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.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Darwinist hypocrites protest proper ouster of education official

Hypocritical Darwinists, who are still persecuting education official Cheri Yecke for public statements she made way back in 2004, are now protesting the proper ouster of an education official who made improper private communications about the controversy over evolution education.

A news article said,

The state's director of science curriculum has resigned after being accused of creating the appearance of bias against teaching intelligent design.

Chris Comer, who has been the Texas Education Agency's director of science curriculum for more than nine years, offered her resignation this month.

In documents obtained Wednesday through the Texas Public Information Act, agency officials said they recommended firing Comer for repeated acts of misconduct and insubordination. But Comer said she thinks political concerns about the teaching of creationism in schools were behind what she describes as a forced resignation.

Agency officials declined to comment, saying it was a personnel issue.

Comer was put on 30 days paid administrative leave shortly after she forwarded an e-mail in late October announcing a presentation being given by Barbara Forrest, author of "Inside Creationism's Trojan Horse," a book that says creationist politics are behind the movement to get intelligent design theory taught in public schools. Forrest was also a key witness in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case concerning the introduction of intelligent design in a Pennsylvania school district. Comer sent the e-mail to several individuals and a few online communities, saying, "FYI."

Agency officials cited the e-mail in a memo recommending her termination. They said forwarding the e-mail not only violated a directive for her not to communicate in writing or otherwise with anyone outside the agency regarding an upcoming science curriculum review, "it directly conflicts with her responsibilities as the Director of Science."

The memo adds, "Ms. Comer's e-mail implies endorsement of the speaker and implies that TEA endorses the speaker's position on a subject on which the agency must remain neutral."

In addition to the e-mail, the memo lists other reasons for recommending termination, including Comer's failure to get prior approval to give a presentation and attend an off-site meeting after she was told in writing this year that there were concerns about her involvement with work outside the agency.

The question is: did she or did she not violate "a directive for her not to communicate in writing or otherwise with anyone outside the agency regarding an upcoming science curriculum review"? I know that Los Angeles County public officials got into deep-shit trouble for violating a rule prohibiting government officials from privately communicating with each other about matters that they will later vote on.

What is worse, the email was a forwarded email that originated with the National Center for Science Education, an organization dedicated to opposing the teaching of criticisms of Darwinism.

The swiftness of the reaction -- a complaint was sent to Comer's supervisors less than two hours after she sent the email -- reflects the gravity of the offense:

The call to fire Comer came from Lizzette Reynolds, who previously worked in the U.S. Department of Education. She also served as deputy legislative director for Gov. George W. Bush. She joined the Texas Education Agency as the senior adviser on statewide initiatives in January.

Reynolds, who was out sick the day Comer forwarded the e-mail, received a copy from an unnamed source and forwarded it to Comer's bosses less than two hours after Comer sent it.

"This is highly inappropriate," Reynolds said in an e-mail to Comer's supervisors. "I believe this is an offense that calls for termination or, at the very least, reassignment of responsibilities."

The news article also said,

As for the e-mail, Comer said she did pause for a "half second" before sending it, but said she thought that because Forrest was a highly credentialed speaker, it would be OK.

That is like the Wickedpedia administrators' argument that it is OK to break the rule against citation of personal blogs if the blog is "notable." So she knew that what she was doing was wrong and is trying to use a "best butter" argument to defend her action. Here is the "best butter" story again, from the Mad Hatter's Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland:

The Hatter was the first to break the silence. `What day of the month is it?' he said, turning to Alice: he had taken his watch out of his pocket, and was looking at it uneasily, shaking it every now and then, and holding it to his ear.

Alice considered a little, and then said `The fourth.'

`Two days wrong!' sighed the Hatter. `I told you butter wouldn't suit the works!' he added looking angrily at the March Hare.

`It was the best butter,' the March Hare meekly replied.

`Yes, but some crumbs must have got in as well,' the Hatter grumbled: `you shouldn't have put it in with the bread-knife.'

The March Hare took the watch and looked at it gloomily: then he dipped it into his cup of tea, and looked at it again: but he could think of nothing better to say than his first remark, `It was the best butter, you know.'




Wednesday, November 28, 2007

ACLU threatens suit over creation science course in night school

The ACLU has really gone off the deep end in trying to suppress criticism of Darwinism -- now they are threatening to sue over a creation science course in night school!

A news article in the NY Times said,

Why not teach an evening course on “creation science,” the thinking religious man’s antidote to mass-market Darwinism — Mr. Harrison views the theory of evolution as the backbone of atheism — in the Northport school district’s continuing education program for adults. He’d even buy the books . . .

. . . . The autumn 2006 debut of Mr. Harrison’s creation science class provoked complaints from some Northport residents; his autumn 2007 return just may provoke litigation.

The local antipathy toward his topic — and his right to teach it on school property — has sparked the threat of a legal challenge to the Northport school district from the Suffolk County branch of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Ironic?

Well, Mr. Harrison is less than stunned. “There is a pattern with them of looking to limit free speech of a religious nature,” he says. He has an acronym for the group: the Anti-Christian Lawsuit Union.

“This kind of thing is dangerous,” countered Seth Muraskin, the executive director of the N.Y.C.L.U.’s Suffolk office. This month he notified the Northport school board by letter and in person that he might sue if it continues to offer Mr. Harrison’s course . . .

According to Mr. Muraskin, holding the class at a public school violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment. “If they were teaching it to kids during the day,” he says, “there would be yelling and screaming all over the place.”

The fact that it is being taught to adults at night has not mitigated the yelling and screaming. Mr. Muraskin entered the fray this year after being contacted by a frustrated parent from the district, Stephen Uzzo, who happens to be the director of technology for the New York Hall of Science.

Mr. Harrison, 51, pitched his curriculum for the fall 2006 semester and it was accepted, but after vetting by the district’s law firm, a disclaimer was added to the course brochure to make clear that the district does not select the topics for the program. It emphasizes that “none of the views presented in the classes should be interpreted as endorsed by the district.” . . .

Warren H. Richmond III of Ingerman Smith L.L.P., the law firm representing the district, said it had never rejected any topic for the continuing education program, which also offers a philosophy course called Problem Solving Through Buddhism.

“But is that a religion or a science or a philosophy; who knows?” Mr. Richmond asked. “In our opinion, the free speech aspect of this situation trumps the establishment clause; I sort of think the N.Y.C.L.U. is being anti-free speech. The whole idea of the First Amendment is that even stupid ideas have a right to be heard.”

The district is, he fears, in a “damned if it does, damned if it doesn’t” position, litigation-wise; prohibit Mr. Harrison’s class, and religious right-leaning law firms will leap at the chance to sue. “Either way, we’ll probably end up in litigation,” Mr. Richmond says. Happy thought, if you’re a lawyer. . . .

. . . .Mr. Harrison notified the district that he does not plan to teach the course for the spring semester. Scared off by the N.Y.C.L.U.? No. He cites an overcrowded schedule. He fully intends to returns to the classroom next fall for year No. 3 of “What Is Creation Science?”

Mr. Muraskin, be forewarned: “To not allow the course to be taught would fall under viewpoint discrimination,” Mr. Harrison says. “I’ve done my First Amendment research, too.”

IMO this creation science course is on solid constitutional ground according to the Supreme Court's decision in Lamb's Chapel v. Ctr. Moriches Union Free Sch. Dist. (91-2024), 508 U.S. 384 (1993).

The ACLU tends to not be supportive of civil liberties that are or that the ACLU considers to be of the nature of free exercise of religion.

The threat of lawsuits from both sides here is a good reason for passage of a law capping attorney fee awards in both establishment clause and free exercise clause cases.



Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wikipedia censored on school district's computers

Picture courtesy of Evolution News & Views

I have known for a long time that many teachers and schools have banned student use of Wikipedia as an authoritative reference. I never imagined that a public school district would go so far as to block Wikipedia on all of its computers.

