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.

Name:
Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Ed Brayton responds on IP address leaks

Fatheaded Ed Brayton has again taken a cowardly potshot at one of my posts here -- this time towards my post titled Leaking IP address information is illegal in UK -- while knowing that I cannot answer him on his blog. He will delete my comments on his blog whether I post under my real name or whether I post under a false name and the comment looks like it came from me. So I will just have to answer Ed and his commenters here.

Ed said,
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Larry, you muddleheaded moron, ScienceBlogs doesn't "leak" your IP address to me, it's logged every single time you leave a comment.

Ed, you stupid fathead, it is a continuous leak rather than an intermittent leak, but it is still a leak.

I have complete control over the content of my blog, including content left by commenters.

That "complete control" was given to you by Scienceblogs software.

And this may come as a shock to you, since while we both inhabit the US you seem to live in fantasy land, but this isn't the UK.

And it may come as a shock to you that I said that I was talking about the UK and not the USA.

Jesus Christ, Larry, how freaking stupid can you possibly be? The 4th amendment is a limitation on what the government can do.

Wow -- this time you did not even use your trademark minced oath, "for Chri-ing out loud." Where is the government mentioned in the 4th amendment? Also, there is no general rule that the Constitution applies only to the government -- for example, private entities have been convicted of violating the 14th amendment that protects civil rights and the 13th amendment that prohibits slavery. One of my favorite Supreme Court rulings -- I wish I had the citation -- is that someone invoking a law need not show that the law was intended to benefit him.

mark said under Ed's post ( March 30, 2007 10:33 AM ),
You mean if I write you a letter, you're allowed to read the return address? There oughta be a law!

A person sending a letter has the option of maintaining anonymity by either leaving out a return address or by giving a post-office box. Also, a return postal address cannot be used to invade a computer.

Also, rules do not easily transfer from one communications mode to another. For example, people can ask to not receive junk telephone calls but cannot ask to not receive junk postal mail.

mah9 said ( March 30, 2007 10:59 AM ),

I'm pretty sure you're not selling this info on to spammers etc, and not using it for any other nefarious purposes (unless Fafarman actually believes that you are cyber-stalking him), you should not have anything to worry about.

Even if Ed Brayton himself doesn't cyber-stalk me, someone else who sees his posting of my IP address might try it -- fortunately I do not have a unique static IP address.

Matt Penfold said ( March 30, 2007 11:40 AM ) --

Ed,

You are mistaken on a point of UK law. It does NOT matter where you or your blog server are located . . . .

A number of US based companies have fallen foul of this as Europe has tighter controls over the use of personal information held by third parties. Storing personal information on a EU national in the US is a criminal offence in the EU unless explicit consent has been given and the organistion holding the data has undertaken to abide by the principles of EU law regarding data protection.

Well, thank you for that piece of information. So if I were an EU -- or at least a UK -- national, then Ed and Scienceblogs would be breaking the law.

That all said the person complaining is talking bollocks. IP addresses do not constitute personal information unless accomponied by other information,

No thanks this time. For starters, Ed Brayton's posting of ID addresses was "accompanied by other information." Furthermore, if the IP address is a static IP address uniquely associated with a specific personal computer, then that IP address may be used to attack that computer.

Also, Article 2 (a) of the EU's Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 says,

. . . an identifiable person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identification number or to one or more factors specific to his physical, physiological, mental, economic, cultural or social identity

An IP address -- particularly a static one uniquely associated with a particular computer -- is an "identification number."

. . . . and in anycase posting a comment on a blog would constitute agreement to the data being held.

Wrong -- Article 7(a) of EU Directive 95/46/EC says,

Article 7

Member States shall provide that personal data may be processed only if:

(a) the data subject has unambiguously given his consent; or . . .
(emphasis added)

Matt Penfold said ( March 30, 2007 12:06 PM ) --

. . . the law is intended to catch companies and organisations, not individuals.

The European policies and laws do not distinguish between individuals and companies/organizations.

doctorgoo said ( March 30, 2007 12:37 PM ) --

This guy is so crazy! Almost every time he has posted here recently as "Anonymous", he denies that he's Larry and expresses surprise that his posts keep getting deleted.

But then he goes to his own blog and starts complaining about being banned . . . and thus basically admitting that he is Larry.

That's it -- blame the victims.

BTW, doctorgoo, I don't see you posting under your real name.

Alex Whiteside said ( March 30, 2007 10:27 PM ) --

Unless I'm greatly mistaken, an IP address isn't considered a bit of special, private, protected information by common law or statute in England or Scotland (while we share statutes, don't fool yourself that there's such a thing as "UK law"), or for that matter the EU as a whole. It's like your phone number or a return to sender address on a parcel - as long as someone's not posting it up on the internet and instructing people to letter bomb you, or performing DoS attacks with it, no offense is being commited.

You are "greatly mistaken." A static IP address uniquely identified with a specific personal computer -- and there are some such static IP addresses -- can be used to target that computer for harassment, harm or theft of confidential data. And Ed did post IP addresses up on the Internet.

Beren said ( March 30, 2007 03:00 PM ) --

It's impossible for any upload or download to occur on the Internet without an exchange of IP addresses . . . . in general, using a web site means you are broadcasting your IP address, unencrypted, over publicly monitored communication channels.

Not necessarily -- posting a comment is just a one-way communication and the commenter does not need to give his correct IP address. Also, even if posting a comment were a two-way communication, Article 6 of EU Directive 95/46/EC says that the commenter's IP address should be retained for no longer than the time necessary to complete the communication:

Article 6

1. Member States shall provide that personal data must be:

- - - - - - - - -

(e) kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the data were collected or for which they are further processed . . . .

Anyway, it is nice to know that these folks are reading my stuff.
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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Big new hole in evolution theory?

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Again, my thanks to FortheKids of the Reasonable Kansans blog for the cartoon.

It seems that the Darwinists have been taking one step forward and two steps back in their efforts to prove evolution theory. There have been recent discoveries of "missing link" fossils, e.g., Tiktaalik, but now a news article says,
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The big dinosaur extinction of 65 million years ago didn't produce a flurry of new species in the ancestry of modern mammals after all, says a huge study that challenges a long-standing theory.

Scientists who constructed a massive evolutionary family tree for mammals found no sign of such a burst of new species at that time among the ancestors of present-day animals.

Only mammals with no modern-day descendants showed that effect.

"I was flabbergasted," said study co-author Ross MacPhee, curator of vertebrate zoology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

I think that the findings of the above study show the folly of cladistic taxonomy, the classification of organisms according to their known evolutionary histories. With the known evolutionary histories constantly changing, they cannot be used to establish a uniform and permanent system of classification.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Leaking IP address information is illegal in UK

I have already discussed many of the evils of attempts to ban commenters by means of IP address blocking. I have now discovered that blog service Scienceblogs' leakage of IP address information to blogger Ed Brayton (Dispatches from the Culture Wars) is a criminal offense in the UK and possibly elsewhere in Europe, as discussed below:
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IP address legality in Europe

It is important to note that unlike the US, under European Union law IP Addresses are considered to be personal data as defined by article 2(a) of Directive 95/46/EC " 'personal data' shall mean any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person ('data subject'); an identifiable person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identification number or to one or more factors specific to his physical, physiological, mental, economic, cultural or social identity; " Also see Directive 2006/24/EC.

In association with Time Codes, IP Addressing information will always identify unique ISP account holders unless there is translation of that information.

It is important that this significant difference in legal status is appreciated, since Websites that provide for third party interception of IP addressing information and Traffic Data, without Website visitor consent, are committing a criminal offence in the UK by virtue of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, where through the requirements of European Council Decision 2005/222/JHA such Website owners face serious sanctions, including the winding up of their businesses, being debarred from running a business, and more than 2 years imprisonment.
(emphasis added)

IP addresses do not always identify specific individuals (e.g., my AOL proxy's static IP address is shared with many other AOL users), but the potential is certainly there. If I had a static IP address uniquely associated with my personal computer, I would be afraid that some blogger with a grudge against me would try to use that address to invade my computer. Also, there is the danger that a particular IP address will be blacklisted.

