I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

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

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Great Satan in Dover



I previously wrote about the new book The Devil in Dover: An Insider's Story of Dogma v. Darwin in Small-town America. Now a review of the book, written by Wesley "Ding" Elsberry, has appeared on Panda's Thumb. Ding says of the book's author Lauri Lebo, a former newspaper reporter,

. . .there is the personal struggle with those in her profession who misconstrue journalistic “objectivity” perversely as a charge not to speak the truth when a situation indicates that a “side” is plainly in the wrong.

It's part of something called journalistic ethics, Ding -- something that an unscrupulous BVD-clad blogger like yourself can't understand (I prefer "BVD-clad" to "pajama-clad" because Hugh Hefner considers pajamas to be formal wear). When reporting the news, journalists are supposed to present only facts and are not supposed to analyze or interpret the facts. Imagine how stupid a news report about a lawsuit would look if that report labeled one side as wrong. The Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists says that journalists should,

— Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.

Ding Elsberry wrote,
.
Lauri’s descriptions of Buckingham’s frailties and foibles don’t gloss over or diminish his truly monstrous behavior, but they do lend a humanizing touch to someone otherwise known primarily or only for his unswerving intolerance of the religious views of others.

"Truly monstrous behavior"? The only truly monstrous behavior was by his persecutors. Buckingham and other members of the school board agreed to adopt a heavily pro-Darwinist main biology text on condition that the ID book "Of Pandas and People" be adopted as a supplemental text. The Dover science teachers agreed to the compromise. Copies of "Of Pandas and People" were placed in the school library and the teachers were required to read to the science classes a one-minute evolution-disclaimer statement that announced the books. The Pandas book was not required reading. Only Darwinism was actually taught. The science teachers then reneged on the compromise by refusing to read the one-minute statement (the statement was read by administrators instead) and some parents of students sued the school board over the one-minute statement.

Ding Elsberry wrote,

The courtroom provided the denouement for the tragi-comic story of the principal “intelligent design” advocates on the school board who chose to lie rather than expose their policy to a possible temporary restraining order. The depositions of those people taken in early January, 2005 provided clear evidence that Bill Buckingham and Alan Bonsell purposely concealed information pertaining to the purchase of 60 copies of the “intelligent design” textbook, “Of Pandas and People”.

The money to purchase the books was collected at a church. In a comment thread under a previous post on this blog, I said,

The donors' identities and motives should not have been a factor in the case and in fact the questioning about them should have been ruled out of order. In describing her new endorsement test, Justice O'Connor said, "The Establishment Clause prohibits government from making adherence to a religion relevant in any way to a person's standing in the political community." Fundies had the same standing as anyone else to anonymously donate money for the books.

Ding Elsberry is so badly deluded that he still thinks that perjury charges against Buckingham and Bonsell are a possibility -- Ding wrote in the comment thread under his article,

About the perjury issue… AFAIK, that’s still “under investigation”. It will be news, briefly, if it is announced that they have dropped it or will prosecute.

The list of the book's endorsers on the book's official website looks like a who's who of Darwinist bigots. There's Judge John E. "Jackass" Jones III himself -- his endorsement of this biased book speaks volumes about his own bias (he said in a commencement speech that his decision was based on his notion that the Founders based the establishment clause upon a belief that organized religions are not "true" religions). There are endorsements from arbitrarily-censoring fact-fabricating BVD-clad bloggers Fatheaded Ed Brayton and Wesley "Ding" Elsberry. Edward Humes, author of another pro-Darwinist (though less biased) book about the trial, "Monkey Girl," is also there (there is a post label "Monkey Girl" in the sidebar of this blog).