An article in the Seattle Times said,

EASTON, Pa. — Linda O'Connor regards Wikipedia the same way former first lady Nancy Reagan campaigned against drugs.

She urges people to "Just Say No."

The Great Meadows (N.J.) Middle School librarian hasn't been a fan of the online encyclopedia for years. This fall, she decided it was time to make others at her school aware of the Web site's pitfalls.

She put up a sign saying "Just Say 'No' to Wikipedia" over the computers in the school library.

Several other school officials feel similarly about the Web site. Wikipedia is blocked on all computers in the Warren Hills Regional School District.

Some teachers at Easton Area High School discourage its use, as do officials at Centenary College and Lehigh University.

"We don't see it as an authoritative source," said Nancy Madasci, Centenary's library director.

The problem with Wikipedia, the school officials said, is it can be modified by anyone. There have been many cases of incorrect information on the Web site, some of which has been biased.

Though Wikipedia is unreliable on controversial subjects, I still see it as giving good overviews, good references, and being fairly reliable on uncontroversial subjects. So I am especially surprised that a public school district blocked Wikipedia on all its computers.

This news article, like so many other articles, fails to recognize that open-editing is not Wikipedia's only problem or even its biggest problem. IMO the biggest problem is bias by Wikipedia administrators. It is this bias that prevents Wikipedia from being self-correcting and presenting a variety of views.

Here are some of the problems I have had or seen on Wikipedia --

(1) The administrators rewrote the entire Wikipedia article on "banned books" rather than list "Of Pandas and People," the book that Judge Jones ruled could not even be mentioned in Dover classrooms, as a banned book.

(2) Despite a rule that citation of personal blogs is prohibited, particularly in biographies of living persons (except where the subject of the biography is writing about him/herself), the Wickedpedia administrators permitted citations of supposedly "notable" personal blogs attacking Cheri Yecke while blocking rebuttals from this supposedly "crappy" personal blog.

(3) The Wickedpedians falsely claimed that Judge Jones approved Wesley "Ding" Elsberry's text comparison computer program for the purpose of determining the extent to which two different texts contain the same ideas.

I don't waste my time editing Wickedpedia anymore, not even on uncontroversial subjects. There is no way that I want to help Wickedpedia in any way. Wickedpedia is dependent on volunteer editing and the more people that feel the same way that I do about Wickedpedia, the less volunteer editing that Wickedpedia is going to get.



Monday, November 26, 2007

Judge Jones misused expression "separation of church and state"

The book "Monkey Girl" has the following quote of Dover defendant Bill Buckingham (page 336):

If the judge called me a liar, then he's a liar . . . .I'm still waiting for a judge or anyone to show me in the Constitution where there's a separation of church and state. We didn't lose; we were robbed.

When I saw the above quote, I didn't imagine that Judge Jones actually used that expression "separation of church and state," but in fact he did. In the conclusion section of the Dover opinion, Judge "I am not an activist" Jones said,

To preserve the separation of church and state mandated by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Art. I, § 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, we will enter. . .

The Supreme Court said in Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 673,
The Court has sometimes described the Religion Clauses as erecting a "wall" between church and state, see, e.g., Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1, 18 (1947). The concept of a "wall" of separation is a useful figure of speech probably deriving from views of Thomas Jefferson. The metaphor has served as a reminder that the Establishment Clause forbids an established church or anything approaching it. But the metaphor itself is not a wholly accurate description of the practical aspects of the relationship that in fact exists between church and state.

No significant segment of our society, and no institution within it, can exist in a vacuum or in total or absolute isolation from all the other parts, much less from government. "It has never been thought either possible or desirable to enforce a regime of total separation. . . ." Committee for Public Education & Religious Liberty v. Nyquist, 413 U.S. 756, 760 (1973). Nor does the Constitution require complete separation of church and state; it affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any. See, e.g., Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, 314, 315 (1952); Illinois ex rel. McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203, 211 (1948). Anything less would require the "callous indifference" we have said was never intended by the Establishment Clause. Zorach, supra, at 314. Indeed, we have observed, such hostility would bring us into "war with our national tradition as embodied in the First Amendment's guaranty of the free exercise of religion." McCollum, supra, at 211-212.

BTW, Judge Jones above words came almost verbatim out of the Plaintiffs' Findings of Fact and Conclusions of law (page 147 of document, page 151 of pdf file):

351. In order to preserve the separation of church and state mandated by the Establishment Clause, and Art. I, Sec. 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, it is necessary and appropriate to enter . . . .

Judge Jones is what is called an "intentionalist" -- he thinks that he follows intentions that the Founders supposedly had but which were somehow not written into the Constitution. Intentionalist judges don't think of themselves as "activists," but in fact they are.

I myself used to use the term "separation of church and state" as just a catchall term covering the establishment and free exercise clauses of the 1st Amendment, but the term has been so misused that I have stopped using it.

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Judge Jones nickname contest


Seal of Dickinson College

Looking half-asleep, Judge John E. Jones III is shown delivering his infamous "true religion" commencement speech at his alma mater, Dickinson College. In the speech, he said that his decision in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case was based on his notion that the Founders believed that organized religions are not "true" religions. He said,

. . . this much is very clear. The Founders believed that true religion was not something handed down by a church or contained in a Bible, but was to be found through free, rational inquiry.

It is ironic that Judge Jones gave this speech while standing behind the Dickinson College seal, shown above. This seal was designed by USA Founders Benjamin Rush and John Dickinson and has a picture of an open bible and the college motto, "Religion and learning, the bulwark of liberty," in Latin.

His speech showed a strong prejudice against the Dover defendants, regardless of whether or not Intelligent Design is a religious concept. He was lucky that he wasn't impeached. This appearance that Jones was prejudiced against the defendants was reinforced by other actions he took: (1) copying the Dover opinion's ID-as-science section virtually entirely 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 (2) giving a speech at a national executive meeting of the rabidly pro-Darwinist Anti-Defamation League (the ADL said that the Dover decision was a "victory for students" and viciously condemned a TV program that linked Social Darwinism to Hitler).

Here are some suggested nicknames for Judge Jones --
"Jackass" -- what Dover defendant Bill Buckingham called him on PBS NOVA's "Judgment Day"

"Liar" -- what Buckingham called him in "Monkey Girl"

"Neanderthal" -- what Pat Buchanan called him in an Internet article

"Rogue" -- what the Overwhelming Evidence website calls him -- also "wacky zany activist"

"True religion" -- from his Dickinson College commencement speech, described above

"I am not an activist judge" -- from the Dover opinion's statement denying that he is an activist judge. He later said, "People term 'activist judges' judges they don't agree with." Go figure.

"Breathtaking inanity" -- one of his Dover opinion's potshots at the defendants

"Narcissistic putz" -- what Bill Dembski called him after learning that the ID-as-science section of the Dover opinion was virtually entirely copied from the ACLU's opening post-trial brief. The name was a reference to Jones' acceptance of praise for the Dover opinion's ID-as-science section that he did not write.

"Judicial independence" -- from all the lectures he gives around the country complaining that criticism of his Dover decision infringes on his judicial independence

More ideas?

I think that it was the Dover opinion's potshots at the defendants that gave me the idea for a new court rule allowing attachment of litigants' comments to judicial opinions. That would at least level the playing field by giving litigants an equal opportunity to return judges' insults: e.g., judge: "breathtaking inanity"; litigant: "jackass"; etc.. Such a rule would also give litigants the opportunity to rebut judges' arguments (I also propose that judges be allowed to attach short comments rebutting the litigants' comments).



Sunday, November 25, 2007

Blogger software glitch -- slow loading of home page

UPDATE: The problem of slow loading of the home page is gone. The Sitemeter still appears to be giving trouble.