These European laws are a great deterrent to blog services that might try to help bloggers use IP address blocking. Since the Internet is so highly internationalized, blog services may be cautious about the potential of getting into legal trouble anywhere.

The "By details" webpage of a Site Meter (click on the Site Meter icon at the bottom of the left sidebar, then click on "By details") lists some visitors by IP address but does not give the last three digits, e.g., 76.171.246.#. That gives out some unnecessary information but at least shows some respect for the privacy of the visitor.

Here are some excerpts of the Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995:

Article 1

Object of the Directive

1. In accordance with this Directive, Member States shall protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons, and in particular their right to privacy with respect to the processing of personal data . . . . .

Article 2

Definitions

For the purposes of this Directive:

(a) 'personal data' shall mean any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person ('data subject'); an identifiable person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identification number or to one or more factors specific to his physical, physiological, mental, economic, cultural or social identity
. . . . .(emphasis added)

Article 6

1. Member States shall provide that personal data must be:

- - - - - - - - -

(e) kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the data were collected or for which they are further processed . . . . .

Article 7

Member States shall provide that personal data may be processed only if:

(a) the data subject has unambiguously given his consent; or

(b) processing is necessary for the performance of a contract to which the data subject is party or in order to take steps at the request of the data subject prior to entering into a contract; or

(c) processing is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation to which the controller is subject; or

(d) processing is necessary in order to protect the vital interests of the data subject; or

(e) processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller or in a third party to whom the data are disclosed; or

(f) processing is necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by the controller or by the third party or parties to whom the data are disclosed, except where such interests are overridden by the interests for fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject which require protection under Article 1 (1).

Section 2 (8) of the UK's Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 says,

(8) For the purposes of this section the cases in which any contents of a communication are to be taken to be made available to a person while being transmitted shall include any case in which any of the contents of the communication, while being transmitted, are diverted or recorded so as to be available to a person subsequently. (emphasis added)

Leaking IP addresses is also contrary to Amendment IV of the Bill of Rights:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Evolution of Homer

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YouTube Video
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Monday, March 26, 2007

Parody of Evolution Sunday sermons

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LOL. My thanks to FortheKids of the Reasonable Kansans blog for this one.

Real Evolution Sunday sermons are listed here.

BTW, posts with cartoons now have a special label! To see some good cartoons, click on the label. A link for this label has been added to the left sidebar.
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"Monkey Girl" and Dover decision are duds

The book "Monkey Girl," a book mainly about the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, is off to a very slow start on its Amazon.com website. Nearly two months after the book was released (release date was Jan 30), only 14 Amazon.com customer reviews have come in. That is not a very good start for what has been touted as a definitive book about the so-called "trial of the century." The book has received reviews in several prominent publications (the reviews were mostly favorable -- an exception was a review in the Wall Street Journal) and appeared on the front page of the Los Angeles Times' Sunday Book Review. It looks like Monkey Girl will never come anywhere near, say, the 897 Amazon.com customer reviews so far for Ann Coulter's Godless: the Church of Liberalism" (release date of June 6, 2006 and contains a large section about the evolution controversy), or the 666 Amazon.com customer reviews so far for Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion (release date of Sept. 18, 2006). Also, the numbers of comments about the customer reviews and the numbers of responses to the question "Was this review helpful to you?" are comparatively low for Monkey Girl. BTW, what is probably the only other released book that deals specifically or mainly with the Dover case, the Discovery Institute's Traipsing into Evolution (release date of Mar. 10, 2006), now has only 25 Amazon.com customer reviews, but IMO this book was probably not mainly intended to be popular but was probably mainly intended to serve mainly as a scholarly rebuttal of the Dover decision.

The low interest in Amazon.com's Monkey Girl website probably reflects a probable loss of interest in the Dover case itself. The Darwinists continue to boast about their Dover "victory" and the "Dover trap", but the fact is that the Dover opinion is now not worth the paper that it is printed on. Even good unappealed federal district court decisions have limited precedential value, but the Dover decision is not a good one. The Dover decision has been completely discredited. Of the law journal articles and other expert legal opinions regarding the case that have come to my attention, most are critical of the Dover opinion, particularly regarding Judge Jones' decision to rule on the scientific merits of intelligent design. Judges' opinions cite a lot of law journal articles and judges are more likely to cite law journals than Darwinist blogs. Also, the Discovery Institute revealed that the Dover 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. And opponents of the decision have not yet fully exploited Jones' great faux pas in a Dickinson College commencement speech: his show of great hostility towards organized religions by saying that they are not "true" religions. I think that Judge Jones' fifteen minutes of fame are up -- he is still on the lecture circuit talking about "judicial independence" but I never see him in the news anymore. It now appears likely that a bill barring or capping attorney fee awards in establishment clause cases will soon be passed, and that would put an end to the "Dover trap." The "Scopes II" trial, like the original, is coming to be seen as nothing more than a media circus.
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Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Salem hypothesis

I have been aware for a long time that engineers have an especially strong tendency to be skeptical of Darwinism, but I just now learned that this tendency has a name: the "Salem hypothesis." I am especially interested in this tendency because I am an engineer myself.

Wikipedia says,
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The "Salem Hypothesis" is credited to Bruce Salem, a regular contributor to the Usenet talk.origins newsgroup . . . .

-- and Wikipedia gives two versions of the hypothesis:

The first states: "In any Evolution vs. Creation debate, A person who claims scientific credentials and sides with Creation will most likely have an Engineering degree."

The second states: "An education in the Engineering disciplines forms a predisposition to Creation/Intelligent Design viewpoints."

I feel that the reason why we engineers tend to be skeptical of Darwinism is that we are a logical, practical, no bullshit, cut the malarkey, "I'm from Missouri," "show me" kind of people.

The Salem hypothesis is discussed on Pharyngula, Sandwalk, and here and here on Uncommon Descent. There are lots of comments.

As John Paul II said of Darwinism, "Salemism is more than just a hypothesis."


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Saturday, March 24, 2007

New strategies for fighting Internet censorship

The user guides for the Psiphon hacking program are finally available, but I have decided to abandon Psiphon as a means of fighting arbitrary censorship on Panda's Thumb and other websites and I am changing to other means instead. The reasons for this change are as follows:

.(1) Blogs and other websites that censor usually don't just censor individuals but censor ideas. Often, I found that I myself (when posting other false names) or other commenters were suspected of being me just because the ideas that were posted were not considered orthodox.

(2) The Psiphon program itself has problems and limitations. It is somewhat difficult to set up, you need to have one or more forwarding computers, and the forwarding computer must be connected to the Internet during use.

(3) There are other, easier ways of circumventing IP address blocking: (1) anonymous proxies, e.g., hidemyass.com (however, some blogs have developed the ability to detect anonymous proxies); and (2) at least one ISP, Time-Warner, changes a user's external IP address -- i.e., the IP addresses seen by other Internet users -- each time a user logs on (but it seems silly to change to another ISP just to avoid IP address blocks, and some determined censors block an ISP's whole range of IP addresses in order to block a single user).

(4) Some people consider gatecrashing websites to be unethical (though I have no qualms about it myself).

Here are the other means I am now pursuing or considering pursuing:

(1) -- changing the Internet culture so that arbitrary censorship is widely frowned upon, especially when the blog or other website is so big and popular that it has become a major public forum. I am amazed at how many people find arbitrary Internet censorship to be acceptable. If, for example, a government agency invited comments about an issue and then arbitrarily discarded some comments, that would be considered criminal. Our ethical principles are lagging behind our technology.

