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, February 28, 2008

Judge Jones' "true religion" missing from Supreme Court precedents

Judge Jones said in a commencement speech at Dickinson College that his Dover decision was based on his notion that the Founders based the establishment clause upon a belief 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. (emphasis added)

However, in establishment clause histories given in two Supreme Court decisions, Everson v. Board of Education (1947) and Engel v. Vitale (1962), Jones' above "true religion" is not mentioned at all, not even as a contributing factor. Everson does mention "true religion," but it is not the kind of "true religion" that Judge Jones described above -- Everson says (page 12) that Madison "eloquently argued that a true religion did not need the support of law."

The hypocritical Judge Jones ignored Supreme Court precedent himself while falsely accusing his critics of ignoring Supreme Court precedent. In a speech at Bennington College, Jones said about media criticisms of his decision,
What all of them had in common -- all of these criticisms -- was that they omitted to note the role of precedent, how judges work, the Rule of Law. Trial judges carefully find the facts in a case and apply existing precedent as handed down by higher courts -- most notably, in this case, the Supreme Court of the United States. There was simply no attempt [in these media criticisms] to illuminate those issues or educate the public . . . .

To hear these critics tell it, we live in a world where judges make essentially ad hoc determinations. This is really a false world that they tend to propagate, where judges rule according to personal bias, particular whims or political philosophies, or in order to please political benefactors -- or, worse perhaps, respond to the perceived public will at any given time. . . . And that gets into a still larger issue that I think is of somewhat crisis proportions, which I call a crisis in judicial independence. Many judges across the country feel exceedingly threatened by a public, a punditry, and a political establishment that tends to launch ad hominem attacks against individual judges when they disagree with them.


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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Originalism under attack

A post on the Balkinization blog has links to abstracts of three scholarly papers attacking the doctrine of originalist interpretation of the Constitution. I am glad to see that originalism is finally under major attack -- I wonder what took so long. Originalism needs to be recognized for what it is, a very pernicious form of judicial activism. Originalists have gone so far as to put words in the mouths of the Founders.

One of the papers has the blunt title, "Originalism is Bunk". Another paper, titled "Originalism's Living Constitutionalism", says,
Originalists' claims about the unique and exclusive legitimacy of their theory -- that originalism self-evidently represents the correct method of constitutional interpretation founder when one considers that originalists themselves cannot even begin to agree on what their correct approach actually entails. And their claims that originalism has a unique ability to produce determinate and fixed constitutional meaning, and that only originalism properly treats the Constitution as law and properly constrains judges from reading their own values into the Constitution, stumble when one considers the rapid evolution and dizzying array of versions of originalism . . . .A judge committed to the originalist enterprise in fact has significant discretion to choose (consciously or unconsciously) the version of originalism that is most likely to produce results consistent with her own preferences. Originalists might despise the notion of a living constitution, but they have gone a long way towards creating a living constitutionalism of their own, the very existence of which undermines their own rhetorical and normative claims to superiority.

The third paper is titled "Rebooting Originalism".

IMO the poster child of the evils of originalism is Judge Jones' infamous commencement speech at Dickinson College, in which he showed extreme prejudice against the Dover defendants -- regardless of whether or not Intelligent Design is a religious concept -- by saying that his Dover decision was based on his notion that the Founders based the establishment clause upon a belief 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.

Ironically, Judge Jones gave the speech while standing behind the Dickinson College seal, which was designed by USA Founders Benjamin Rush and John Dickinson and which contains a picture of an open bible and the college motto "religion and learning, the bulwark of liberty" in Latin.

Judge Jones was supposed to be neutral towards organized religions and he was not. By no stretch of the imagination are his above statements neutral towards organized religions.

In interpreting the establishment clause, originalists have portrayed the Founders as being everything from a bunch of blasphemous bible-burning satan worshippers to a bunch of bible-pounding holy-rolling fundies. Also, originalists have been conveniently ignoring the religious views of a very important Founder, George Washington -- see this and this.

The Federalist Society does not officially say that it is originalist but I strongly suspect that it is. It is named for the USA's first political party and the society's logo is a silhouette of James Madison. The question of Chief Justice John Roberts' membership in the society was an issue in his confirmation hearings.

Sometimes a broad non-originalist interpretation of the Constitution is necessary. For example, the Constitution does not generally prohibit states from interfering with interstate commerce, so the courts invented what is called the "dormant" commerce clause. Also, many big issues today were not even on the radar screens of the Founders -- e.g., environmental protection and freedom of speech on the Internet.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Not all "creationist" arguments are "old"

A lot of people express shock that evolution is still being debated "in this day and age." And a lot of people claim that current critics of evolution are just recycling "creationist" arguments that were "refuted a long time ago." But a lot of the information in the debate over the alleged irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum is of recent origin. An article in New Scientist magazine said,
“If you go back just six or seven years, the function of many of the components of the bacterial flagellum were unknown,” says Kenneth Miller, a biochemist at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. “It’s very difficult to work out the evolution of a complex system when you don’t understand how the system works.” In the absence of this knowledge, biologists all too often fell back on the assertion that “bacterial flagella evolved and that is that”, according to Mark Pallen, a microbiologist at the University of Birmingham in the UK.

The real "science-stoppers" are the anti-intellectuals who think that old ideas that have supposedly been "refuted" should not be reconsidered in the light of new information and/or new arguments.

Also, as I have pointed out before, a lot of people have the mistaken idea that intelligent design is the only scientific (or pseudoscientific, to some) criticism of evolution theory. The problem of co-evolution of total co-dependence of two different kinds of organisms -- e.g., bees and flowering plants -- is an example of a non-ID weakness of evolution theory. In such co-evolution, unlike in evolutionary adaptation to widespread fixed physical features of the environment, e.g., water, land, and air, there may be nothing to adapt to because the corresponding co-dependent trait in the other organism is likely to be locally absent.