UPDATE #2: The Sitemeter now appears to be back to normal too.

This blog's home (main) page takes about a minute to load on my dial-up connection and I have no idea why loading is so slow. Everything except the articles loads immediately and there is no indication that loading is incomplete. If you have a broadband connection, you probably don't have this problem -- or the problem is not as serious -- because of the faster data transmission. My apologies. I hope that this problem clears itself up.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

The "contrived dualism" fallacy of Darwinism v. intelligent design

Judge Jones' Kitzmiller v. Dover opinion said,

The court in McLean stated that creation science rested on a "contrived dualism" that recognized only two possible explanations for life, the scientific theory of evolution and biblical creationism, treated the two as mutually exclusive such that "one must either accept the literal interpretation of Genesis or else believe in the godless system of evolution," and accordingly viewed any critiques of evolution as evidence that necessarily supported biblical creationism. (page 21-22)

. . .the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980's. (page 64)
ID is at bottom premised upon a false dichotomy, namely, that to the extent evolutionary theory is discredited, ID is confirmed. (5:41(Pennock)). This argument is not brought to this court anew, and in fact, the same argument, termed "contrived dualism" in Mclean, was employed by creationists in the 1980's to support "creation science." (page 71)

Though Judge Jones condemned proponents of intelligent design and creation science for allegedly promoting this "contrived dualism" fallacy, the chief promoters of this fallacy today are the Darwinists. Because intelligent design (including irreducible complexity, which is considered to be part of ID) was the only criticism of evolution that Judge Jones mentioned by name, the Darwinists have been trying to mislead the public into thinking that ID is the only criticism of evolution -- for example, the Ohio evolution lesson plan's non-ID criticisms of evolution were falsely labeled "ID" by the Darwinists. Many non-ID criticisms of Darwinism are not necessarily arguments in favor of ID. I have argued that co-evolution -- which is supposed to be the mutual evolution of co-dependent organisms such as bees and flowering plants -- is a dilemma for evolution theory because in co-evolution there may be nothing to adapt to because the corresponding co-dependent trait in the other organism may be initially absent. That is a non-ID argument. Jonathan Wells' books The Icons of Evolution and Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design contain non-ID criticisms of Darwinism. The Darwinists have tried to reinforce this contrived dualism idea by coining the term "intelligent design creationism," eliminating creationism as a 3rd alternative. Judge Jones himself showed that he really accepts the contrived dualism fallacy because his Dover opinion made a blanket prohibition of criticism of evolution ("we will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants . . . . from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution," page 138), even though ID was the only criticism of evolution that he reviewed (this prohibition was stated in the conclusion section but for some unknown reason was not included in the final order).

IMO many critics of Darwinism have also been promoting this "contrived dualism" fallacy, both deliberately and inadvertently, though to a lesser extent that the Darwinists. I heard of the concepts of ID and irreducible complexity decades ago, though not by those names. In the last few decades, ID got a big boost from the discovery that cells are not just amorphous blobs of protoplasm but contain amazingly complex and sophisticated nanomachines (e.g., the bacterial flagellum), chemical factories (e.g., the blood-clotting cascade), and informational databases (e.g., the DNA code). Even many non-fundies could not help thinking that these things appeared to be designed rather than the result of blind chance. Unfortunately, many people now believe or pretend to believe that there are only two possibilities or considerations, Darwinism and ID.

Judge Jones made another error. As noted above, he said,

The court in McLean stated that creation science rested on a "contrived dualism" that recognized only two possible explanations for life, the scientific theory of evolution and biblical creationism, treated the two as mutually exclusive such that "one must either accept the literal interpretation of Genesis or else believe in the godless system of evolution," and accordingly viewed any critiques of evolution as evidence that necessarily supported biblical creationism.

In making scientific (or pseudoscientific) arguments for biblical creationism, it is necessary to use the "contrived dualism" fallacy because independent scientific arguments cannot be made from the biblical account of creation because that account has no scientific ideas. However, independent scientific (or pseudoscientific) arguments can be made in creation science and intelligent design and hence -- contrary to what Judge Jones assumed -- the "contrived dualism" fallacy is not necessary in those fields.



Friday, November 23, 2007

Fatheaded Ed takes pathetic potshot at me

Chagrined by his inability to match the wit of my post "Drunken reunion of Dover winners", Fatheaded Ed Brayton took the following breathtakingly inane potshot at me on his blog:

This may be a nominee for the idiot of the century, an award I would have to name after Larry Fafarman instead of Robert O'Brien. You have to see Janet Folger's column at the Worldnutdaily, which takes delusion to a whole new level. It's a hypothetical letter she writes to "The Resistance" from a jail cell a year after Hillary Clinton is elected. No, I'm not making that up . . . .

I'm writing this letter from prison, where I've been since the beginning of 2010. Since Hillary was elected in '08, Christian persecution in America has gotten even worse than we predicted.

When the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" was signed into law, my radio program was yanked off the air along with all the others that dared discuss moral issues on Christian radio. The networks just couldn't bring themselves to air a pro-abortion program or one that advocates the homosexual agenda for the government mandated "balance" because broadcasting lies went against their basic beliefs - I don't blame them.

We knew "Thought Crimes" was in danger of becoming law back when it passed Congress in 2007, but thankfully, President Bush kept his promise to veto it. But, tragically, Hillary signed that most dangerous bill in America - ushering in the criminalization of Christianity.

Ed, you stupid fathead, I have several times expressed my opposition to a full "fairness doctrine" for broadcasters. But I do advocate a full fairness doctrine for blogs. And to you, a "thought crime" is anything that you disagree with.

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Discovery Institute falsely charged with inconsistency

An article on Panda's Thumb falsely charges that the Discovery Institute was being inconsistent by filing an amicus brief urging Judge Jones to rule that Intelligent Design is good science and then condemning him as an "activist judge"for ruling on the scientific merits of ID. However, a co-author of the DI amicus brief, DI Center for Science and Culture senior fellow David DeWolf, was also a co-author of an amicus brief from 85 scientists urging Judge Jones to not rule on the scientific merits of ID. So what the DI was essentially telling Jones was, "we urge you not to rule on the scientific merits of ID, but if you do, we urge you to rule that ID is good science or at least not bad science, non-science, or religion." The DI was just trying to cover all of the bases -- there is nothing wrong with that. And it doesn't bar the DI from criticizing Judge Jones for ruling on the scientific merits of ID.

Fatheaded Ed Brayton made the same kind of argument about the Lemon test that is used in deciding establishment clause cases. He made the absurd argument that it is inconsistent to both oppose use of the Lemon test and also argue that the test's second ("effect") prong should not be applied if the first ("purpose") prong is sufficient to decide the case. As the saying goes, if life gives you lemons, make lemonade -- in other words, if you can't stop the courts from using the Lemon test, try to make the best of it.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Ding Elsberry wrong about FTE's attempt to intervene in Kitzmiller

A post on Wesley Ding Elsberry's blog "Austringer" says,

Over on the DIscovery Institute’s weblog, Casey Luskin writes:

In 2005, a federal judge banned Pandas outright from science classrooms in Dover, Pennsylvania — but only after denying FTE [Foundation for Thought and Ethics] the right to appear before the court to defend the book.

Hmmm. Why does that sound odd?

Maybe because the text “Of Pandas and People” (OPaP) is not explicitly mentioned in the order made by Judge John E. Jones III at the end of his decision . . . .so the blunt statement that OPaP is “banned from classrooms” appears to be an unsupported extrapolation.

Judge Jones banned the ID statement that mentioned OPaP, dunghill, so OPaP was banned too.

Can a science teacher or administrator teach credulously from OPaP in a classroom? That would appear to be against the sense of the order.