(2) -- discourage referencing of websites that arbitrarily censor. For example, I am now trying to discourage the listing of Panda's Thumb in a scientific database and the citation of Panda's Thumb in scholarly papers. I'd bet that if just one prominent organization or person stopped referencing Panda's Thumb because of the arbitrary censorship, PT would stop the arbitrary censorship sooner than you could say Jack Robinson.* The saying "if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem" applies admirably to organizations and people that condone arbitrary Internet censorship.

(3) -- discourage blog services from offering IP address blocking to bloggers. IP address blocking is particularly irresponsible and disreputable because large numbers of Internet users can be affected when an ISP's proxy IP address is blocked or when a range of an ISP's IP addresses is blocked. Also, ISP's should be encouraged to not use fixed IP addresses for their proxies. IP address blocking should result in an immediate boycott of the offending website.

(4) -- discourage the granting of web awards to websites that arbitrarily censor.

I know that many websites besides Panda's Thumb practice arbitrary censorship, but I am targeting PT in particular for the following reasons:

(1) PT is so big and popular that it is has become a major public forum.

(2) PT is listed in a scientific database.

(3) Jay Wexler has cited Panda's Thumb in a law journal article.

(4) PT received two major web awards.

I urge readers to join my campaign to fight arbitrary censorship by PT and other websites. If you wait until you yourself are censored, it will be too late to do anything about it. Below is a list of PT bloggers' email addresses (the ones I could find) and I suggest that you include them in protest emails that you send to third parties. When I sent the PT bloggers a copy of a protest letter to Jay Wexler, I got immediate angry responses from two of them, so I obviously touched a raw nerve! Let's add the motto "show them" to the "I'm from Missouri" motto "show me."

abottaro@pandasthumb.org, ed@pandasthumb.org, brauer@pandasthumb.org, reed@pandasthumb.org, welsberr@pandasthumb.org, rbh@pandasthumb.org, garyhurd@pandasthumb.org, minlay@pandasthumb.org, jkrebs@pandasthumb.org, jml@pandasthumb.org, ianfmusgrave@pandasthumb.org, pz@pandasthumb.org, tmsandefur@gmail.com, tara@pandasthumb.org, wilkins@pandasthumb.org, rosenhjd@jmu.edu,
nmsrdave@swcp.com

For your convenience, here is the other contact info that you need:

Jay Wexler

jaywex@bu.edu

Boston University - School of Law
765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston , MA 02215

The law journal that published his paper may be contacted at --

Washington University Law Quarterly

Contact: Editor in Chief
Email: quarter@wulaw.wustl.edu
Postal: Washington University School of Law
AB Hall
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130 USA

Protests of Thomson Scientific's listing of Panda's Thumb in a scientific database called the ISI Web of Knowledge may be made by means of the contact information listed here. Several Thomson Scientific offices have toll-free 1-800 numbers -- the toll-free number for the headquarters office for the Americas is 1 800 336 4474. Contact information for the ISI (Information Sciences Institute) is here.


====================================================

* I am always curious about the origins of common figures of speech. I used to think that the expression "before you can say Jack Robinson" was named for the pioneering black major-league baseball player who was a household name in Brooklyn when he played for the Brooklyn (now Los Angeles) Dodgers. However, one reference gives this explanation:
This expression originated in the 1700s, but the identity of Jack Robinson has been lost. Grose's Classical Dictionary (1785) said he was a man who paid such brief visits to acquaintances that there was scarcely time to announce his arrival before he had departed, but it gives no further documentation.

However, another reference says,

Grose says that the saying had its birth from a very volatile gentleman of that name, who used to pay flying visits to his neighbours, and was no sooner announced than he was off again; but the following couplet does not confirm this derivation:
A warke it ys as easie to be done
As tys to saye Jacke! robys on.

An old Play, cited by Halliwell: Arch. Dict.

LOL

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Wikipedia called a Darwinist "grudge factory"

In an article titled "Wikipedia seen as grudge factory?: Competitor looms" on the Post-Darwinist blog, Denyse O'Leary said,

Recently, there have been some serious problems with widely consulted Wikipedia entries on major intelligent design figures that read like poison pen letters. The trouble is, anyone can edit a Wiki entry. This problem is hardly likely to be confined to the intelligent design controversy, as a recent scandal and ban on school use has spotlighted.

The "recent scandal and ban on school use" are described as follows by an article in the Christian Science Monitor:
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Students in history classes at Middlebury College this spring may have to change the way they do research for papers or tests. Although they can consult the online encyclopedia Wikipedia for background, they are not allowed to cite it as a source.

Professors who drafted the new policy at the Vermont college praise the free website as a "wonderful innovation." They note the more than 1.6 million entries, the up-to-date bibliographies, and the links to relevant, often more reliable sites. But they caution that its open-editing system, which allows anyone to write or edit entries anonymously, carries a risk of error.

Just this month a dark cloud fell over Wikipedia's credibility after it was revealed that a trusted contributor who claimed to be a tenured professor of religion was actually a 24-year-old college dropout. He was also one of the appointed "arbiters" who settled disputes between contributors.

Among these appointed "arbiters" are a clique of Darwinists who have been tyrannizing Wikipedia by insisting that only entries that they approve be allowed. For example, these Darwinists at Wikipedia refused to list Of Pandas and People as a banned book because the book was not on the American Library Association's list of banned books. The ALA hocused-pocused that Judge Jones never expressly banned Pandas and that the book was only mentioned in a statement that was banned. Then I pointed out that the ALA rules say that a book that was only "challenged" as part of a curriculum qualifies for the ALA list of banned books and that the Kitzmiller v. Dover complaint demanded that Pandas be removed from classrooms, and the ALA still would not budge. Then I pointed out that the ALA's own records showed that the book was previously "challenged," and the stubborn jackasses at the ALA still would not budge! Then the clowns at Wikipedia rewrote the whole banned-book article rather than concede that Pandas qualified as a banned book under the old article's rules! I proposed just listing the book on Wikipedia and then adding links to off-site discussions of the controversy over listing the book, but my proposal fell on deaf ears. What in hell were the Wikipedia and ALA jerks trying to prove by not listing Pandas as a banned book? The Darwinist hypocrites want to have their cake and eat it too -- to give themselves a false feeling of tolerance, they want Pandas to be banned but not included in lists of banned books. On Wikipedia, this scandal is documented here, here, and here. My blog's articles about this scandal are here, here, here, and here.

Darwinist tyrannization of Wikipedia is also discussed here.

Also, there was a dispute over whether to include in William Dembski's biography some comments that DaveScot had posted on my blog. That idea was finally killed.

This loss to Wikipedia's credibility is really sad because Wikipedia's scientific articles were once praised as being comparable in accuracy to those of the online version of the vaunted Encyclopedia Britannica.

It has been reported that a rival to Wikipedia will soon be launched and that this rival will supposedly correct these problems of Wikipedia:

One of the founders of Wikipedia is days away from launching a rival to the collaborative internet encyclopaedia, in an attempt to bring a more orderly approach to organising knowledge online.

Wikipedia –- which is available to be written and edited by anyone on the internet –- is one of the most visible successes of mass collaboration on the web, with many of its 1.4m articles appearing high in search results.

However, its openness has also drawn charges of unreliability and left it vulnerable to disputes between people with opposing views, particularly on politically sensitive topics.

The latest venture from Larry Sanger, who helped create Wikipedia in 2001, is intended to bring more order to this creative chaos by drawing on traditional measures of authority. Though still open to submissions from anyone, the power to authorise articles will be given to editors who can prove their expertise, as well as a group of volunteer “constables”, charged with keeping the peace between warring interests.