Friday, February 22, 2008

George Washington the forgotten Founder

The Prayer at Valley Forge by Arnold Friberg

* Sung to the tune of Old-Time Religion


I am generally opposed to the doctrines of "originalism," "original meaning," "original intent," etc., the ideas that the courts' interpretations of the Constitution should be solely based on the thoughts of the Founders (or Framers). However, IMO those who do support these doctrines should at least be whole-hog about it but most -- e.g., Fatheaded Ed Brayton -- are just half-assed about it, conveniently ignoring the views of the "father of his country," George Washington. An article titled "Equal Billing: On Religion, Washington's Views Should be Considered, Too," a book review of a book titled "Under God: George Washington and the Question of Church and State," in the Texas Review of Law & Politics, said,
"Washington's opinions deserve at least as much attention as those of Jefferson." That is the final sentence, and raison d'etre, of Under God: George Washington and the Question of Church and State, by Tara Ross and Joseph Smith. Ostensibly a compendium of Washington's views on the proper relationship between church and state, Under God aims to correct a perceived historical wrong in the relative weight given by the modern Supreme Court to the views of Washington and Thomas Jefferson in interpreting the Religion Clauses of the United States Constitution.. .. . . .(page 2 of pdf file, page 208 of original document)

Jefferson, of course, coined the phrase "separation of church and state" in his oft-quoted 1802 Letter to the Danbury Baptists. This phrase has seared itself into the public consciousness as the dominant metaphor for the meaning of the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment, in no small part because the Supreme Court has so frequently employed it in rendering Religion Clause decisions. In the body of their book, Mrs. Ross and Mr. Smith show that Washington would have rejected this metaphor. To the contrary, he believed it important "for government to accommodate and even to encourage the practice of religion, albeit in ways that were typically non-denominational and tolerant of religious minorities." The authors further suggest that Washington's views were closer to the American mainstream than were Jefferson's -- before, during, and after the framing of the Constitution and the enactment of the Bill of Rights -- and thus are a better guide to ascertaining the original meaning of the First Amendment . . . . (pages 2-3 of pdf file, pages 208-209 of the original document)

. . . After reading Under God, one cannot dispute that the views of Washington deserve greater consideration than they have heretofore received as Religion Clause litigation and legal scholarship. Do the views of Washington deserve greater consideration than the views of Jefferson, as Mrs. Ross and Mr. Smith suggest, or of Madison, who at times appeared to be as ardent a separationist as Jefferson? That, of course, depends: first, on the extent to which one embraces originalism as an interpretive philosophy(emphasis added); second, on the extent to [which] Washington was representative of the views of the framers, or of the common understanding of what the Religion Clauses meant in 1789. On the latter question, Mrs. Ross and Mr. Smith offer reasons to believe that Washington was closer to the American center than was Jefferson, but the former question is beyond the scope of their project and a matter of sharp disagreement among current members of the Supreme Court. Suffice it to say, the life of Washington presents an alternative vision to that of a "high and impregnable" wall of separation between church and state. (page 15 of pdf file, page 221 of original document)

This book Under God: George Washington and the Question of Church and State illustrates the folly of the "original intent" doctrine. That stupid judge John E. Jones III showed extreme prejudice against the defendants in Kitzmiller v. Dover -- regardless of whether or not Intelligent Design is a religious concept -- by saying in a Dickinson College 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. 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.

Ironically, he gave the speech while standing behind the Dickinson College seal, which was designed by USA Founders Benjamin Rush and John Dickinson and which contains a picture of an open bible and the college motto "religion and learning, the bulwark of liberty" in Latin.

What if some judge(s) came along with the arguable notion that the USA was founded as a Christian nation and that the only purpose of the establishment clause was to prevent individual Christian sects from being established as official state religions? We could then end up with a ruling that, say, non-sectarian school prayer is constitutional.

IMO the best interpretation of the establishment clause is Justice O'Connor's "endorsement test" and she didn't need to use the "original intent" doctrine to attempt to support the test. Here is her statement of the endorsement test, from her concurring opinion in Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 687-688:

The Establishment Clause prohibits government from making adherence to a religion relevant in any way to a person's standing in the political community. Government can run afoul of that prohibition in two principal ways. One is excessive entanglement with religious institutions, which may interfere with the independence of the institutions, give the institutions access to government or governmental powers not fully shared by nonadherents of the religion, and foster the creation of political constituencies defined along religious lines. E.g., Larkin v. Grendel's Den, Inc., 459 U.S. 116 (1982). The second and more direct infringement is government endorsement or disapproval of religion. Endorsement sends a message to nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community. Disapproval sends the opposite message. See generally Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963).


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JAIL4Judges sues Florida Bar in US Supreme Court

A broadcast email from JAIL4Judges said,

On January 7, 2008, a petition for writ of certiorari was docketed in the United States Supreme Court titled Florida JAIL4Judges, Petitioner v. The Florida Bar, Respondent, prepared and filed by Montgomery Blair Sibley, Attorney for Petitioner, on behalf of Florida JAIL4Judges and Florida JAILer-in-Chief (JIC), Nancy Grant, ngrant@strato.net.

The background of this lawsuit is quite interesting and goes back to the South Dakota 2006 ballot. For a history see www.sd-jail4judges.org. Therein we explain the shenanigans that went on in South Dakota to misrepresent the J.A.I.L. Amendment before the electorate. As a result, J.A.I.L. went down allegedly 89% against to 11% in favor. Thereafter Attorney Tom Barnett, the Director of the South Dakota Bar Association and leading the opposition campaign rushed down to Florida to address the Florida Bar, bragging on how they "defeated" JAIL4Judges in South Dakota.

A news article on the website of the Florida Bar described advice that Barnett gave at a meeting of the Florida Bar's board of governors:
If backers of an amendment known as J.A.I.L.4Judges succeed in getting their constitutional amendment on the Florida ballot, the state’s lawyers should be ready to lead a campaign to defeat it.