That is the opposite of what you just said, dunghill.
Maybe Luskin’s statement sounds odd because Jon Buell, President of FTE, did actually appear in the courtroom of Judge John E. Jones III, and there attempted to defend the book.

How dumb can Ding Elsberry get? Buell was not there primarily to make a defense of the book -- Buell was primarily seeking the opportunity to defend the book. Buell was trying to intervene in the case.

Who is to blame for FTE’s inability to take part in the trial portion of KvD? It isn’t Judge Jones.

It was Judge Jones' decision, dummox. And if it was a bad decision -- and I assert that it was -- then Judge Jones gets the "blame" for it.

At the time that FTE finally decided to file its motion to intervene, it was already late in May, 2005. Notably, this only happened about the time that the Thomas More Law Center and the Discovery Institute were apparently having some serious behind-the-scenes disagreements over the conduct of the case.

Dembski's withdrawal as an expert witness was probably a contributing cause of FTE's decision to seek intervention (since Dembski was very familiar with the book "Of Pandas and People"), but IMO the primary cause was the subpoena that FTE received from the plaintiffs. The subpoena was sweeping, demanding all of FTE's material connected to "Of Pandas and People." FTE was prompt in filing a motion to intervene after receiving the subpoena. Prior to receiving the subpoena, FTE had no reason to believe -- and no way of proving -- that the plaintiffs would try to make the FTE's book "Of Pandas and People" a central issue in the case.

FTE seemed to be far more willing to act on DI orders than the TMLC had proved to be, so having FTE obtain a co-defendant role in the case was likely a high priority for the DI.

What's this bullshit -- the Discovery Institute giving "orders" to the FTE and the Thomas More Law Center?

Ding Elsberry cited the following transcript of the court:

THE COURT: I’m not sure that that helps me. What I am interested in is, the suit was filed on December 14th. It’s quite clear now that your client understood that the suit was filed as early as January of ‘05. Discovery is closed in the suit. We’re moving inextricably towards a trial at some point in the late summer/fall — actually the fall as previously set by the Court. I am trying to understand why there was no motion to intervene prior to the filing of this motion to intervene.

MR. BOYLE: I think there was no movement to intervene because the press reports did not give the true nature of the suit or the nature of FTE’s involvement in the suit. And that this was not a matter that affected the FTE at all until they received a subpoena from this court.

THE COURT: But wasn’t Mr. Dembski involved from a point in time, it seems to me — and I don’t know the exact point in time — but at some point after January of ‘05 Mr. Dembski was clearly involved as, at least at that time, the defendant’s expert. Mr. Dembski works hand in glove, obviously, with Mr. Buell and with his not-for-profit.

Are you telling the Court that the only source of information that your client had was through press accounts?

MR. BOYLE: That’s what the testimony I believe indicates, Your Honor, that —

THE COURT: That strains credulity. I can’t believe that. In a matter that is — that is this important to your client, and certainly had some notoriety that transcended simply the community of Dover, and even Pennsylvania, and it was — and Mr. Buell just told me that he understood — if I understood his answer correctly, and I think I did — as early as January he understood that Of Pandas and People was something that was the subject, or a subject of the lawsuit. Now, I am having difficulty understanding what the trigger point was for the motion to intervene. It looks to me like the trigger point came after Mr. Dembski was dropped as an expert. And to me it looks like Mr. Dembski was dropped as an expert because he didn’t want to produce, or because his employer didn’t want to produce the manuscript of The Design of Life. And it was only after that that I saw the motion to intervene.

Elsberry then commented,

Dembski represented FTE, and was so proud of that fact that he crowed about how he was the FTE Academic Editor for “The Design of Life”, a brag that meant that he exposed FTE to production of the then-in-development manuscript of the book. However, Dembski apparently failed to keep Jon Buell abreast of how the case was structured or how it was progressing. Dembski could easily have told Buell that “Of Pandas and People” was of central importance to the case; Dembski himself spent significant effort in his expert report for the case defending it, and certainly Dembski would have had access to at least descriptions of the expert reports of his fellow DI CRSC defense experts, who did the same. But according to sworn testimony from Buell, Dembski stayed mum until the subpoena for TDoL was being drafted. With friends like that…

Contrary to what Judge Jones and Elsberry seem to believe, press reports and tips from employees or subcontractors (Dembski) do not constitute proper service of process. Service of the subpoena was the only proper service of process upon the FTE. When I sued the federal and state governments, I was not even allowed to serve process by certified mail with return receipts. Even the county sheriff refused to serve process on the federal government (I never got an explanation as to why) and I had to hire a private process server at considerable bother and expense. Anyway, as I said, the subpoena from the plaintiffs was FTE's first indication that the plaintiffs would try to make "Of Pandas and People" a central issue in the case, and FTE promptly filed a motion to intervene after receiving the subpoena -- this is evident in the court records concerning FTE's attempt to intervene.

Elsberry said,

FTE’s motion critically depended upon their interests not being adequately represented by the Thomas More Law Center. However, Judge Jones directly questioned Buell late in the day over exactly how he knew that TMLC would not adequately represent FTE’s interests (see pages 108 to 112 in the transcript). Buell had not the foggiest notion of what TMLC would or would not be doing, nor even of how many lawyers TMLC had put on the case. This issue is one prong of a legal test for allowing intervention, and in his decision, Judge Jones lays out clearly how Buell failed to deliver

That is precisely a very good reason for allowing intervention: "Buell had not the foggiest notion of what TMLC would or would not be doing"!

Also, whether a intervention applicant's interests are "adequately represented" by a party already in the case is "one prong of a legal test" only for Rule 24(a) ("Intervention of Right") of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure -- it is not a legal test for FRCP Rule 24 (b) ("Permissive Intervention").

Also, allowing FTE to intervene would not have significantly delayed the trial, because:

(1) The FTE would not have introduced any major new issues -- the plaintiffs already intended to try to make the book a major issue in the case.

(2) Apparently the FTE was not planning to bring in any new expert witnesses but just wanted to bring back expert witnesses who had withdrawn.

(3) The start of the trial was still about 3 months away.

Another reason that Jones gave for denying intervention, that FTE's interests were "purely economic," is obviously ridiculous (page 12 of denial of FTE's motion to intervene).

IMO FTE should have filed an interlocutory appeal of the denial of the motion to intervene.

A modified introduction of the article on Austringer was posted by Elsberry on Panda's Thumb.

Neither I nor anyone else can post the above rebuttals on Austringer or Panda's Thumb because Ding Elsberry does not tolerate criticism. In contrast, anyone can come here and post criticisms. Yet the dunghills on Wickedpedia allowed citation of his blog while censoring citation of my blog because his blog is "notable" while my blog is "crappy."



Turning the tables in the Dover trial

A defense attorney questioning plaintiffs' expert witness Ken Miller:

Q. Professor Miller, you wrote a book titled "Finding Darwin's God -- A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution." Isn't that true?

A. Well, my name is given as the author.

Q. But you did write the book, didn't you?

A. Yes.

Q. And you also wrote the high school biology textbook selected by the Dover school board. Isn't that true?

A. Well, I am a co-author.

Q. Did you write any of the sections about evolution?

A. Well, uh - uh - uh . . . .

The Court: Please just answer yes or no.

A. Yes.

Q. OK, back to "Finding Darwin's God." It is pretty strange that plaintiffs in an establishment clause lawsuit chose an expert witness who wrote a book with such a title, isn't it?

Attorney Rothschild: Objection! The question is leading the witness.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sleazy PZ Myers misrepresented the Minnesota State Science Standards

PZ Myers has misrepresented the Minnesota State Science Standards. His quote of the standards includes the following statement:

"The student will be able to explain how scientific and technological innovations as well as new evidence can challenge portions of or entire accepted theories and models including but not limited to cell theory, atomic theory, theory of evolution, plate tectonic theory, germ theory of disease and big bang theory." (PZ's emphasis)

PZ then commented, "This does not support the teaching of Intelligent Design creationism in the classroom." It doesn't support teaching "Intelligent Design creationism" specifically, but it does support teaching the "controversy."