However, readers who post biased views are not the only problem -- the "editors" and volunteer "constables" who already tyrannize the present Wikipedia are also a problem, regardless of their qualifications. I suggest that one way to resolve disputes is just to post the disputed item along with (1) a brief note that the item is disputed and (2) links to off-site websites where the dispute is discussed or debated. This approach has the following advantages: (1) there is no appearance that the item is undisputed or endorsed by Wikipedia and (2) the Wikipedia text is not cluttered up with long debates over disputed items.

Wikipedia has long been one of my favorite references and I very much want to see its integrity restored.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Neurosurgeon touches raw nerve

The Darwinists' reaction to neurosurgeon Dr. Egnor's questioning of the usefulness of Darwinism in medicine has been strong and hostile. A long list of links to blog articles about Dr. Egnor's heresy is here.


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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Parallel evolution of no-censorship blogs

I have been running this blog for nearly a year and all this time I didn't realize that there was another blog similar to this one -- a no-censorship blog dealing with the evolution controversy. The other blog deals specifically with the evolution controversy whereas my blog also deals with other subjects, particularly the Holocaust. The masthead of the other blog, titled Languedoc Diary: A neutral venue and run by Alan Fox, says,
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A place where IDers and Darwinists can post without the chance of arbitrary deletion, (obscenity and spam excepted). Self-moderation is requested, no other moderation will be applied.

I am adding this blog to my list of external links. I don't want to add too many more external links, though. I have seen link lists stretching into three figures and there is no way to tell which linked websites are the best ones.

I suspect that Alan has not had as much trouble with trolls as I have. Voice in the Wilderness in particular has been a fly in the ointment on this blog. I don't need to answer most of his breathtakingly inane comments, but those comments clutter up this blog with junk. Kevin Vicklund and Bob Serranos have also been big problems with their specious legal arguments that are nitpicking, hairsplitting, convoluted, illogical, and attempts to read people's minds.

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Panda's Thumb receives another undeserved web award

The Panda's Thumb blog, which engages in the unscholarly and anti-intellectual practice of arbitrary censorship of comments and commenters, has received yet another undeserved web award, this time a listing in Thomson Scientific's ISI Web of Knowledge list of scholarly scientific websites. By arbitrary censorship, I mean censorship of comments and commenters merely because they disagree with the position of the blogger or other website administrator. Websites that practice arbitrary censorship are showing their intent to present just one sides of issues. Panda's Thumb's arbitrary censorship is documented here, here, and here. The ISI Web of Knowledge's logo may be seen near the top of the sidebar of Panda's Thumb's main page. Thomson Scientific's website says,
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Nearly 50 years after Dr. Eugene Garfield began collecting and indexing scholarly research data, Thomson Scientific continues his emphasis on quality and relevance – carefully selecting and indexing the core literature published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, books, and proceedings.

Built upon a well-established selection process, the multidisciplinary Thomson Scientific database is the foundation of every ISI Web of Knowledge resource. Editors selecting content for these resources rely on various indicators, including citation analysis, journal publishing standards, and the confirmation of the application of peer review. With these tools, Thomson Scientific can assess the scholarly merit of the journals being evaluated for coverage.

The explosion of the Internet during the latter part of the 1990’s, however, radically altered the way people find and share information. Although scholarly journals still remain the vehicle of choice for conveying research results, the Internet has become an important research tool. Through searching the Internet, researchers and scholars can find relevant ancillary materials that would not normally appear in journals or books. . . . . .

The Internet also enables researchers from all around the world to participate in common projects and contribute to (or search) shared, interactive databases. Bulletin boards and discussion forums allow people to communicate freely and effectively with others in their research community
(emphasis added) . . . . .

Sounds a little like what I've been saying, doesn't it?

The website continues,

Because of the power and popularity of the Internet, Thomson Scientific made the decision several years ago to complement the extensive bibliographic information we already provide our customers by developing a collection of scholarly Web sites – Current Web Contents (CWC). To do this, the Web Content Editors in the Editorial Development Department identify Web sites and evaluate them by determining how the Web site adheres to a number of selection criteria. These criteria include authority, accuracy, currency, navigation and design, applicability and content, scope, audience level, and quality of writing. (emphasis added)

Despite the point about people supposedly being allowed to "communicate freely and effectively with others in their research community," Thomson Scientific's selection criteria do not include freedom from arbitrary censorship of comments and commenters.

Thomson Scientific's website continues,

Objective, correct, referenced, or professionally sponsored information is a mark of accuracy. An indication of bias, however, could be a mark of inaccuracy. Bias is possible with for-profit sponsorship of research or with sponsorship by advocacy groups. For example, a conflict of interest may arise when a for-profit pharmaceutical firm hosts a pharmaceutical society page or when a nuclear engineering trade association sponsors a site on nuclear energy.

Arbitrary censorship of comments and commenters is also an indication of bias, but the above statement implies that bias occurs only with for-profit sponsorship of research or sponsorship by advocacy groups, and that is simply not true. I guess that Panda's Thumb's group of bloggers could conceivably be classified as an "advocacy group," but arbitrary censorship is practiced by a lot of individual bloggers too.

Thomson Scientific is treating arbitrary Internet censorship as though it doesn't exist.

The folks at Panda's Thumb will hocus-pocus that I was banned there because I used multiple names, but I was banned there before I started using multiple names. And Wesley Elsberry, who I am told is the official owner of Panda's Thumb, has personally deleted reasonable comments on both Panda's Thumb and his personal blog, Austringer.

The practice of arbitrary censorship by an officially recognized scientific website is particularly bad because that censorship impairs that website's integrity, reliability and credibility as a scientific reference. These are not just websites about underwater basketweaving. I think that when a website is considered to be important enough to be listed in a scientific database, it is not too much to expect the operators of that website to behave in a responsible manner.

A lot of organizations regard this blog as an insignificant little blog that they can safely ignore, and being a holocaust revisionist certainly does not add to my overall influence. But while it is true that my daily-visitor statistics are fairly low, in the range of only 30-60 visits per day, my pageview-per-visit and time-per-visit statistics are probably breaking all records. Visits of over 10 page views and/or over 1 hour are rare on other blogs, but I estimate that between 1 in 10 and 1 in 20 of this blog's visits are in these categories (to see these statistics, click on the Site Meter icon at the bottom of the sidebar, then click on "By details"). A lot of people who visit this blog come here for serious business. And no, ViW, they don't come here and spend all that time just for the laughs. I am just not that funny.

Protests of Thomson Scientific's listing of Panda's Thumb may be made by means of the contact information listed here. Several Thomson Scientific offices have toll-free 1-800 numbers -- the toll-free number for the headquarters office for the Americas is 1 800 336 4474. Contact information for the ISI (Information Sciences Institute) is here.

I have also objected to Jay Wexler's citations of Panda's Thumb in a paper, "Intelligent Design and the First Amendment: A Response", that was published in a law journal. Protests may be sent to Jay Wexler at

jaywex@bu.edu

Boston University - School of Law
765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston , MA 02215

Jay Wexler actually wants you to send him an email -- he says, "Won't You Please Send Me An Email at jaywex@bu.edu ?" I for one will be more than happy to oblige him.