The public face of that campaign should not be judges and lawyers, but rather regular citizens who would be adversely affected by the amendment that nominally seeks to strip civil and criminal immunity from the judiciary in cases where a special grand jury decides they have acted improperly.

Tom Barnett, executive director of the State Bar of South Dakota, gave that advice to the Bar Board of Governors at its December meeting.

A state bar 's board of governors has no business even hearing advice on getting involved in a political issue, let alone acting upon such advice.

JAIL4Judge's broadcast email said,

This rhetoric spewed out by Barnett so enraged Florida Bar member Montgomery Sibley that he brought suit against the Florida Bar for illegal and unlawful use of Bar membership dues. The nature of the lawsuit filed in the Florida Supreme Court, which was three-pronged, alleges that any entity that advocates for or against a State Constitutional Amendment must be registered as a Political Action Committee (PAC). Florida JAIL4Judges, pursuant to this law, is an officially-recognized PAC with a State-assigned number. However, its opposition (The Florida Bar) is not. The lawsuit seeks to compel the Florida Bar to comply with Florida law and register as a PAC, albeit pointing out that the Florida Bar is a duly-recognized official arm of the Florida Supreme Court and the second prong is that the Florida Bar is precluded by Florida law from involving itself in State initiatives.

The third prong asks that the seven justices of the State Supreme Court recuse themselves because their own official arm is the defendant. This of course placed the Florida Supreme Court in a real catch-22 situation which they stalled upon ad infinitum, refusing to make a decision on their own conflict. Finally by compulsion the Florida Supreme Court determined that they were not the proper court to decide the question before them. Another motion followed by Attorney Sibley calling on them to decide the question before them or state why they did not have jurisdiction to make a ruling. The motion was denied and the instant matter is now brought before the United States Supreme Court.

The current petition, assigned Case No. 07-885, may be read at http://www.jail4judges.org/state_chapters/fl/Petition.pdf. What we now know is that the entire State of Florida, including its Supreme Court, is incapable of deciding a matter in which it has a conflict of interest. Left to be decided by the United States Supreme Court is whether Florida JAIL4Judges has a forum available to it for redress of grievance (First Amendment, U.S. Constitution). Maybe even more basic is, do we have a U.S. Constitution? We shall soon find out. If in the negative, J.A.I.L. has made a prima facie case to all Americans as to the universal need for the passage of J.A.I.L. in this country. We ask, without J.A.I.L. does America even have a future?

The national media, to which this is being sent, should be very interested in following this case.

-Ron Branson-

Incidentally, I met Ron Branson in person many years ago when I was fighting the flagrantly unconstitutional $300 California "smog impact fee" imposed on federally-certified vehicles brought into the state. I am grateful to Ron for his continued dedication to fighting judges' shenanigans.



Thursday, February 21, 2008

New Florida Science Standards and Selman v. Cobb County

The Florida Board of Education narrowly decided by a 4-3 vote to make just one change in the proposed science standards: calling evolution a "scientific theory" and adding "scientific theory" or "law" to other theories or laws in the standards in order to avoid giving the appearance of "singling out" evolution. A proposal for other changes was rejected. According to one report, board members Roberto Martinez and Akshay Desai voted no because they did not want any changes at all, and another board member, Donna Callaway, voted no because she wanted more changes. I don't know the exact views of the four board members who voted yes -- maybe they really wanted only the change that they were voting on or maybe they just wanted the board to make a decision. Anyway, this was a modest victory for those opposed to the dogmatic teaching of evolution, and just getting this small concession was like trying to pull teeth.

Unfortunately, that annoying statement about evolution being the "fundamental concept underlying all of biology" remains in the standards. I am an engineer. Most of the different engineering, science, and math subjects that I studied each had their own fundamental underlying principle(s), and most of these subjects did not have a single underlying principle. But biology is supposed to have this one fundamental underlying principle, evolution, yet I don't even remember studying this principle at all in high school biology. How can that be? Regardless of whether or not evolution is wholly or partly true, telling students that it is the fundamental unifying principle of all of biology is brainwashing them with a big lie.

Biologists have an inferiority complex because of the kind of attitude expressed by Lord Rutherford: "All science is either physics or stamp collecting." Because of this inferiority complex, biologists are waging a prestige war against other branches of science by boasting that biology has something that the other branches don't have, a single grand central fundamental underlying principle, evolution.

The constitutionality of calling evolution a "theory" was a big issue in the Selman v. Cobb County evolution disclaimer textbook sticker case. The sticker said,

“Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.”

A district court judge ruled that the sticker was unconstitutional. In an oral hearing on the appeal, appeals court judge Edward Carnes told an attorney representing the plaintiffs/appellees,

"I don't think y'all can contest any of the sentences. It is a theory, not a fact; the book supports that."

-- and --

"Your difficulty is that you've got to take something that actually is reflective of the content of this textbook you like so much, and say it violates the First Amendment."

Another judge on the panel, Frank Hull, questioned how the federal district court could have found the sticker's language misleading to biology students when there was no evidence to support that view.

The appeals court vacated and remanded the lower court's decision because of missing evidence. A new trial was granted. The Cobb County school board finally took a dive, settling out of court.



Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ich bin ein Darwinist (apologies to JFK)


LOL. I know that the ADL will just LOVE this one.



Quote mines in Judge Jones' Dickinson College commencement speech?

The copy of Judge Jones' commencement speech on the Dickinson College website has the following quote marks and footnote:
. . . 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." *

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

* Quotations from The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America by Frank Lambert (Princeton University Press, 2003).