Also, the National Center for Science Education said,

In contrast with some other states, the place of evolution in the science curriculum attracted only a moderate amount of public attention during the writing and approval process in Minnesota.

"Moderate amount of public attention"? Well, there was a fairly big stink back then in 2003-2004 over then Minnesota Commissioner of Education Cheri Yecke's evolution-education policies at that time (1, 2). Even the NCSE acknowledged the controversy (1, 2, 3). And the Darwinists are still making a stink about it.

Also, a reminder regarding the claim that the Santorum Amendment's "teach the controversy" language in the conference committee report of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act carries no weight: the Supreme Court's decision in Blum v. Stenson was not based on explicit statements in a Senate report accompanying a bill but was based on court opinions cited by that report!


Monday, November 19, 2007

Dover defense attorney objected to questioning

In the comment thread of my post titled "Did Dover Defendants Lie?", I asserted that the questions about the sources of the books or the money for the books should have been ruled out of order. A commenter responded, "Good point about how Harvey's question should have been ruled out of order, Larry . . . .but the defense would have had to OBJECT!" Well, I investigated further and discovered that the defense did object! Here is the relevant portion of the testimony (William Buckingham is being questioned):
Q. You didn't raise money for Pandas and People anyplace other than your church, did you?

MR. GILLEN: Your Honor, objection. To the extent that Mr. Harvey is trying to create an inference that by asking at church, there's some sort of religious plot, I believe the question begins to burden Mr. Buckingham's ability to associate for the purpose of his free exercise. I mean, where he asked -- you know, if he asked the church, if that's where his friends and community is, that's his business. It's improper to try and draw some inference to that.

THE COURT: Well, that's argument. That's not an evidentiary objection, is it?

MR. GILLEN: Well, I think it's an evidentiary objection to the extent that he's seeking to elicit this information to support the inference proposed by his question.

THE COURT: I'm still hearing argument. I'm not hearing an objection --

MR. GILLEN: Well, and I don't wish to argue.

THE COURT: -- based on the rules of evidence. I understand your point, and it might be argument, it might be valid argument. Under the circumstances, I think the question is fair. He asked him did he raise money at any other place than his church.

MR. GILLEN: Yes. And my purpose is in suggesting that the thrust of the question to create that inference is improper because he's trying to make it look as if there was some sort of religious mission when he asked his friends.

THE COURT: Well, that goes to the weight that I'll give it. It's a bench trial. I mean, I still don't hear something that's grounded in the rules of evidence.

MR. GILLEN: Well, I guess I'm saying he does have a First Amendment privilege to free exercise, and I think that Mr. Harvey is -- the thrust of his question right now is to burden his ability to associate and ask his co-religionists to support something he thinks is worthwhile.

THE COURT: Unless I missed something, though, the First Amendment privilege that he has that you're citing to doesn't act as a bar to answering that question. Do you think it does?

MR. GILLEN: Well, I think it does border right on the limit because it is creating this inference that would be a burden on his free exercise right. If people weren't free to do what he's done, to ask, or if it could be used against them later, it would be a burden on their ability to go in front of any congregation and ask support for any number of things.

THE COURT: I don't see it, but let's hear from Mr. Harvey.

MR. HARVEY: Your Honor, I don't in any way mean to infringe upon this man's religious freedom in any way, but if he's going to take the stand and claim that he had no religious purpose in the actions of the school board and then they took up a donation at a church, I'm entitled to explore that to show that he, indeed, had religious purposes.

THE COURT: I think it's a fair question in the context of this case and in the line of questions that Mr. Harvey has already asked, so I overrule the objection. Do you remember the question, sir?


THE COURT: All right. You can answer the question.

I certainly disagree with Harvey's statement, "if he's going to take the stand and claim that he had no religious purpose in the actions of the school board and then they took up a donation at a church, I'm entitled to explore that to show that he, indeed, had religious purposes." Taking up a donation at a church is not evidence that Buckingham lied when he claimed that he had no religious purpose in the actions of the school board -- money is raised at churches for all sorts of things, both religious and non-religious. Judge Jones said, "I still don't hear something that's grounded in the rules of evidence," but the Federal Rules of Evidence gives judges broad discretion in excluding evidence:

Rule 403. Exclusion of Relevant Evidence on Grounds of Prejudice, Confusion, or Waste of Time

Although relevant, evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Rule 611. Mode and Order of Interrogation and Presentation

(a) Control by court.

The court shall exercise reasonable control over the mode and order of interrogating witnesses and presenting evidence so as to (1) make the interrogation and presentation effective for the ascertainment of the truth, (2) avoid needless consumption of time, and (3) protect witnesses from harassment or undue embarrassment.

Anyway, Buckingham's evasiveness in answering questions at his deposition was in response to questions of doubtful propriety. IMO, accusations that Buckingham lied during his depositions have made a mountain out of a molehill. I was surprised and dismayed when the PBS NOVA program "Judgment Day" reported that "Jones recommended to the US Attorney that he investigate bringing perjury charges against Buckingham and Bonsell for lying under oath." Judge Jones lied when he claimed through a spokesperson that he has a policy of not commenting publicly about the Dover trial, and he falsely pretended to be impartial and then said in a commencement speech that his Dover decision was based on his notion that the Founders believed that organized religions are not "true" religions. Physician, heal thyself.

Anyway, I really liked the way Buckingham made a monkey out of that lousy shyster Harvey. Their courtroom exchange in my article "Did Dover Defendants Lie?" reminds me of Bud Abbott's and Lou Costello's comedy routine "Who's on first?".



Sunday, November 18, 2007

The cult of Darwinism

Dover expert witness Kevin Padian hands out "Friend of Darwin" awards to Dover plaintiffs at reunion. From blog of Wesley "Ding" Elsberry


"Friend of Darwin" award? Good grief. Is there a "Friend of Newton" award? "Friend of Einstein" award? "Friend of Maxwell" award? Etc.

There are other signs that Darwinism is a cult: Darwin Day celebrations, Darwin Sunday sermons, "I love Darwin" knick-knacks, Darwin v. Lincoln essay contests, Darwinian birthday cakes (for Darwin's birthday), etc..



Saturday, November 17, 2007

Did Dover defendants lie?

Electric stun belt for "hostile witnesses"?


The "Judgment Day" TV program prompted me to revisit some of the issues in the Dover case. I decided to look more closely at the charge that defendants William Buckingham and Alan Bonsell lied about where they got the money to buy the copies of "Of Pandas and People" for the school library. Here is some of the court testimony (plaintiffs' attorney Steven Harvey questioning William Buckingham):

Q. Well, as a matter of fact, Mr. Buckingham, I asked you specifically who donated the money, and you didn't tell me at your deposition on January the 3rd, 2005. Isn't that true?

A. The cash are you talking about?

Q. I asked -- let's review your testimony. Please go to Page 57, Line 9.

A. Of the March or --

Q. This is January 3rd.

A. 57, Line 9?

Q. Yes, sir.

A. I'm there.

Q. I asked you the following questions, and you gave the following answers:

Question: The school district received a number of copies of the book Of Pandas and People. Correct? Answer: Yes. Question: Do you know how many copies? Answer: I've been told there were 60. I haven't seen them. Question: Do you know where that came from, who donated the money? Answer: No, I don't. Question: You have no idea? Answer: I have thoughts, but I don't know. Question: What are your thoughts? Answer: I think it could have a tie to Alan Bonsell, who was board president at the time. Question: Why do you think -- I know you're not saying it was, but why do you think it might have ties to Mr. Bonsell? Answer: Because he was the president of the board at the time, and I just deduced from that that.