The law journal that will publish his paper may be contacted at --

Washington University Law Quarterly

Contact: Editor in Chief
Email: quarter@wulaw.wustl.edu
Postal: Washington University School of Law
AB Hall
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130 USA

As a saying goes, "if you always do what you always do, you will always get what you've always got." I like to tell a story about a dissident engineer, Irwin Feerst, who was trying to get an invitation to testify before a Senate committee and was getting nowhere. Then just 50 of his supporters from around the country sent in a form letter from one of his newsletters and he was invited immediately.
.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Darwinist bigotry goes off the deep end

In the worst example of intolerance that I have ever seen on the Internet, a Darwinist blogger who was criticizing another website's article cut off his nose to spite his face by refusing to post a link to that article in an effort to minimize generating more traffic at that article's website! An introduction to an article on the blog of Mark Chu-Carroll (aka MarkCC) said,

Today's bit of basics is inspired by that bastion of shitheaded ignorance, Dr. Michael Egnor. In part of his latest screed (a podcast with Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute), Egnor discusses antibiotic resistance, and along the way, asserts that the theory of evolution has no relevance to antibiotic resistance, because what evolution says about the subject is just a tautology. (I'm deliberately not linking to the podcast; I will not help increase the hit-count that DI will use to promote it's agenda of willful ignorance.) (emphasis added)

Furthermore, not that it matters, but in over a year of being a frequent visitor to the DI's Evolution News & Views website, I have never seen that website advertise its hit-count statistics or make them available to readers by means of a "Site Meter" (this blog has a Site Meter icon at the bottom of the left sidebar) or something similar.

In the introduction to a later post, MarkCC tries to turn Dr. Egnor into a kind of non-person by not even mentioning him by name but by referring to him as "the Discovery Institute's most recent addition" (however, the post does later mention Egnor by name):
So the Discovery Institute's most recent addition has chosen to reply to my post about tautologies. (Once again, I'm not linking to him; I will not willingly be a source of hits for the DI website when they're promoting dangerous ingorance like this.)

This is a new low on the scales of censorship and quote mining -- trying to make it hard for readers to see the contexts of quotations or paraphrases. One of the problems here is that Egnor has posted several recent articles on the Evolution News & Views website, so it is not apparent which particular article -- if any -- MarkCC is referring to. What kind of credibility does MarkCC have, or should he have?

Not even the legendary Darwinist bigot PZ Myers has practiced this kind of censorship. PZ, who has called this blog a "bottomless pit of stupidity," posted a link to it, causing my visitor count to spike to about 250 in a single day --- by far the highest number I have ever recorded (I normally get 30-60 visitors a day and the second-highest number I have seen was 80).

One would think that MarkCC's intolerance and censorship would be too much even for other Darwinists, but no. In a post on Panda's Thumb, Mike Dunford praises the second of MarkCC's preceding posts.

Anyway, Egnor's view that Darwinism is overrated as a research tool is not unusual among professionals in biology-related fields -- similar views by such professionals are expressed here, here, here, and here. And why can't scientists just see Darwinism as a kind of hokey concept that is not necessarily true but that is nonetheless sometimes useful in guiding research? As an engineer, I know that engineers often use analytical methods that are non-intuitive and often even counter-intuitive -- for example, imaginary numbers and complex-plane vectors are used in the analysis of AC circuits, and in the Joukowski transformation of conformal mapping, rotating cylinders are used to determine the aerodynamics of fixed-wing airfoils.


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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Outhouse wall for outhouse poets

This post is reserved for limericks and other poetry. I recommend that poetry already posted elsewhere on this blog be copied under this post.

This post has its own post label -- "Limericks and other poetry" -- and a link in the left sidebar.

The post title is a parody of Panda's Thumb's infamous Bathroom Wall, a dumping place for censored comments.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Judge Jones' jawboning about jawbones

Judge Jones ruled in Kitzmiller v. Dover that the evolutionary principle of "exaptation" was "well-recognized" and "well-documented." He stated that the evolution of jawbones into mammalian middle-ear bones was an example of exaptation, but it is now evident that the evidence for this evolution was insufficient.

The Kitzmiller opinion says (pages 74-75),

As expert testimony revealed, the qualification on what is meant by "irreducible complexity" renders it meaningless as a criticism of evolution. (3:40 (Miller)). In fact, the theory of evolution proffers exaptation as a well-recognized, well-documented explanation for how systems with multiple parts could have evolved through natural means. Exaptation means that some precursor of the subject system had a different, selectable function before experiencing the change or addition that resulted in the subject system with its present function (16:146-48 (Padian)). For instance, Dr. Padian identified the evolution of the mammalian middle ear bones from what had been jawbones as an example of this process. (17:6-17 (Padian)). By defining irreducible complexity in the way that he has, Professor Behe attempts to exclude the phenomenon of exaptation by definitional fiat, ignoring as he does so abundant evidence which refutes his argument. (emphasis added)

However, a news article reported that a "missing link" in the evolution of jawbones into middle-ear bones has now been discovered:

WASHINGTON (March 13) - Scientists have unearthed a fossil of a mammal the size of a chipmunk that skittered around with the dinosaurs, with a key feature in the evolution of mammals -- the middle ear bones -- fabulously preserved.

Writing in the journal Nature on Wednesday, the scientists said the unusual critter retrieved from a fossil-rich rock formation in northern China provides rare insight into a crucial element of mammalian evolution: ear structure that enabled highly sensitive hearing. . . .

The mammal, named Yanoconodon for the Yan Mountains in China's Hebei Province, lived 125 million years ago during the Cretaceous period, the third and final act of the Mesozoic era, sometimes called the Age of Dinosaurs. . . .

Luo said Yanoconodon is particularly important because it displays an intermediate stage in the evolution of mammalian ear structure. . . .

Scientists long have searched for clues on the origins of mammalian ear structure. . . .

A sophisticated middle ear of three tiny bones called the hammer (malleus), the anvil (incus) and the stirrup (stapes), plus a bony ring for the eardrum (tympanic membrane), give mammals an acute sense of hearing.

Scientists believe these bones evolved from the bones of the jaw hinge in the reptiles from which mammals are thought to have evolved. Luo said the Yanoconodon provided a definitive piece of evidence of this evolution.

The ear bones in Yanoconodon are fully like that of modern mammals, but remain connected to the lower jaw, which is not the case with modern mammals.

In the Kitzmiller trial, Darwinist expert witness Padian presented this evolution of jawbones into middle-ear bones as an example of "exaptation." This evolution was therefore presumably the best or one of the best examples of exaptation. So this fossil discovery shows that at least one important piece of evidence of this evolution of jawbones into middle-ear bones was missing at the time of the trial, and therefore exaptation was not as "well-recognized" and "well-documented" as Jones seemed to think it was.

The Darwinists are now going to crow that this fossil discovery supports Jones' ruling on exaptation. But this after-the-fact discovery is just serendipitous dumb luck for which Jones does not deserve any credit at all.

There are several reasons why judges should try to avoid ruling on scientific questions.

The whole stupid Kitzmiller opinion should be smote with the jawbone of an ass.

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Darwinist calls for spoonfeeding students

An op-ed by Dave Thomas in the Albuquerque Tribune said,

In this session of the New Mexico Legislature, no fewer than two bills and two resolutions supporting "intelligent design creationism" were proposed . . . .

The carefully crafted "academic freedom" measures made no specific mention of intelligent design. But it was clearly the driving purpose behind these, which would have permitted and encouraged teachers to present so-called weaknesses of evolution science in biology classes.

"No fewer" than two bills and two resolutions? Well, we can't get any fewer than the number two for the bills and we can't get much fewer than the number two for the resolutions. The two houses of the legislature just had a pair of identical companion bills and a pair of identical resolutions.

There is that old false "contrived dualism" again, where there are only two alternatives, evolution theory and "intelligent design creationism." Also, the term "intelligent design creationism" is intended to fool the public because there is a great difference between ID and biblical creationism -- ID is based on scientific (pseudoscientific to some) observations and reasoning and makes no references to religious sources. The bible does not mention irreducible complexity, DNA, bacterial flagella, etc..

The op-ed continued,

The measures would have also have given students the "right and freedom to reach their own conclusions about biological origins."

We don't encourage students to "reach their own conclusions" on how to add fractions. Why should we suddenly do so with the biosciences?