Amazon.com customer reviews of the book are off to a very slow start, even slower than "Monkey Girl"s -- only four reviews have been posted in the first month or so. One of those reviews is the review that Elsberry posted on Panda's Thumb. There have also been relatively few responses to the question "Was this review helpful to you?" and only one outside comment in response to the customer reviews, my response to John Kwok's review (Kwok's response to my comment of course does not count as an outside comment). It looks like the "The Devil in Dover" is going to turn out to be an even bigger flop than "Monkey Girl," which was once touted as the definitive book about the "trial of the century." "Monkey Girl" has had comparatively little customer-review activity on Amazon.com. I don't think that customer-review activity on Amazon.com is in general the sole indicator of a book's popularity, but I think it is a pretty good indicator for non-fiction books on controversial subjects. I think that most people don't care about the Dover case anymore -- to most people, it's yesterday's news, even in the Dover area. Lauri Lebo said in a recent interview,

Q. Where do things stand in Dover now? Has the issue died down?

A. People don’t talk about it much. Folks there have to get along with each other. But one thing is pretty clear. I doubt that anybody’s mind was changed by the trial. Bill Buckingham still calls Judge Jones’ decision “a case of unjustifiable homicide.” And he still forwards me chain e-mails urging me to accept Jesus Christ as my savior.

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23 Comments:

Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

Does Buckingham have "unswerving intolerance of the religious views of others," as Elsberry claims? And how does he manifest that? The Christian fundamentalists that I'm familiar with don't seem to me to be intolerant of the religious views of others.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008 5:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>>>>>>The Christian fundamentalists that I'm familiar with don't seem to me to be intolerant of the religious views of others.

Yeah, Christian fundamentalists just love their Muslim and Jewish neighbors (/sarcasm off). In the South, the Baptists don't seem to like Catholics very much (if you're Catholic you're not a Christian) and they tolerate other protestant sects (but not sure they like all of them); they also don't seem to like non-denominationals. Not sure though.

Referring to Buckingham, was Buckingham one of the apparently many who turned on the Sunday-school teaching science teachers (who were against anything supporting ID in any way)? That might be the best example of it, if he was. Maybe he expressed some opinion that stated that you couldn't believe in God and support evolution at the same time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008 8:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The author spends a lot of time ranting about her father, rather than the Dover trial.

She definitly has issues and is in need of counseling.

Thursday, June 12, 2008 4:56:00 AM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

"Maybe he expressed some opinion?" Well, maybe he did: I don't know. But I don't think that expessing an opinion, religious or otherwise, is religious intolerance.

If it is, then I guess that Dawkins and PZ are full of religious intolerance, for they constantly expess the opinion that
religions (except for their own religion, materialism) are all bunk.

Thursday, June 12, 2008 1:15:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

Religious intolerance does not, I think, consist of expessing the opinion that some religion is right or wrong.

It consists of intefering with the religous activities of people whose religion one doesn't agree with, or of persecuting them, or of subjecting them to public ridicule or mockery.

Thus the "flying sphagetti monster" buffoons are indulging in religious intolerance, I think: their whole aim is simply to mock and ridicule theists, publicly.

Forcing a captive audience to listen to the preachings of a particular faith, is also religious intolerance, I think. Thus when the materialists preach their religion, materialism, to school children in science classes, by preaching Darwinism: that may be an example of religious intolerance.

Thursday, June 12, 2008 3:44:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

I meant "expressing," not "expessing," an opinion: of course. The angry ghost of Old Chuck Darwin is obviously messing with my computer.

Go away, Chuck. Or I'll get an exorcist to kick your ass.

Thursday, June 12, 2008 4:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Non-Superstitious said...

< ghost of Old Chuck Darwin is obviously messing with my computer >

Way to go, Jim! Blame a ghost for your typo, and, while you're at it, blame the computer too. Why not?

And why am I not surprised?

Thursday, June 12, 2008 5:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Jim Sherwood" "wrote": "Thus when the materialists preach their religion, materialism, to school children in science classes, by preaching Darwinism: that may be an example of religious intolerance."

Except neither "Darwinism" nor "materialis[m" are religions.

Or, by your view, even studying the Bible from a literary (ie, a secular) perspective is religious intolerance.

Friday, June 13, 2008 9:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Jim Sherwood" also "wrote": "Thus the "flying sphagetti monster" buffoons are indulging in religious intolerance, I think: their whole aim is simply to mock and ridicule theists, publicly"

So, it's okay for Baptists to think that Catholics aren't even Christians or, as is the case for far too many within each Christian denomination, that members of rival denominations (not to mention the Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc., etc., etc.) are going to hell is okay because they aren't making fun of other religions like the FSMists?

