is taking no chances.

Turkana Boy will be displayed in a private room, with limited access and behind a glass screen with 24-hour closed-circuit TV. Security guards will be at the entrance.

"There are issues about the security," said Dr. Emma Mbua, the head of paleontology at the museum. "These fossils are irreplaceable and we wouldn't want anything to happen to them."

Insurance coverage could run into millions of dollars, she added.

Considering Africa's tendencies towards instability and violence, I think it would be a good idea for the museum to try to compromise with the Kenyan fundies, as by posting the evolution disclaimer that Bishop Adoyo proposed. Better safe than sorry.

The article also says,

"Turkana Boy is our jewel," she said. "For the first time, we will be taking him out of the strong room and showing our heritage to the world."

I cannot understand how a fossil can be viewed as a source of pride, but that is how the British also viewed Piltdown Man, which was exposed as a hoax.