The comparison to adding fractions is a straw man. There are only a few simple ways to add fractions and adding fractions is not controversial -- either the fraction-adding method is correct or it is not. And if students can find new ways to add fractions, fine. When the great mathematician Leonhard Euler was in grade school, his teacher assigned the students the task of adding all the numbers from 1 to 100. Euler successively paired numbers from the bottom and the top, i.e., 1 and 100, 2 and 99, 3 and 98, etc.. The sum of each pair is 101 and there are 50 pairs, so the sum is simply 50 X 101 or 5050.

Students should be encouraged to do critical thinking rather than being spoonfed.

I myself found fault with the New Mexico bills, but not for the reasons given by Dave Thomas.

Thomas's op-ed is also criticized by Casey Luskin in Evolution News & Views.


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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Nice Holocaust denial cartoon


From the National Post (Canada) Feb. 16, 2007

=====================================

Talk about double standards! LOL

IMO prison stripes on Zundel and Irving would add to the humor.

I got this one from the website of the Institute for Historical Review.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Darwin-doubting doctors

An article in Panda's Thumb disputes the Discovery Institute's interpretation of the results of a poll of physicians' opinions about the evolution controversy. There are two online versions of the poll, here and here, and the pollsters' discussion of the poll is here. This poll is discussed in a previous post on this blog and a related post on this blog is here.

The PT article says, for example,

78% of doctors say that they accept evolution; only 15% reject it. Yet according to Egnor, “most doctors don’t accept evolutionary biology”. The survey quite clearly and overwhelmingly shows this to be wrong.

However, a lot depends on how the questions are worded -- for example, Q7 in that same opinion poll showed that only 38.50 percent of the respondents agreed with the statement, "Humans evolved naturally with no supernatural involvement -- no divinity played any role."

Any of the results of that poll shows that Darwin doubting among doctors is surprisingly high. In contrast, a 2002 poll of Ohio scientists -- a fairly old poll -- showed that 90 percent said that intelligent design is not supported at all by scientific evidence. BTW, I think that old opinion polls concerning the evolution controversy should be repeated now because the great publicity about the Kitzmiller v. Dover case probably caused a lot of people to rethink their positions about the controversy.

This widespread Darwin doubting among doctors must be embarrassing to Darwinists because Darwinists have been stereotyping Darwin doubters as uneducated fundies whereas doctors have above-average educations in biology.


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Extinct evolutionary biology major cloned

A previous post reported that evolutionary biology became extinct on a list of acceptable fields of study for recipients of a federal education grant for low-income college students. EB has been successfully cloned and is now back on the list (page 7).


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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Reviews of reviews of "Monkey Girl"

The Amazon.com webpage on "Monkey Girl" has added some more reviews, including four more customer reviews (including one from me) and reviews from the Washington Post and "Booklist." Here I will review the Booklist review, the Washington Post review, and linked off-site reviews in the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times:

BOOKLIST REVIEW (copyrighted by the American Library Association -- this review is right under the Washington Post review)

This review says,
Some see the 2005 case of Kitzmiller v.Dover, concerning a small-town school board's adding an "intelligent design" (i.e., anti-Darwinian) text to the ninth-grade science curriculum, as the second Scopes trial. But whereas evolution lost in 1925, it won in 2005.

Evolution didn't really "lose" in 1925. After the Scopes trial in Tennessee, only two other states, Arkansas and Mississippi, adopted "monkey laws," and the legislatures of two other states passed anti-evolution resolutions. Possibly the only other state that had a monkey law, Oklahoma, repealed it in 1926 (Wikipedia says that South Carolina and Kentucky also had monkey laws but I have been unable to confirm this). And evolution didn't really "win" in 2005, because the Kitzmiller decision was not appealed (and hence there is no higher-court decision) and because the controversy is now bigger than ever.

Hence, religion was central in the earlier, science in the later, trial.

Neither science nor religion was officially central to the Scopes trial. There was a little scientific testimony but the judge struck it from the official record, prosecutor William Jennings Bryan's religious testimony was also struck from the official record, and there was no judgment of the constitutionality of the "monkey" law. An account of the Scopes trial is here. Both science and religion were central to the Kitzmiller trial -- Judge Jones ruled that intelligent design is both religious and unscientific.

Humes' clear reportorial style and sympathy for all the principals in Kitzmiller (except, perhaps, for the school board's hired-gun lead attorney) ensure the high interest of both aspects of the book.

We should forget about this idea that Humes was sympathetic towards the pro-ID side.

BTW, as discussed here, here, here, and here, I had a run-in with those stubborn jackasses at the American Library Association -- the source of the Booklist review -- over their refusal to put Of Pandas and People on their list of banned books.

==============================

WASHINGTON POST REVIEW

This review says,
. . . .critics of ID argue that it is merely a more sophisticated way of promoting "creation science," which rejects evolutionary theory in favor of a literal reading of the book of Genesis and therefore promotes the teaching of religion in public schools.

"Creation science," previously called "scientific creationism," is not based on a literal reading of Genesis, but is based on scientific (or pseudoscientific, to some) observation and reasoning.

In 2004, when the Dover, Penn., school board voted to require biology classes to use a supplemental textbook that promoted the theory of intelligent design rather than evolution, the conflict that erupted was about far more than semantics.

Of Pandas and People was officially a reference textbook, not a supplemental textbook. It was not required reading.

They brought their case, Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District, with the aid of the ACLU, the National Center for Science Education and lawyers from the Philadelphia firm Pepper Hamilton.

There were also plaintiffs' attorneys of record from the Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The NCSE assisted the plaintiffs but had no attorneys of record in the case.

Defending the Dover school board was a Michigan-based public interest law firm, the Thomas More Law Center, and, initially, the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, a nonprofit research institute that has tried to make ID a palatable alternative to evolutionary theory.

DI did not provide attorneys but provided expert witnesses for the defendants. Some of the DI's witnesses left as a result of a dispute with the TMLC and other DI witnesses stayed.

Although his own sympathies clearly are with the defenders of evolutionary theory, Humes makes a strenuous effort to be fair-minded.

I wouldn't call his effort "strenuous."

Judge John E. Jones III, a Republican, emerges as the hero in Humes's tale.

Judge Jones is actually a villain, not a hero. For example, several legal experts have criticized his decisions in the case, particularly his decision to rule on the scientific merits of intelligent design, and many of these critics apparently had no ax to grind -- in fact, one legal-expert critic, Jay Wexler, is openly anti-ID (several articles about legal experts' criticisms of the Kitzmiller decision are listed here). Jones did several bad or questionable things that are not mentioned in the book, e.g.: (1) in a commencement speech at Dickinson College, he showed great hostility towards organized religions by saying that they are not "true" religions; (2) he arbitrarily denied the intervention motion of the Foundation for Thought and Ethics, the publisher of the book Of Pandas and People, and then after thus denying FTE a fair opportunity to defend the book, he thoroughly trashed the book in his written opinion; and (3) his opinion's ID-as-science section was virtually entirely copied from the plaintiffs' opening post-trial brief (the discovery of this copying probably came too late for consideration for inclusion in the book). There are numerous other criticisms of his rulings and other actions.

And there we go again with that trite "Republican churchgoing conservative Dubya-appointee" sort of stuff.

In his eloquent ruling for the plaintiffs, which should be read by every student of law, he noted, "This case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy."

Large parts of his "eloquent ruling" were ghostwritten by the ACLU et al.. And Judge Jones was the activist, not the school board. Contrary to claims that the school board members "knew" that their ID policy would be struck down by the courts, the board had almost no court precedent to use for guidance regarding evolution-disclaimer statements in public-school science classes.

Even before Jones issued his ruling, the citizens of Dover reached their own verdict: In the next school board election, "every one of the eight incumbents who favored intelligent design was ousted," Humes writes.

The school board elections were close and the defeat of the incumbents was at least partly attributed to taxpayers' concern about the cost of the lawsuit.

His story would have benefited from a more nuanced examination of Christian fundamentalism (and the ways in which it differs from evangelical Protestantism).