Note that the speech contains two disconnected quotations from the book. Are these two disconnected quotations actually quote mines? I know for a fact that those quote marks and the book-reference footnote were not added to the online copy of Judge Jones' Dickinson College commencement speech until some time after the speech was posted online. Were these quote marks and footnote added for the purpose of giving an appearance of legitimacy to Jones' remarks connecting "true religion" and the establishment clause (i.e., "barring any alliance between church and state"), even though the book itself might not have made such a connection? If the book itself made no such connection, then quote-mining can be added to Judge Jones' numerous other offenses.



Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Old True Religion


Old True Religion (sung to the tune of Old-Time Religion)


Give me that old true religion,
Give me that old true religion,
Give me that old true religion,
And it's good enough for me.


It was good for the Founding Fathers,
It was good for the Founding Fathers,
It was good for the Founding Fathers,
And it's good enough for me.


It is good for the Constitution,
It is good for the Constitution,
It is good for the Constitution,
And it's good enough for me.


It is good for the 1st Amendment,
It is good for the 1st Amendment,
It is good for the 1st Amendment,
And it's good enough for me.


It is good for the Supreme Court,
It is good for the Supreme Court,
It is good for the Supreme Court,
And it's good enough for me.


It is good for the public schools,
It is good for the public schools,
It is good for the public schools,
And it's good enough for me.




Monday, February 18, 2008

Fatheaded Ed is up to no good again

Fatheaded Ed Brayton says,

I'm hearing from sources in Florida that there is a movement going on behind the scenes to "compromise" on the new science standards by adding the phrase "theory of" anywhere the word "evolution" is mentioned. Apparently there is support among those with a vote for doing so. Since evolution is, of course, a theory, this seems perfectly reasonable, but we all know why this is going on: because to the average person 'theory' means "wild guess" and thus it will quell some of the controversy.

If this is done, however, we should insist that the same thing be added to the science standards in reference to every other scientific theory and that all of them begin with an accurate scientific definition of theory. This is just another dishonest game being played by the anti-evolution crowd and it needs to be stopped.

Ed, the proposed "compromise" already includes adding "scientific theory" to every other scientific theory in the proposed science standards. Of course, this needs to be done in only a few key places, not everywhere the theories are mentioned.

As for giving the scientific definition of the term "theory" everywhere that the term is used, do legal documents give the legal definitions of terms everywhere that the legal usage differs from the common usage? For example, what about the term "process serving"? No, Ed, in a legal document, it does not mean a serving of process cheese. In legal documents, sometimes the meaning of a word must be determined from the context, e.g., here are legal definitions given for "demise": 1) v. an old-fashioned expression meaning to lease or transfer (convey) real property for years or life, but not beyond that. 2) n. the deed that conveys real property only for years or life. 3) n. death. 4) n. failure. Should a definition of "niggardly" be given every time the word is used? Remember that one? And what about defining usage of the word "chink" when saying that other pro golfers need to find the chink in Tiger Woods' armor? You should remember that one -- it was on your own blog. And you didn't remove that stupid comment even though you kicked me off your blog permanently because your preconceived notion disagreed with my literal interpretation of a federal court rule.



Best place for up-to-the-minute info about Florida

Things are happening so fast in Florida that I have a hard time keeping up. The best place to get up-to-the-minute info is the blog of the Florida Citizens for Science. However, keep in mind that what you read on the FCS blog is likely to be very biased.



Saturday, February 16, 2008

Still more Florida news

(1) Orangeman video

Short enough for my dial-up connection but took a few minutes to load.

(2) The proposed science standards may be viewed here.

(3)Volusia County school board members were interviewed about the proposed standards. Their statements have been interpreted as supporting the proposed state standards but they mostly did not expressly state support for the wording of the proposed state standards -- the board members mostly just said things like, "religion should be taught at home," "evolution should be taught in school," and "I'll support whatever decision the state board of education makes." The Florida Citizens for Science knows of only one Florida County school board, Monroe County's, that has actually passed a resolution supporting the proposed standards as written; about a dozen county school boards have passed resolutions opposing the proposed standards as written. Another county school board, Bay County's, passed a resolution opposing the proposed standards as written. The Bay County resolution was different from many or all of the others -- it recommends that the state science standards be reworded to “allow for balanced, objective and intellectually open instruction in regard to evolution, teaching the scientific strengths and weaknesses of the theory, rather than teaching evolution as dogmatic fact.” Many or all of the other county school board resolutions said something like "evolution should not be presented in a manner that excludes other theories of the origin of life." I prefer Bay County's resolution. The Putnam County school board is scheduled to discuss on Feb. 19 -- the day of the state board's decision -- a resolution regarding the state science standards; the school board's agenda does not say whether the resolution supports or opposes the proposed standards and does not say whether any action will be taken on the resolution, and any action will almost certainly be too late to affect the state board's decision.

(4) Feb. 11 was supposed to be the date of the last public oral hearing, but the state board of education decided to hear one more hour of public testimony at the meeting on Feb. 19, when the decision on the proposed state science standards is scheduled to be made. Info is here.

Hearing public testimony on Feb. 19 is unfair to those who have already testified at previous oral hearings. Many of those who have already testified at oral hearings went to a lot of time and trouble to testify. Some traveled hundreds of miles and some took time off from work. Their testimony is now going to be drowned out by new public testimony at the Feb. 19 meeting of the state board of education. Of course, these people who have already testified can go to the time and trouble of appearing at the Feb. 19 meeting but they might not get a chance to testify — the maximum number of public speakers is 20. Maybe what the board of education should do instead is just make a tentative decision on the proposed state standards and then have a public comment period for that decision. I think that in general, administrative agencies and the courts -- especially the Supreme Court -- should initially issue tentative decisions and then have public comment periods for them.

(5) The state board of education is considering adding the term "theory" or "scientific theory" to the evolution education standards. This Darwinist article moans that this might be too big a concession to the fundies. The state legislature is breathing down the neck of the state board of education, threatening to add "theory" if the board does not.