As you can guess, I am the same anonymous as the previous post and of the first anonymous post on this thread, but not the other.

Friday, June 13, 2008 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

Of course materialism is a religion: since it's a notion about the nature of ultimate reality, which cannot be scientifically demonstrated. And atheism is recognized as a religion by the US courts. Atheism, in its common meaning in this country, is the same thing as materialism.

Darwinism, i.e., evolution of all life by purely mechanistic causes, and especially by random mutations and natural selection, cannot be scientifically demonstrated. So it's properly a religion, in which some people arbitrarily believe: unless one wants to admit that it's simply an unproven scientific hypothesis: and the Darwin-fans refuse to admit that, although it's clearly true.

Friday, June 13, 2008 1:59:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

Studying the Bible from a purely skeptical or secular perspective isn't religious intolerance. I said that publicly ridiculing a religion, is religious intolerance.

I've pointed out that I've never found anything in the Bible, and that I'm neither a Christian, nor a theist. Is that religious intolerance? No. It's my non-theistic opinion. But I can imagine that some people do find something in the Bible; and that it may be something valid, for all I know. I respect Christians: I don't ridicule them, as do the FSM buffoons.

Friday, June 13, 2008 2:17:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

There may well be some or many Christian fundamentalists who are religiously intolerant, although I don't recall an example. I asked about Buckingham, not about all fundamentalists.

"Ftk" at Reasonable Kansans is a Christian fundamentalist, as far as I know.And she's so tolerant and accepting that I admire her, greatly.

And when I "accused" Chuck's ghost of causing my typo, that was a JOKE, Darwin-apostles.

Friday, June 13, 2008 2:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Jim Sherwood" wrote: "Of course materialism is a religion: since it's a notion about the nature of ultimate reality"

But this is only one component (at best) of a religion. You need at least four others according to Ninian Smart. Trust me, "materialism" doesn't have them.

He also wrote: "And atheism is recognized as a religion by the US courts"

But it's recognized as such only in the purpose of the First Amendment. Otherwise it is not a religion (and isn't). Some atheists may go to church, maybe even a Christian one, others may be Unitarians, others probably don't go anywhere, then there are those like Kurt Vonnegut who found himself in churches a lot despite being an atheist or "at best an agnostic who winds up in church a lot", but I digress...

Jim also wrote: "There may well be some or many Christian fundamentalists who are religiously intolerant, although I don't recall an example. I asked about Buckingham, not about all fundamentalists"

But you did move away from talking specifically about Buckingham when you wrote, "It consists of intefering with the religous activities of people whose religion one doesn't agree with, or of persecuting them, or of subjecting them to public ridicule or mockery."

This doesn't refer to Buckingham at all (as far as I know). You direct it to the Pastafarians, though I made the point that numerous religious folks are equally intolerant and discriminate against those of other religions (see Northern Ireland, Israel (too obvious, perhaps), countries like Nigeria, or even different regions of the US (the South, hating the Catholics; New England, hating the Catholics too, at least in the past -- churches allowed only in bad parts of town, etc.).

Pastafarians, or at least the founder (or, as he would say, the one who revealed an already existing religion to the world through his open letter to the school board of Kansas (or whatever it was called), make fun of all religions, not just Christians.

If I'm an atheist (as I am) and I think that all religion is rubbish (which I basically do, though I may concede that there are some positive experiences to be had within them), then how is my view not automatically making fun of every religious tradition in the world? Would that not be intolerance in and of itself?

Saturday, June 14, 2008 10:45:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said,

>>>>>>"Jim Sherwood" wrote: "Of course materialism is a religion: since it's a notion about the nature of ultimate reality"

But this is only one component (at best) of a religion. You need at least four others according to Ninian Smart. <<<<<<

I'm with Jim. Ninian Smart is not smart so far as the courts are concerned. The federal court of appeals for the 7th circuit said in Kaufman v. McCaughtry ( 2005),

"we have suggested in the past that when a person sincerely holds beliefs dealing with issues of ultimate concern that for her occupy a place parallel to that filled by God in traditionally religious persons, these beliefs represent her religion."