Is there any clear distinction between "Christian fundamentalism" and "evangelical Protestantism"? Aren't the two terms nearly synonymous?

. . .as Humes himself notes, you need not be a fundamentalist to have sympathy for the scriptural story of creation.

The scriptural story of creation is not the only alternative to Darwinism.

Humes's book is a compelling account of that struggle, and likely not the last salvo in the battle between evolution and intelligent design.

There we go again with that "contrived dualism," where it is assumed that ID is the only alternative to evolution.

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CHICAGO TRIBUNE REVIEW

This review says,
Citizens in more than two dozen states agitate to introduce the supernatural in public school science classes.

This is not just about the supernatural -- this is also about the weaknesses of Darwinism.

Why Americans continue to pit religion against science in a fruitless struggle most other developed nations abandoned long ago is the question at the heart of Edward Humes' compelling "Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul."

The evolution controversy is not just a pitting of religion against science. And an international opinion poll showed that there is widespread skepticism of Darwinism in many other developed nations. The list of this blog's articles about the evolution controversy abroad is here (i.e., the list of articles with the "evolution controversy abroad" label).

It was represented pro bono by the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Mich.; its Web site identified its mission as being "to defend and protect Christians and their religious beliefs in the public square." It was, Humes notes, just one of the ironic elements in a frail defense case that had religious fingerprints all over it.

That is simply guilt by association. The plaintiffs' prosecution case had religious fingerprints all over it, too -- for example, Ken Miller, the lead plaintiff expert witness, was the author of "Finding Darwin's God -- A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution."

Alone among industrialized nations, America not only is steeped in religious faith but remains deeply suspicious of science. This is particularly true in the case of Darwin's nearly 150-year-old theory of evolution, which holds that all life on Earth shares common ancestors and developed through random mutation and natural selection over some 4 billion years.

As I said above, an international opinion poll showed widespread skepticism of Darwinism in many other developed nations.

Moreover, a majority of the public, including President Bush, says evolution and creationism (or intelligent design), should be taught in public-school science classes.

They do not necessarily want creationism or ID per se to be taught, but think that the weaknesses as well as the strengths of evolution should be taught.

This is the so-called balanced or equal-time approach to science that the U.S. Supreme Court most recently rejected in 1987.

In Edwards v. Aguillard, the Supreme Court rejected the equal-time approach but the SC has never ruled on evolution-disclaimer statements.

But opponents of evolution still try to employ it, partly because, in a nation with low scientific literacy, it appeals to Americans' sense of fair play and desire to hear both sides of a story.

What does a sense of fair play and desire to hear both sides of a story have to do with an alleged low scientific literacy? It seems that fair-minded people who are firmly convinced that Darwinism is correct would want others to hear both sides of the story in order to be able to decide for themselves.

For science educators, it is a battle for the minds of children who will have to compete in a world where a sound understanding of science will be the price of admission to a universe of new technologies.

The Darwinists have never adequately explained how there is a connection between international technological competitiveness and public knowledge and acceptance of Darwinism.

On Dec. 20, 2005, Judge John E. Jones III delivered a landmark verdict in the Kitzmiller case . . ."

"Landmark verdict"? I predict that the Kitzmiller decision will be just a footnote in history. As just an unappealed decision of a single judge, it would have little precedential value even if it were a good decision.

The ruling is binding only on the federal district that includes Dover, but it is seen as influential on school boards around the country.

I would bet my last dollar that the ruling is not binding precedent even in Jones' own Middle District of Pennsylvania federal court. The ruling is influential on school boards around the country mainly because of a fear of exorbitant awards of plaintiffs' attorney fees, but that fear is likely to end soon because there is a very good chance that Congress will soon ban or cap those fee awards in establishment clause cases (this blog's articles about those attorney fee awards are listed here).

A new term, emergence theory, has been bandied about as a possible successor to intelligent design.

I never liked that name "intelligent design" -- it has caused a lot of trouble because it implies the existence of a supernatural designer.

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LOS ANGELES TIMES REVIEW

This is the most rabidly pro-Darwinist review of the bunch.

This review says,
The Dover case was more than simply a reflection of the poor state of the U.S. educational system or an illumination of how religion and science might collide in one small town. Instead, Humes explains, it was the latest salvo in a long-standing war on evolutionary thought that can be traced back to 1859 and Charles Darwin's seminal work on the subject, "The Origin of Species" — a book that, in the eyes of most believers, threatened to turn God's masterpiece into "nothing more than a happy accident … no better (or worse) than a marsupial or mollusk."

"Poor state of the US educational system"?

Certainly the science v. religion conflict has been a large part of the evolution controversy, but many of the critics of Darwinism -- including many scientific experts -- are not motivated by religion.

Humes points out that many faiths — Roman Catholicism, for example — have come to terms with evolution.

Prominent Roman Catholic cardinal Christoph Schoenborn has said that he wants to correct what he calls a widespread misconception that the Catholic Church has given a blanket endorsement to Darwin's theories.

Those who don't accept Darwin's premise often mischaracterize it; for instance, Darwin never said that human beings were descended from monkeys, despite this favored refrain of the creationists.

Darwin did say that human beings are descended from monkeys -- in fact, his "Origin of Species" was followed up by his "Descent of Man."

Humes also notes that those who embrace the Bible's account of human origins might find more contradictions or gaps there than they would like.

And those who embrace Darwinism might find more contradictions or gaps there than they would like.

Johnson exhibits little of the fire and brimstone of his creationist counterparts. But Humes demonstrates that beneath the gentle exterior lurks the mind of a trial lawyer, one bent on the destruction of evolutionary theory.

So criticisms of evolution may be dismissed as just one big conspiracy.

In Dover and elsewhere, the anti-evolution argument was carried forward by a bit of ingenious hocus-pocus called "intelligent design," a theory that is little more than creationism in new, more complicated clothing.

Intelligent design is radically different from biblical creationism -- irreducible complexity, DNA, bacterial flagella, etc. are mentioned nowhere in the bible.

The L.A. Times review of course also ignores the fact that there are non-ID criticisms of Darwinism.

In desperate efforts to counter criticisms of Darwinism, Darwinists often resort to misrepresentation, stereotyping, conspiracy theories, and charges of guilt by association.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Dr. Egnor is hard to ignore

There has been a tremendous amount of controversy lately about the anti-Darwinist views of Dr. Michael Egnor, a brain surgeon. The Darwinists, who have been stereotyping Darwin doubters as a bunch of uneducated fundies, seem to be especially embarrassed that a prominent brain surgeon like Dr. Egnor is a Darwin doubter. Actually, Egnor is not unusual -- a formal opinion poll showed that surprisingly large percentages of medical doctors are Darwin doubters (the poll questions were asked in several different ways, producing different percentages). It has been noted that engineers have a strong tendency to doubt Darwin, but at least engineers can be dismissed as people who do not have above-average educations in biology. But doctors, though not considered to be experts about evolution, at least have above-average educations in biology. The Darwin-doubting tendency of engineers is attributed to their ability to detect design because of their training in design, but so far as I know there has been no explanation for the doctors' tendency to doubt Darwin.

There is even an essay contest -- with prizes -- for high school students on the subject, "Why I would want my doctor to have studied evolution." An article on Panda's Thumb attempts to answer that question. However, Dr. Egnor says that he never uses evolutionary biology in his work.

Articles about the Egnor controversy are too numerous to list here. These articles may be found on many of the sites listed here, especially on Pharyngula, Dispatches from the Culture Wars, Uncommon Descent, and Evolution News & Views (and, of course, don't forget Panda's Thumb).


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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Internet Censorship Hall of Shame

Arbitrary censorship, besides being generally reprehensible, tends to undermine one of the greatest features of the Internet: a quantum leap in the dissemination and discussion of ideas. Hopefully cyberculture will change to make arbitrary Internet censorship widely frowned upon.