(6) A Florida newspaper took a poll of public opinion about evolution and evolution education. I don't understand why the circle graph for the question "which of these do you think should be taught in public schools?" shows results only for respondents with school-age children. Also, the margin of error for this circle graph is likely to be large because of a small sample size. Anyway, it looks like the Darwinist tail is trying to wag the dog.

(7) A graph on this webpage grossly exaggerates the differences by using 270 as the base of the graph. Also, the number of green counties -- only two (should be only one because only Monroe County actually passed a resolution supporting the proposed state science standards as written) -- is much too small to yield a statistically significant result.



Friday, February 15, 2008

Recommended changes for Florida evolution education standards

The Florida Board of Education is scheduled to make a decision on the proposed state science standards on Feb. 19. Here are my minimal recommendations for changes to the evolution education standards:

(1) Insert the word "theory."

(2) Delete or modify the following introduction:

Evolution and Diversity: A. Evolution is the fundamental concept underlying all of biology and is supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence. B. Organisms are classified based on their evolutionary history. C. Natural selection is the primary mechanism leading to evolutionary change.

Statement "A" is a matter of opinion and arguably a worldview and students should not be tested on this statement. Statement "B" applies only to cladistic taxonomy -- the statement is not true about Linnaean taxonomy, which is still in widespread use. Statement "C" is wrong -- it is like saying that hydrogen is the "primary" element in water molecules. Natural selection is not enough -- genetic change is also needed for natural selection to act upon.

IMO it would also be nice to add a statement about teaching both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution theory.

The legislature also might make changes in the standards -- legislators have already threatened to add the word "theory."


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Larry Moran: "Darwin was the greatest scientist who ever lived"

He said it right here.

Darwin never even got the title "Sir" whereas some other British scientists got the title "Lord," e.g., Lord Kelvin, Lord Rutherford.

I was originally tempted to start calling Larry "Larry Moron." However, to Larry's credit, he severely criticized giving Judge Jones credit for copied material in the ID-as-science section of the Dover opinion and at the same time Larry also thoroughly bashed Fatheaded Ed Brayton. Here is some of what Larry wrote:
Ed and his followers — a dozen or so at last count — are not happy. Apparently, I have violated one of the cardinal sins of the appeasers. I have questioned one of the good guys. They want to make sure everyone understands the depth of my ignorance. Thanks, Ed, I appreciate the lesson from such an expert. . . .

. . . .Enough, Ed. I never said that the validity of his ruling was in question. I'm in no position to judge the minutiae of American constitutional law. One of the things that I didn't know was that a judge can just copy the arguments of one side and claim them as his own. I also didn't know that in your culture this can be a sign of intelligence, even brilliance. It explains a lot. Thanks for the lesson . . .

. . . .Chalk it up to ignorance, Ed. I was ignorant of the way you do things down there and of your standards for brilliance. I'll try not to overestimate you again.

Larry also said in a comment,

Referring to Judge Jones, you say ...
He did not merely sign off on one side, but took the material from both sides and took a month to sort through what occurred at trial and put together a first rate summary of the issues from the materials he had been comparing and which had been debated before the bench. It was not all his own wording; but that's not a defect, nor is it a denial of the time he did spend sorting through the issues.

I find it incredible that you could say such a thing. Obviously, you have never taken the time to compare what Jones wrote to what's in the Plaintiff's submission. Any junior clerk could have copied the material in a single afternoon, making some minor changes of wording. This is not a case of picking and choosing from both sides and writing a summary that incorporates a few phrases here and there. It's wholesale copying, the order is the same and entire paragraphs are copied for 34 pages.

As I said, my biggest problem with Judge Jones is not his copying but is the one-sidedness of his copying -- his ID-as-science section was nearly entirely copied from the plaintiffs' opening post-trial brief while nearly entirely ignoring the other post-trial briefs. Also, I agree with Larry that a judge should not be given credit for what that judge copies.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

More news from Florida


Holding up two oranges -- evidence of evolution's contributions to Florida's economy -- at the hearing. Picture is courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel


The Florida Citizens for Science blog says that "support is starting to roll in" for the proposed evolution education standards, but this support is a little late, considering that the Florida board of education is scheduled to make its decision only about a week from now, on Feb. 19.

We opponents of the proposed standards have two big advantages: (1) there are a hell of a lot of us and (2) right now our views are not represented at all in the standards. The proposed evolution education standards do not even have the word "theory." The proposed standards stink. In the words of Darwinist professor Paul Mirecki of Kansas University, the proposed standards were written as "a nice slap in the big fat face of the fundies." Darwinism is so bankrupt that the Darwinists must resort to censorship to help defend it.

The FCS blog says,
I am proud to announce that organizations are now coming forward in support of the new draft of the state science standards.

The first is a complete surprise. Our very first county school board has approved a resolution in support of the standards. Thank you, Monroe County!

Yes, your very first county school board. Congratulations. But according to your own count, 11 county school boards came out against the standards, many or even all of them unanimously.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State also released a letter in support of the standards.

The AUSCS letter claims that evolution is a "fact" and not just a "theory":

Evolution is both a scientific theory and a scientific fact. A scientific "theory" is "a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence." This contrasts the colloquial meaning of "theory," which is just a guess or a hunch. When a scientific theory "has been tested and confirmed so many times that there is no longer a compelling reason to keep testing it or looking for additional examples," scientists also use the term "fact" to describe it. This is the case with evolution: "scientists no longer question whether biological evolution has occurred and is continuing to occur." Thus, arguments that students should learn about "fundamental weaknesses in the science of evolution are unwarranted based on the overwhelming evidence that supports the theory" and will only harm students' education.

This controversy over the term "theory" recalls the following statements that federal appeals court judge Edward Carnes made to a plaintiffs'/appellees' attorney in an oral hearing in the defunct Selman v. Cobb County textbook sticker case:

"I don't think y'all can contest any of the sentences. It is a theory, not a fact; the book supports that."