>>>>>> He also wrote: "And atheism is recognized as a religion by the US courts"

But it's recognized as such only in the purpose of the First Amendment. <<<<<<

Well, that's pretty darn important! Also, atheism is presumably recognized as a religion for purposes of the constitutional provision that there shall be no religious test for holding office. LOL

Sunday, June 15, 2008 2:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So the courts are correct in defining religion but not in recognizing ID as creationism? A logical fallacy -- appeal to authority.

Sunday, June 15, 2008 9:16:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said...
>>>>>> So the courts are correct in defining religion but not in recognizing ID as creationism? <<<<<<

The definition of "religion" for purposes of the constitution is an easily decided question. All that it takes to define atheism and materialism as religions is just the following sentence quoted above (from Kaufman v. McCaughtry) --

". . . we have suggested in the past that when a person sincerely holds beliefs dealing with issues of ultimate concern that for her occupy a place parallel to that filled by God in traditionally religious persons, these beliefs represent her religion."

In contrast, the question of whether ID is creationism was not easily decided in the Dover trial -- it took Judge Jones a trial of several weeks to decide that question. Also, many of the issues involved in deciding that question in the Dover trial are nonjusticiable, e.g., they are unprovable, unfalsifiable, a matter of opinion, subject to change, etc.. In contrast, whether or not atheism and materialism are religions under the Constitution can be decided on the basis of the single sentence above -- you either agree with the sentence or you don't. So, can a test for whether ID is creationism -- or can be creationism -- be as simple as the above sentence defining religion? I propose the following simple test for deciding whether ID can be the same as creationism --

Science uses only scientific observations and reasoning, religion uses religious references.

By that definition, ID is science and creationism is religion, so ID and creationism cannot be the same.

Monday, June 16, 2008 3:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>>the question of whether ID is creationism was not easily decided in the Dover trial -- it took Judge Jones a trial of several weeks to decide that question

It took most scientists about 30 seconds. Judge Jones was merely following procedure.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008 2:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Larry barfed: "So, can a test for whether ID is creationism -- or can be creationism -- be as simple as the above sentence defining religion? I propose the following simple test for deciding whether ID can be the same as creationism --

"Science uses only scientific observations and reasoning, religion uses religious references.

"By that definition, ID is science and creationism is religion, so ID and creationism cannot be the same."

This is about the stupidest thing I've heard from you -- and I've heard a lot.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008 2:55:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said...

>>>>the question of whether ID is creationism was not easily decided in the Dover trial -- it took Judge Jones a trial of several weeks to decide that question

It took most scientists about 30 seconds. <<<<<<

And the only way that scientists could decide that question in about 30 seconds or less would be by applying a very brief test such as the one that I proposed: "Science uses only scientific observations and reasoning, religion uses religious references." And under this test, scientists or anyone would of course conclude that ID is science. If you don't like this test, then what test do you propose for answering the question -- in 30 seconds or less -- of whether ID is science? I mean a test that does not beg the question.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008 3:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Misusing, abusing, or just ignoring the rules of science don't count as science, even when "scientific observations" are otherwise discussed. Creation science isn't science either, despite trying to present its arguments in scientific terms.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008 8:07:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said...

>>>>>> Misusing, abusing, or just ignoring the rules of science don't count as science, even when "scientific observations" are otherwise discussed. Creation science isn't science either, despite trying to present its arguments in scientific terms. <<<<<<<

Well, I don't agree. But even if what you say is true, that doesn't make ID and creation science religions. By that standard, the wild, unsubstantiated claims of Darwinism would make Darwinism a religion, too (some claim that it is). So maybe ID, creation science, and Darwinism are just bad science or pseudoscience. But that wouldn't make it unconstitutional to teach them in public schools, because there is no constitutional separation of bad science (or pseudoscience) and state.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008 8:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>But even if what you say is true, that doesn't make ID and creation science religions.

I didn't say that they would be religions. It's one thing to be a religiously-inspired view (Gospel of John and Genesis, respectively) and another to be a religion itself.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 7:55:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>> I didn't say that they would be religions. It's one thing to be a religiously-inspired view (Gospel of John and Genesis, respectively) and another to be a religion itself. <<<<<

By "religion," I meant religiously-inspired, too. Please stop beating around the bush.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 9:16:00 PM  

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