That was the testimony that you gave on January the 3rd of 2005. Isn't that true?

A. Doesn't that reference the books, not the money?

Q. Isn't that the testimony that you gave on January the 3rd, 2005?

A. Yes.

Q. And then if you'll turn, Mr. Buckingham, to -- or, actually, go down the page to Line 24 on Page 58. Didn't I ask you the following questions and you give the following answers:

Question: Were you ever at a board meeting where someone asked who donated the book to the school, in fact, Larry Snoke, a former board member asking who donated it? Answer: I think he expressed a wonder-type thing over where they came from. I don't think -- I don't remember anybody asking directly where they came from. Question: Were you curious to know where it came from? Answer: I know they came from someone in the public sector. I know we didn't use taxpayer funds to pay for them.

Question: Did you ask where it came from? Answer: No. Question: Why didn't you ask? Answer: Didn't want to know. Question: Why didn't you want to know? Answer: Well, what purpose would it serve? Question: Well, because you're a board member and the school district is part of your responsibility as a board member and maybe where these books came from would be something that you should know. Answer: No, I think it was a wonderful gesture, and I didn't concern myself with where they came from.

That was your testimony, wasn't it, Mr. Buckingham?

A. I believe Larry Snoke was asking where the money came from, not where the books came from, and that was why I answered that that way. And the rest of it is my testimony, yes.

Q. Well, when I asked you, why didn't you ask where it came from, and you said, didn't want to know, what you really meant to say was that you knew where it came from. That was the right answer there, wasn't it? That was the correct answer?

A. I didn't know who donated the cash. I knew they were in a certain building when they put it in the box, but I don't know who put the cash in the box.

Q. You knew that I was seeking that --

A. In the mailbox.

Q. You knew that I was seeking that information when I asked you those questions on January 3rd, and you didn't give me the -- you didn't tell me anything about donations being taken -- a collection being taken at your church. Isn't that correct?

A. I didn't consider it a collection. I didn't ask for it. They just did it because there was a need there. I didn't ask them for it.

Q. Mr. Buckingham, you lied to me at your deposition on January 3rd, 2005. Isn't that true?

A. How so?

Q. By not telling me, when I asked you those questions, that you knew that a collection had been taken at your church for the book Of Pandas and People.

A. I did not take a collection.

Q. Well, you wrote the check to Donald Bonsell, didn't you?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. And you didn't tell me that you knew that -- anything about Mr. Bonsell, did you?

A. I don't recall if I did or not.

Q. Well, we just read your testimony. You didn't say anything about Donald Bonsell in that testimony, did you? Do you want to go back and look at it?

A. Well, there's more testimony than that. I don't know if I referenced him anyplace else in it or not.

Q. Well, when I was asking you about where the donation of Of Pandas and People came from, you didn't mention anything about Donald Bonsell, did you? Do we need to relook at your testimony again?

A. I'd like to, yes.

Q. Okay. Let's do that. January 3, Page 57, Line 9. Let me read it to you again, Mr. Buckingham, and you tell me if I've got it right.

Question: The school district received a number of copies of the book Pandas and People. Correct? Answer: Yes. Question: Do you know how many copies? Answer: I've been told there were 60. I haven't seen them. Question: Do you know where that came from, who donated them? Answer: No, I don't. Question: You have no idea? Answer: I have thoughts, but I don't know. Question: What are your thoughts? Answer: I think it could have a tie to Alan Bonsell who was board president at the time. Question: Why do you think -- I know you're not saying it was, but why do you think it might have ties to Mr. Bonsell? Answer: Because he was the president of the board at that time, and I just deduced from that that. Did I read that correctly?

A. Yes, you did.

Q. No reference to Donald Bonsell in there. Right?

A. No, there wasn't.

Q. You should have told me about that at the time, shouldn't you, to be truthful?

A. I thought I answered the question the way you asked it. Money was given to Alan Bonsell to forward to someone, turning out to be his father, that it was going to go someplace else. I don't --

Q. Well, you knew that it was being given to Donald Bonsell because you wrote his name on the check?

A. That's true.

THE COURT: Mr. Harvey, why don't you move to the next area. I get the point, and you've made the point very effectively, and I don't think you need to stay in this area. I'll give you some more latitude if you want, a little bit, but --

MR. HARVEY: Your honor, I'm done.

It looks to me like a lot of Buckingham's alleged "lies" were really just minimal answers -- volunteering as little information as possible -- in answering witch-hunting, fishing-expedition type questions. For example, in answering the question of who donated the money, Buckingham told the truth when he said that he did not know -- most of the money came from anonymous cash donations at a church. The question of "where" donations came from could be interpreted as meaning who donations came from rather than the physical places where the donations were made. Some of the questions about Alan Bonsell and his father could be interpreted as questions about whether they donated the books or the money, not whether they purchased the books. And in some of the questions, there was the ambiguity of whether Harvey was talking about the books or the money. IMO Buckingham did lie when he claimed not to know how the Bonsells were involved, but when you are trying to give minimal answers, it is easy to slip up and tell some lies. Anyway, Harvey seemed to take Buckingham's "lies" personally -- he didn't just say "you lied" but said "you lied to me."

A lot of people have said that Buckingham and Bonsell should have been prosecuted for perjury or that they were lucky to escape perjury charges. However, to me, the reasons why they were not prosecuted for perjury are clear:

(1) Their alleged lies could not have affected the outcome in the case.

(2) Some of the alleged "lies" were not lies but were just minimal answers.

(3) Some of the questions were ambiguous.

(4) Immunity to a charge of perjury is usually granted when the whole true story is told.

(5) The question of where the money for the books came from was irrelevant because there was no tax money involved.

(6) Perjury charges would have made martyrs of them in the minds of a lot of people.

Anyway, Buckingham and Bonsell were not the only people here who were not completely honest. The Dover High School science teachers, by refusing to read the ID statement, reneged on their agreement to accept "Of Pandas and People" as a reference text in exchange for the school board's acceptance of a heavily pro-Darwinist main biology text. The newly elected school board members reneged on their campaign promises by not repealing the ID policy immediately. Judge Jones was dishonest when he pretended to be impartial and then said in a commencement speech that his decision was based on his notion that the Founders believed that organized religions are not "true" religions. Judge Jones lied when he said through a spokesperson that he does not publicly comment on the specifics of the case. "Judge not, lest ye be judged."

Also, IMO calling Buckingham a "hostile witness" sounds disparaging, like he testified while wearing an electric stun belt or a straitjacket. All the term really means here is that the opposing side got to question him first. The term sounds derogatory and its use ought to be discontinued.

Anyway, I think that Buckingham and Bonsell came across pretty well in PBS NOVA's "Judgment Day."



Friday, November 16, 2007

PBS NOVA omitted teachers' agreement to ID book

The Kitzmiller v. Dover opinion says,

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

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

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

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

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

Pandas was shelved.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(1) Only Darwinism was actually taught.

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



PBS NOVA "Judgment Day" Websites







The Truth About the Dover Intelligent Design Trial

PBS Airs False Facts in its "Inherit the Wind" Version of the Kitzmiller Trial (Updated)


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Drunken reunion of Dover winners

Fatheaded Ed Brayton wrote,

I have not had a chance to watch the PBS show on the Dover trial. I DVR'd it last night, but for some reason it was all distorted so I deleted it and set it to record it again when it re-airs. I've heard nothing but good things about it. Jim Babka was just telling me how great it was. I did get a phone call soon after it was over from a sadly sober Burt Humburg, who was at Lauri Lebo's house for a reunion of the whole Dover gang -- the plaintiffs, the lawyers, the expert witnesses, Genie Scott and the NCSE gang. Everyone but me, sadly, who was stuck here at home listening to their merriment over the telephone.

I can assure you that you were not missed, Ed.