"Your difficulty is that you've got to take something that actually is reflective of the content of this textbook you like so much, and say it violates the First Amendment."

Videos of the Feb. 11 hearing are here. I wish that audio recordings or transcripts were available -- my dial-up connection is too slow for videos longer than a few minutes.

One of Wesley Elsberry's summaries of the public comments said that one commenter mentioned my favorite criticism of Darwinism, co-evolution, but I don't know how effectively this criticism was presented:


Do not confuse science and faith. Most of the evidence for Darwinism has been refuted or disputed. Blood clotting! Flower and bee co-evolution! Following the Pied Piper, is that science? Science said the world was flat. Scientists are indoctrinated by our educational system! I was! Faith in Evolution!




Tuesday, February 12, 2008

New book links Darwin to Hitler and Stalin

A news article said,

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The founder of a popular Kentucky Christian museum that rejects evolution says in a new book that Darwin's theory fuels racism and genocide.

Ken Ham, who opened the Creation Museum last year, and co-author Charles Ware, president of Crossroads Bible College in Indianapolis, have written ''Darwin's Plantation: Evolution's Racist Roots,'' arguing that the theory inspired the Nazi belief in racial superiority and the murderous policies of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

"What Darwinian evolution did I would say is provide what people thought was a scientific justification for separation of races," Ham said in an interview.

Ham is not the first to try to tie Darwin with racism. The charge has been made for years.

It came up last month in arguments over science curriculum at a South Carolina state school board meeting. In 2001, Louisiana's state legislature considered a bill that said Darwin supported racist ideologies. . . .

. . . "Stalin, Hitler and Mao were responsible for the deaths of tens of millions -- and it can be shown they did this because of the influence of Darwinian naturalism...," Ham writes . . .

In South Carolina, that state's board of education approved a biology textbook that references evolution. One board member had argued that the scientific theory was used by Nazi Germany as an excuse to kill millions of people.

People don't need a "scientific justification for separation of the races." For example, before Darwin's Origin of Species was published in 1859, the constitution of Illinois prohibited blacks from settling in the state.

I have previously stated my opinion that there is an unquestionable connection between Darwinism and Nazi eugenics programs. In the USA, the Eugenics Record Office merged with the Station for Experimental Evolution in 1920 to form the Carnegie Institution's Dept. of Genetics, and the Nazis were inspired by the American eugenics programs. However, Nazi anti-semitism did not target the mentally and/or physically handicapped and so was not a true eugenics program.

Linking Darwin to Stalin is something new to me.



Feb. 11 Florida board of education hearing

The Florida board of education's final public hearing on the proposed state science standards is reported here, here, and here. The results look pretty good -- estimates of the number of public speakers range from over 70 to over 80 and it is estimated that one-half to two-thirds of them opposed the proposed evolution education standards as written. The proposed Florida state science standards are unfair because they have nothing representing the views of the many people -- probably a majority -- who oppose dogmatic teaching of Darwinism. At the very least, the board of education should add the word "theory" to the proposed standards. Another good factor is that the legislature is breathing down the board's neck, threatening to insert the word "theory" if the board fails to do so.

An article on tampabay.com (St. Petersburg Times) says:
One man linked Charles Darwin to Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Mao Tse-tung. Another said evolution sanctioned murder. Still another held up an orange and said that because of evolution, he now had irrefutable evidence that an orange was "the first cousin to somebody's pet cat" and "related to human beings."

Other opponents spoke in more measured tones, saying they did not want the inclusion of creationism or intelligent design in science classrooms -- just a treatment of evolution that included its holes, gaps and flaws.

"Science is not infallible," said Tampa doctor Elizabeth McVeigh.

"I'm frightened," countered Robert Hankinson of Orlando. "Let the experts in science decide what my kids are taught in science."

In related developments, a coalition of conservative religious groups asked the Board of Education for 15 minutes to make their case at next week's meeting. The board said last week it would not take public input Feb. 19, so board members would have more time to deliberate among themselves . . . .

. . . Also Monday, 40 members of the committee that drafted the science standards issued a statement affirming their work and declaring, "There is no longer any valid scientific criticism of the theory of evolution."

Buckling to "special interest groups," it continued, "would not only seriously impede the education of our children but also create the image of a backward state, raising the risk of Florida's being snubbed by biotechnology companies and other science-based businesses."

The speakers at these public hearings will probably have the greatest influence because the board of education must have received thousands of written comments but does not have the time to read all of them. Here are the things I would have liked to discuss if I had the opportunity to speak at one of these public hearings:

(1) Kitzmiller v. Dover: Judge Jones showed extreme prejudice against the Dover defendants -- regardless of whether or not intelligent design is a religious idea -- by saying in a Dickinson College 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. He also allowed the ACLU to virtually ghost-write the entire ID-as-science section of the opinion.

(2) Fordham Institute (no connection to Fordham U.): The Fordham Institute's reports on state science standards lack credibility. For example, though evolution education counts for only 3 points out of 69 in the Fordham rating system, Fordham threatened to drop Ohio's overall science standards grade from a B to an F just because the Ohio evolution lesson plan included weaknesses of Darwinism.

(3) Co-evolution: In the co-evolution of total co-dependence between two kinds of organisms, e.g., bees and flowering plants, unlike in evolutionary adaptation to widespread fixed physical features of the environment, e.g., water, land, and air, there may be nothing to adapt to because the corresponding co-dependent traits are likely to be initially absent locally in the other organism. Mutations producing traits that are potentially beneficial in co-evolution of total co-dependence are likely to be fatal or harmful in the absence of corresponding traits in the other organisms. The difficulties of co-evolution are an example of a weakness of Darwinism.