Here is the list of dishonorees:

(1) Panda's Thumb -- multiblogger Darwinist blog. Practices IP address banning, which can block many people who share the targeted commenter's proxy IP address. PT created the hypocritical "Bathroom Wall", a place to dump undesired comments while pretending that those comments are not being censored. Has received undeserved blogging awards: a 2005 Scientific American magazine award and a 2006 award for being a finalist in a contest for best science blog. As a blog that practices arbitrary censorship, was arguably improperly cited in a law journal paper by Jay Wexler.

(2) Pharyngula -- personal blog of Darwinist PZ Myers. Has a "killfile dungeon" which lists banned and unwelcome commenters (I am at the top of the list). A very popular blog, getting about three times as many visitors per day as Panda's Thumb and Uncommon Descent, which are popular multiblogger blogs. Pharyngula received an undeserved 2006 award as winner of a contest for the best science blog.

(3) Uncommon Descent -- multiblogger anti-Darwinist blog. Darwinists have made many complaints that this blog practices arbitrary censorship. Unlike some other blogs that practice arbitrary censorship, UD makes no bones about it. Info about comment policy is here, here, and here.

(4) Dispatches From the Culture Wars -- personal blog of Darwinist Ed Brayton (this blog's posts about Ed are listed here and here). His blog has taken numerous potshots at me after I was banned there. Ed is also a blogger on Panda's Thumb.

(5) Austringer -- personal blog of Darwinist Wesley Elsberry. When I was unable to post comments there and asked for his help, he told me to use trackbacks instead of posting comments. It did no good to tell him that my blog service does not support trackbacks. When others said that they were having trouble with trackbacks, he said, "this is so-o-o-o not my problem." Elsberry is also a blogger (and, I have been told, is actually the blog owner) at Panda's Thumb. He has arbitrarily deleted my comments on both Austringer and Panda's Thumb.

(6) Thoughts from Kansas -- personal blog of Darwinist Josh Rosenau. When I was unable to post a comment on his blog, I asked him to do me the favor of posting the comment for me. He rudely refused, saying that my problem was due to my "incompetent inability" to post comments.

(7) Scienceblogs -- the blog service for many Darwinist blogs, including Pharyngula, Dispatches from the Culture Wars, and Thoughts from Kansas. When I complained to the Scienceblogs webmaster that I couldn't post comments, he told me that the problem was that individual bloggers were blocking my comments. When I told him that I couldn't post comments on any of Scienceblogs' approximately 50 blogs and that I therefore suspected that he was deliberately blocking my comments without telling me, he flew into a rage. On the two occasions when I was unable to post comments on Scienceblogs' blogs, the problems appeared to disappear spontaneously after a few days, apparently with no help from the webmaster.

(8) Kevin Vicklund -- frequently charges on another blog that a comment on that blog was posted by me under a false name. He has also been a frequent commenter on this blog, taking advantage of my no-censorship policy while he promotes censorship on other blogs.

(9) "Rilke's Granddaughter" -- a commenter on Panda's Thumb who is guilty of the same crime as Kevin Vicklund. Posted a few comments here in the first few weeks of this blog.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Comments censored elsewhere -- a new feature

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Please read the rules before entering comments.

Rule change -- I have decided to allow comments on any subject. This rescinds Rule #5.

Often, when I am reading a post or a comment on a blog (or other website) where I have been or expect to be censored, I want to respond to some article or comment but I don't feel that my response is worth a whole article on this blog. Therefore, I decided to set up this post here where I can post responses to those other blogs without creating whole new articles. I feel that it is only fair that I allow visitors to also post responses here to other blogs where they are censored or expect censorship. Please follow these rules (listen up, Voice in the Wilderness):

(1) Do not respond here to any comment posted here -- this feature is not intended for long discussions. If you feel that you must respond to a comment posted here, try to do it in the other blog, either quoting or linking to the comment here.

(2) Follow the usual rules of commenting etiquette, i.e., avoid posting anything that is unlawful, threatening, extremely abusive, tortious, obscene, libelous, or invasive of another's privacy.

(3) Do not respond here to articles where commenting is closed to all. My main purpose here is to counter some bloggers' unfairness of allowing some reasonable comments and commenters but not others.

(4) Do not post vacuous comments here, i.e., comments that just say that the original author is wrong or stupid -- or something like that -- and nothing more.

(5) (this rule has been rescinded) Try to stick to topics that have been discussed on this blog. A list of topics is in the post label list in the left sidebar.

(6) Try to create a direct link to the article or comment that you are answering. Direct links to individual comments in comment threads can often be created by clicking on a particular feature in the comment, e.g., the comment number on Panda's Thumb and the time & date on this blog. The format for turning text into links (i.e., creating "embedded links") is shown here.

(7) Because visitors here may not be up to speed on what you are responding to, you might add here a brief introductory or explanatory note that you would not put in your comment if you were posting it on the other site.

A permanent link to this feature has been posted in the left sidebar.

Also, I will create a list here of blogs and other websites that are known to practice arbitrary censorship.

This is sort of reverse censorship -- maybe a first for the Internet!

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Upcoming Dover school board elections

A news article reports that five seats on the Dover Area School Board will be open in the next elections and that four incumbents and four outsiders (the outsiders are not necessarily all challengers, because some may be running for the seat being vacated) have submitted applications for the May primary.

If challengers in this race seriously want to win, they will make a big issue about the failure of the incumbents to repeal the previous board's intelligent-design policy in early December 2005, prior to release of the Kitzmiller v. Dover decision. This failure to repeal may have cost the school district $1 million in attorney fees that were paid to the plaintiffs. There was no excuse for not repealing the ID policy immediately, because the incumbents had campaigned on a promise to repeal it. The board could have scheduled a "special" meeting if the board did not want to repeal the ID policy at the Dec. 2005 regular meeting because a proposal to repeal was not on the agenda (Pennsylvania law does not require advance notice of items that are discussed and voted upon by public bodies). Even though Judge Jones had said that the preceding election in which previous board members were ousted would have no effect on his decision, including of course his decision to award attorney fees to the plaintiffs, an appeals court might have overruled him on the attorney fee award issue if the ID policy had been repealed prior to the decision. The hypocrites on the current board have blamed the previous board members for the attorney fee award while they themselves did nothing to try to avoid the award. Taxpayers' anger about the fee award can very easily be directed at the incumbents. Many taxpayers just want revenge and will not be interested in hearing some pompous "legal expert" spout off about the "voluntary cessation doctrine" or the "catalyst theory" or some other long-winded arcane legal argument as to why repealing the ID policy before release of the decision supposedly would not have done any good. The last elections were close, so the incumbents should be quite vulnerable.

BTW, some of the incumbents said at the Nov. 2005 board meeting -- before they took office -- that they did not want to repeal the ID policy because they wanted to see what Judge Jones had to say (cost no object). They had no similar curiosity about seeing what the appeals court -- and maybe the Supreme Court -- had to say. How little these board members got for the taxpayers' $1 million is now evident -- for example, the ID-as-science section of the Kitzmiller opinion was virtually entirely ghostwritten by the plaintiffs' attorneys.

One of the incumbents who is seeking re-election, Heather Geesey, is the only member now on the board who voted for the ID policy. She also was the only member of the board who voted against the decision to not appeal the Kitzmiller decision. At least she has been consistent from beginning to end and IMO is the only board member who deserves to be re-elected.

Some of this blog's previous posts concerning this issue are here, here, and here.


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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Anti-intellectual U. of Idaho Pres. banned criticism of Darwinism

Links are in this article on Evolution News & Views.

Also, in a previous post, I reported that the Idaho Science Teachers Association dictatorially banned intelligent design from Idaho public-school science classrooms.


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