If you have heard nothing but good things about the PBS show, then you have not been looking in all the right places.

Considering all the errors and shenanigans concerning the Dover case that have been exposed, I hardly see any cause for "merriment." And some people must have traveled a great distance to attend this little orgy -- for example, the NCSE headquarters are at the other end of the country.

The "whole Dover gang" is right -- like in "gangster."

And exactly who is Lauri Lebo, at whose house the reunion was held? She is a York Daily Record reporter who covered the Dover case! She is also the author of a book titled, "The Devil in Dover." The book's webpage says,
In The Devil in Dover, Lebo traces the compelling backstory of this pivotal case described by some as a perfect storm of religious intolerance, First Amendment violations, and an assault on American science education. In a community divided across unexpected lines, the so-called activist judge, a George Bush–appointed Republican, eventually condemned the school board’s decision as one of “breathtaking inanity.”

"Described by some as a perfect storm of religious intolerance, First Amendment violations, and an assault on American science education"? That was the description from Kevin Padian.

Lauri Lebo was obviously so biased that she should have disqualified herself from reporting the case.



Wednesday, November 14, 2007

PBS NOVA's TV show "Judgment Day"

I have posted literally dozens of articles about the Kitzmiller case and Judge Jones (see the sidebar) and of course space does not permit me to review them all here. Nothing in the TV program affects any of my previous comments about Jones and the decision. However, I will make a few comments here about the program.

It was obvious that Darwinism was not going to be proven in a two-hour TV program. IMO the program should have concentrated on the legal issues rather than the scientific issues.

In some ways, the show was better balanced than I had hoped. I didn't see any quote mining and the program was candid in presenting the opposing views. The show of course did not go into a lot of criticisms of Judge Jones and the decision.

Actually, I think that the fundies came across quite well in the program. Here is this theory that is riddled with flaws and gaps and the judge said that the Dover teachers could not be required to criticize it at all for any reason, not even in a one-minute statement. The Kitzmiller opinion said,
To preserve the separation of church and state mandated by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Art. I, § 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, we will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants from maintaining the ID Policy in any school within the Dover Area School District, from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID. (emphasis added)

However, the prohibition of "requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution" was not, for some unknown reason, included in the final order.

So here Judge Jones was also passing judgment on non-ID criticisms of evolution that he had not even reviewed.

Here are some specific comments about the program:

(1) My favorite part was where defendant Bill Buckingham called Judge Jones a "jackass."

(2) Of course, there was the "contrived dualism" where there is assumed to be only two possibilities, Darwinism and ID.

(3) Judge Jones broke his pledge to not publicly comment specifically about the case. I thought that his role in the program would be just to read excerpts from his written opinion.

(4) The TV show -- to its credit -- noted that the school board election was close, but did not note that the voter concern about the cost of the trial was considered to be a significant factor.

(5) It was not noted that the ruling on the scientific merits of ID was not necessary. Indeed, several articles in scholarly law journals criticized Jones for ruling on the scientific merits of ID.

(6) The show should not have criticized Michael Behe and others for declining to be interviewed. I would also criticize the movie "Expelled" for criticizing complaints from interviewees about not being informed about the purpose of the movie.

(7) The movie gave the Discovery Institute some free publicity, including publicity for the DI's book about the case, "Traipsing into Evolution"

(8) In the TV program, Judge Jones conceded that his Kitzmiller decision is not going to end the controversy. In his Kitzmiller opinion, he wrote, "Finally, we will offer our conclusion on whether ID is science not just because it is essential to our holding that an Establishment Clause violation has occurred in this case, but also in the hope that it may prevent the obvious waste of judicial and other resources which would be occasioned by a subsequent trial involving the precise question which is before us."

I originally thought that Judge Jones had no choice but to rule against the defendants but I now feel that a ruling in favor of the defendants could have been justified under the "endorsement test." Details are in this long comment on the Reasonable Kansans blog.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

"I'm from Missouri": the movie

Here is the plot summary:

Sweeney Bliss (Bob Burns), champion mule raiser in Missouri, takes his prize mule Samson to London, where the British government is trying to decide whether to buy mules or tractors for its colonial troops. He is accompanied by his ritzy wife Julie (Gladys George) who has high society aspirations and hopes to have her younger sister Lola Pike (Judith Barrett) marry a British diplomat. Complicating matters is a business rival, Porgie Rowe (Gene Lockhart), who is trying to sell tractors to the government and keeps knocking Sweeney's prize Missouri mules.

Many, many years ago, I saw a barbecue sauce with the brand name, "I'm from Missouri." At the time, I wasn't aware of the slogan and I thought that the only reason for the name was that Missouri was famous for barbecue (both Kansas City and St. Louis, at opposite ends of the state, are famous for barbecue). The second part of the slogan, "you'll have to show me," became the official Missouri state nickname, "Show Me State."


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bias of PBS NOVA TV program "Judgment Day"

I can see the heavy pro-Darwinist bias of the PBS NOVA TV program "Judgment Day" even before watching the program. A section titled "Resources" (pages 19-20) in a "Briefing Packet for Educators" that was prepared to accompany the TV show lists 14 pro-Darwinist books but only one anti-Darwinist book (listed under "Intelligent Design," ignoring non-ID criticisms of Darwinism): Michael Behe's old 1996 Darwin's Black Box. Some other anti-Darwinist books that could have been listed are Icons of Evolution, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, No Free Lunch, Traipsing into Evolution, and Behe's recent The Edge of Evolution. The list of websites is also unbalanced -- there are 13 pro-Darwinist websites but only two anti-Darwinist websites. Also, it appears that none of the websites listed are blogs that accept comments from visitors -- e.g., Panda's Thumb, Uncommon Descent, and Pharyngula, which are all popular blogs. These three blogs all practice arbitrary censorship, but I would not mind seeing them listed in the briefing packet if that fact were noted (for one thing, noting that fact would put pressure on them to clean up their acts).

There are many other signs of bias in the briefing packet, but one of the most glaring signs is the one-sidedness of the list of resources.

Also, the title of the TV program and the briefing packet, "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial," reflects the "contrived dualism" notion that there are only two possibilities: Darwinism and Intelligent Design. As I have pointed out many times, there are also significant non-ID criticisms of Darwinism.

Reminder: "Judgment Day" airs on Nov. 13, only two days away. Check local listings for times.


New website counters Darwinist propaganda

The new website is www.intelligentdesign.org, which was set up by the Discovery Institute.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Demagogic Kansas governor associated state school board with hate group

A news article last year said,

Topeka — Calling her an “elitist” and a “big-government liberal,” the state school board’s chairman on Friday criticized Gov. Kathleen Sebelius over her proposal to strip the board of its power to set education policy.

Steve Abrams, an Arkansas City Republican who is part of the Kansas State Board of Education’s conservative majority, took the Democratic governor to task for suggesting that its adoption last year of science standards seen as anti-evolution had damaged Kansas’ economic development efforts.

Abrams also attacked Sebelius for saying that the state has to deal with negative publicity created by the board, just as it does with the anti-gay picketing of the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. and his followers.

“The governor owes the Kansas State Board of Education as well as the citizens of the state of Kansas an apology,” Abrams said in a statement sent by e-mail to news organizations across the state. “Personal insults from this liberal governor are the only arguments she can make due to the lack of her own accomplishments.”

“I expect a big-government liberal like our governor to oppose conservative politics. But to infer that the State Board of Education is responsible for the lack of economic development in Kansas is laughable,” he added.

At the time I read the article, I was not aware how nasty Phelps's anti-gay group is -- now I know. Darwinist Gov. Sebelius's demagoguery is despicable.



Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Judgment Day is coming on Nov. 13

The Darwinist websites have a lot of ballyhoo about the upcoming PBS NOVA TV special about the Kitmiller v. Dover trial, Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial. For the following and other reasons, I can't understand why the Darwinists don't want to just forget about the Dover trial:
(1) Judge Jones copied the opinion's ID-as-science section virtually entirely from the plaintiffs' opening post-trial brief while ignoring the defendants' opening post-trial brief and the plaintiffs' and defendants' answering post-trial briefs.

(2) Regardless of whether or not intelligent design is religion, Judge Jones showed extreme prejudice against the defendants by saying in a Dickinson College commencement speech that his decision was based on his notion that the Founders believed that organized religions are not "true" religions.

(3) Jones denied the intervention motion of the Foundation for Thought and Ethics, the publisher of the book "Of Pandas and People," then thoroughly trashed the book in his written opinion. FTE was prompt in moving to intervene as soon as subpoenas that it received made it clear that the plaintiffs would seek to make the book a major issue in the case.

(4) Several articles in scholarly law journals are critical of the Dover opinion, particularly Judge Jones' decision to rule on the scientific merits of intelligent design and irreducible complexity.

(5) The opinion has little or no precedential value because it is just the unreviewed opinion of a single federal district court judge.

These and other criticisms of Judge Jones and the Dover decision are discussed in posts here under post labels titled Judge Jones, Kitzmiller v. Dover, Expert opinions about Kitzmiller, and Monkey Girl. My very first post on this blog consists of criticisms of the Dover decision.

The case has gotten far more attention than it deserves.

The show's website also has the Dover science teachers' formal statement of refusal to read the board's ID statement to their classes. By so refusing, these teachers reneged on their prior agreement to use "Of Pandas and People" as a "reference text" (not a "companion text") in exchange for the board's acceptance of a heavily pro-Darwinist biology textbook. The website fails to mention that the teachers had made such an agreement.

I previously reported that the Discovery Institute's staff "stonewalled" requests to be interviewed for the program. The program's producer Paula Apsell said in answer to a question,

Q: Of the three expert witnesses who testified on behalf of Dover—Michael Behe, Scott Minich, and Steve Fuller—only Steve Fuller appears in the program. Why did you not interview the other two, who are among the country's leading proponents of ID?

Apsell: Michael Behe and Scott Minich, as well as other proponents of ID, were invited to participate in the program. . . . However, Michael Behe, Scott Minich, and other ID proponents affiliated with the Discovery Institute declined to be interviewed under the normal journalistic conditions that NOVA uses for all programs.

However, Phillip Johnson, co-founder and program advisor of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, was interviewed for the program, and a transcript of the interview is here. The interview was fairly long, but Johnson's only statement that specifically criticized the Dover opinion is the following:

As for the judge and the opinion, the problem is that the judge didn't just decide the local case in front of him. He decided that he wanted to become a national figure by deciding the whole question of evolution and creation for the country in one opinion. So he wrote an opinion as big and broad as a starry sky, saying that the notion of intelligence, that one of these two hypotheses, was not eligible for consideration because it was religion and hence by definition not science. So any attempt in that direction was unconstitutional. He is being rewarded for that opinion with all the accolades that the mandarins of science have at their disposal.

The interview was fairly long, and so I have no idea whether the above statement is going to included in the show. The show is, after all, about the Dover trial and hence should include a lot of discussion about the legal issues in the case, but it is now evident that the show will not.

Go here to request email reminders of show times.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

John E. "true religion" Jones III the activist judge

I posted the following comment on the Volokh Conspiracy blog:

Stewart said,

Perhaps we're conflating two different activities with the term Judicial Activism -- going beyond and opposing the text of the law. Intentionalists may not feel the former is in fact Activism. Is this where the uncertainty over the meaning of the term comes in?

Exactly. Judge John E. Jones III asserted in his written opinion in the Kitzmiller v. Dover intelligent design case that he was not an activist judge, but he said in a Dickinson College commencement speech that his Kitzmiller decision was based on his notion that the Founders believed that organized religions are not "true" religions. He said,

. . . this much is very clear. The Founders believed that "true religion was not something handed down by a church or contained in a Bible, but was to be found through free, rational inquiry." At bottom then, this core set of beliefs led the Founders, who constantly engaged and questioned things," to secure their idea of religious freedom by barring any alliance between church and state."

So the Kitzmiller decision was obviously an "activist" decision because Jones crossed the line from neutrality towards religion -- the establishment clause's position -- into hostility towards religion. Regardless of whether or not intelligent design is religion, this hostility towards organized religions meant that he was prejudiced against the defendants. But because he thought that he was following the intentions of the Founders, he did not see himself as an activist judge.

The above comment has been posted for a day under a recent article on Volokh Conspiracy, a very popular blog averaging about 20,000 visits per day, yet so far no one has attempted to rebut it. No one has spoken up in defense of Judge Jones.

This post will now generate a torrent of abuse from the trolls on this blog.



Saturday, November 03, 2007

Wickedpedia's hypocrisy

Wickedpedia says,

Wikipedia tries to address the problem of systemic bias, and to deal with zealous editors who seek to influence the presentation of an article in a biased way, by insisting on a neutral point of view.

The only points of view that Wickedpedia insists on presenting are the views of the Wickedpedia administrators.

Wickedpedia also has the nerve to proclaim in a headline that "Wikipedia is not censored".

The corruption at Wickedpedia has reached the point of no return, because anyone with any decency would have left the organization by now. Wickedpedia is tyrannized by arrogant administrators who think that there is one set of Wickedpedia rules for them and another for everyone else. For example, the official Wickedpedia rules say that citation of personal blogs is prohibited (except where a blogger wrote about himself), but in Cheri Yecke's biography the administrators allowed some personal blogs because they were "notable" while censoring my personal blog because it was "crappy." That reminds me of the "best butter" that the March Hare put in the Mad Hatter's watch in Alice in Wonderland:

The Hatter was the first to break the silence. `What day of the month is it?' he said, turning to Alice: he had taken his watch out of his pocket, and was looking at it uneasily, shaking it every now and then, and holding it to his ear.

Alice considered a little, and then said `The fourth.'

`Two days wrong!' sighed the Hatter. `I told you butter wouldn't suit the works!' he added looking angrily at the March Hare.

`It was the best butter,' the March Hare meekly replied.

`Yes, but some crumbs must have got in as well,' the Hatter grumbled: `you shouldn't have put it in with the bread-knife.'

The March Hare took the watch and looked at it gloomily: then he dipped it into his cup of tea, and looked at it again: but he could think of nothing better to say than his first remark, `It was the best butter, you know.'

Personally, I don't think that citations of personal blogs should be prohibited, but if there is a rule, that rule should either be followed or, if exceptions to the rule are allowed, those exceptions should apply to everyone.

Also, Wickedpedia allows just a single administrator to ban a contributor permanently and Wickedpedia uses the disreputable practice of IP address blocking, which usually indiscriminately blocks a large number of users and is often ineffective anyway.

I suggested that editing disputes be resolved by just posting the disputed item along with a note that the item is disputed and links to external websites where the item is discussed or debated. That would (1) avoid any suggestion that the item is endorsed by Wikipedia and (2) avoid cluttering up Wikipedia with long debates over disputed items. An online encyclopedia does not have to look like a printed encyclopedia, which cannot instantly link to external references where disputed items are discussed or debated. My suggestion was ignored.

Wikipedia is well summed up by Wikitruth:

Wikitruth is a website dedicated to the subject of flaws and issues with the Wikipedia, another website run by Jimbo Wales and a massive, insane army of Wikipedians that he controls with his mind rays. It's very hard to really explain Wikipedia, but if you visit it, it says it wants to be "the free encylopedia that anyone can edit". Instead, however, it is often filled with crazy people, experiences some issues with manipulative personalities, and falls prey to abuse and censorship. And that's a real shame.

To say that Wickedpedia sucks would be a gross understatement.