Monday, February 11, 2008

Darwinists perpetuate myth of "flat earth" myth

Darwinists argue that critics of Darwinism are hindering progress in the same way that an alleged belief that the earth is flat prevented the discovery of America until Columbus came along and challenged that "flat earth" belief by claiming that he could reach India by sailing west. But that story about Columbus is just a myth -- belief in a "flat earth" was not widespread in the middle ages. I remember hearing this Columbus myth repeated as fact by one of my teachers. Even Wickedpedia -- no friend of criticisms of Darwinism -- concedes that this story about Columbus is fictional.

An article says,

The idea that the earth is flat is a modern concoction that reached its peak only after Darwinists tried to discredit the Bible, an American history professor says.

Jeffrey Burton Russell is a professor of history at the University of California in Santa Barbara. He says in his book Inventing the Flat Earth (written for the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's journey to America in 1492) that through antiquity and up to the time of Columbus, “nearly unanimous scholarly opinion pronounced the earth spherical.”

Russell says there is nothing in the documents from the time of Columbus or in early accounts of his life that suggests any debate about the roundness of the earth. He believes a major source of the myth came from the creator of the Rip Van Winkle story -- Washington Irving -- who wrote a fictitious account of Columbus's defending a round earth against misinformed clerics and university professors.

But Russell says the flat earth mythology flourished most between 1870 and 1920, and had to do with the ideological setting created by struggles over evolution. He says the flat-earth myth was an ideal way to dismiss the ideas of a religious past in the name of modern science.

However, Darwinists are still repeating the myth of this "flat earth" myth even today.

BTW, Washington Irving also wrote "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." He obviously liked to tell tall tales.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Choices for Florida Board of Education

The Florida Board of Education is scheduled to make a decision about the proposed evolution education standards at a meeting on Feb. 19. Here are some possible choices for the board:
(1) -- reject all of the proposed evolution education standards. This is unlikely, as it would waste all of the effort made in creating and evaluating those standards.

(2) -- approve the standards as is. Questionable because the standards are so controversial.

(3) -- delete the most controversial part(s) of the evolution education standards, particularly the introduction: "Evolution and Diversity: A. Evolution is the fundamental concept underlying all of biology and is supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence. B. Organisms are classified based on their evolutionary history. C. Natural selection is the primary mechanism leading to evolutionary change." This is a strong possibility.

(4) -- add wording stating or suggesting that there are "other theories," as suggested by resolutions passed by some Florida county school boards. Unlikely because there is no good alternative scientific "theory, " though Darwinism itself is arguably a bad scientific theory. It is especially unlikely that the school board will add hot-button terms like "intelligent design."

(5) -- add mention of "weaknesses" of Darwinism. A strong possibility.

(6) -- call evolution a "theory." A strong possibility -- the legislature is threatening to do this if the board of education fails to do so.

(7) -- postpone action. A possibility, even though the board has already postponed action once, as I remember.



Fatheaded Ed? Fatheaded Ed? Bueller?

Bueller? Bueller?

There is no connection between this article by Fatheaded Ed Brayton and the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Creationism expanding in Europe

An AOL news article says,

LONDON (Feb. 9) - After the Sunday service in Westminster Chapel [a 165-year-old evangelical church that is not affiliated with nearby Westminster Abbey, where Darwin is buried], where worshippers were exhorted to wage "the culture war" in the World War II spirit of Sir Winston Churchill, cabbie James McLean delivered his verdict on Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

"Evolution is a lie, and it's being taught in schools as fact, and it's leading our kids in the wrong direction," said McLean, chatting outside the chapel. "But now people like Ken Ham are tearing evolution to pieces."

Ken Ham is the founder of Answers in Genesis, a Kentucky-based organization that is part of an ambitious effort to bring creationist theory to Britain and the rest of Europe. McLean is one of a growing number of evangelicals embracing that message -- that the true history of the Earth is told in the Bible, not Darwin's "The Origin of Species."

Europeans have long viewed the conflict between evolutionists and creationists as primarily an American phenomenon, but it has recently jumped the Atlantic Ocean with skirmishes in Italy, Germany, Poland and, notably, Britain, where Darwin was born and where he published his 1859 classic.

Darwin's defenders are fighting back. In October, the 47-nation Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog, condemned all attempts to bring creationism into Europe's schools. Bible-based theories and "religious dogma" threaten to undercut sound educational practices, it charged.

. . . A British branch of Answers in Genesis, which shares a Web site with its American counterpart, has managed to introduce its creationist point of view into science classes at a number of state-supported schools in Britain, said Monty White, the group's chief executive. . . . .
. . . .the British government is taking over funding of about 100 Islamic schools even though they teach the Quranic version of creationism. He said the government fear imposing evolution theory on the curriculum lest it be branded as anti-Islamic.

Unfortunately, the article presents the conflict as just being between Darwinism and religious creationism -- there is no discussion of the scientific criticisms of evolution theory.

Europe is actually a more fertile ground than the USA for promoting criticism of Darwinism in the public schools because many European nations -- including Britain -- have no constitutional separation of church and state, which Darwinists have been abusing in the USA to block criticism of Darwinism in the public schools. And European nations -- like the USA -- have no constitutional separation of bad science and state.

I myself am opposed to the teaching of biblical creationism in the public schools, though I think it is OK for public-school science classes to have evolution disclaimer statements that mention biblical creationism in order to help reduce Darwinism's offense to the fundies (though of course the evolution disclaimer statements can be effective without mentioning biblical creationism). Actually, biblical creationism does not offer much to teach, because the story of creation covers only about two pages of the bible. I am of course also in favor of teaching the scientific weaknesses of Darwinism.

Also, as creationism spreads to other developed countries, the Darwinists' argument that creationism in the USA is making the USA a world laughingstock becomes less tenable.



Darwinists object to word "theory"

Darwinian dogmatism has gotten out of hand -- the Darwinists are now objecting to use of the word "theory" to describe evolution. An article in the Miami Herald says,

TALLAHASSEE -- Top state legislators say they're ready to join the fight over putting the word ''evolution'' in Florida's public school science standards to ensure that it's taught as just a theory and not as fact.

Rep. Marti Coley, future House Speaker Dean Cannon and state Sen. Stephen Wise, all Republicans, say they're considering filing legislation this spring that would specifically call evolution a ''theory'' if the state Board of Education approves the proposed science standards Feb. 19 as currently written.

For the first time in state history, the standards would clearly call on all science teachers to instruct middle- and high-schoolers about evolution and natural selection.

The proposed standards just say "evolution," not "theory of evolution."

Though Wise says biblical creationism should be taught alongside evolution, Coley said she doesn't want to go that far with evolution.

"It's technically a theory. Let's present it for what it is" Coley told The Miami Herald on Tuesday.

Coley's proposal concerns backers of mainstream science because they fear the word "theory" could be easily manipulated to cast doubt on evolution, a pillar of biology . . .

In common usage, a theory is just a guess. In scientific terms, a theory -- like gravity or quantum mechanics -- is a testable explanation of a phenomenon based on facts.

"If you use the word theory to imply that scientists think evolution is just a hypothesis and is not real, that gives an incorrect impression," said Prof. Joseph Travis, the dean of Florida State University's Arts and Sciences College, who reviewed the state's science standards.

"If you use the word theory to say it's the best idea to explain how it works, then that's good," he said.

State Senator Wise's position that biblical creationism should be taught alongside evolution is unusual among legislators.

Not putting the word "theory" in the evolution education standards just because some ignorant people might interpret it as meaning "guess" rather than its scientific meaning is just playing word games. Would there be any objection to calling the "Big Bang" a "theory"? This reminds me of the time when some ignorant people found the word "niggardly" to be racially offensive (remember that one?). And in a discussion over whether a sportscaster's remark about Tiger Woods' golf-pro rivals "lynch(ing) him in a back alley" was racially offensive, a commenter on Fatheaded Ed Brayton's blog observed that saying that "other golfers need to find the chink in Tiger's armor" (Woods has some Chinese and Thai ancestry) also might unintentionally offend some people on racial grounds. I nearly died laughing after reading that one. Fatheaded Ed, who kicked me off his blog permanently because he thought that my literal interpretation of a federal court rule was stupid, apparently had no problem with that comment.

I predict that the current language in the proposed Florida evolution education standards is not going to survive. If the state board of education accepts this language as is, IMO the board is likely to be overruled by the legislature. I believe that legislators tend to be skeptical about Darwinism -- for example, the original Santorum Amendment to the No Child Left Behind Act passed the US Senate by 91-8 and a modified version of the amendment was put in the Congressional report accompanying the joint Senate-House version of the bill. Also, resolutions opposing the proposed standards were passed by about a dozen Florida county school boards, in many or even all cases unanimously.

Also, it is noteworthy that alleged "creationist" Cheri Yecke came close to being selected for the position of Florida Commissioner of Education. She was one of three finalists out of 24 applicants considered to be eligible and the Darwinists tried very hard to derail her candidacy.



Friday, February 08, 2008

Another Florida school board to consider resolution against Darwinian dogmatism

The Florida Citizens for Science blog reports that the Bay District School Board in Bay County, Florida, will at its coming Wednesday meeting consider a resolution against the current proposed state science standards that call for dogmatic teaching of Darwiinism. The email addresses of the school board members and the superintendent are:




Thursday, February 07, 2008

Highlands County school board cops out

A Feb. 7 news article reported that the Highlands County school board in Florida failed to pass a resolution opposing the proposed state science standards on evolution education. Previous news articles -- here and here -- reported that all five school board members were leaning towards passing such a resolution. The school board has no credibility. I could understand one or two members being persuaded to change their minds -- but more? There were two different proposed resolutions and the board did not vote on either of them, and the board did not even discuss the resolutions after the public testimony. Well, as Sir Thomas More said in the play "A Man for All Seasons," silence betokens consent, not denial. LOL

According to the Feb. 7 news article, there were 10 public speakers opposed to the resolutions. Florida Citizens for Science said that there was one public speaker in favor of the resolutions, but this public speaker is not mentioned in the news article. The underrepresentation of pro-resolution speakers was probably a factor in the defeat of the resolutions. Another factor was that email addresses of the board members were not posted, making it difficult for supporters of the resolutions to send in opinions.

The Feb. 7 news article said,

The original resolution the school board considered states, "the State Board of Education is urged strongly to direct the Florida Department of Education to revise the new Sunshine State Standards for Science such that the "Big Bang" theory and evolution shall be presented only as two of several theories in the study of science."

School Board Chairman J. Ned Hancock suggested an alternative resolution, which was prepared shortly before Tuesday's meeting, that stated, "the board urges the State Board of Education to direct the Florida Department of Education to revise the new Sunshine State Standards for Science to allow for balanced, objective and intellectually open instruction in regard to evolution, teaching the scientific strengths and weaknesses of the theory rather than teaching evolution as dogmatic fact."

The alternative resolution, which as I noted also failed to pass, says nothing about other theories -- it only asks that the new state standards "allow" the teaching of scientific weaknesses of evolution. The Darwinists are not only saying that scientific weaknesses of evolution are not known now, but are also saying that such weaknesses are not going to be found in the future. It's like Judge Jones' following ruling in the Kitzmiller v. Dover decision, inter alia: "we will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants . . . . from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution . . " He was not only ruling against Intelligent Design but was also ruling against criticisms of Darwinism that he had not even considered. The Darwinists have inaugurated a reign of terror where some Darwinists themselves -- like some of the leaders in the Reign of Terror in the French Revolution -- will become victims. Darwinian dogma will become so rigid that even unorthodox versions of the dogma -- e.g., punctuated equilibrium -- will not be tolerated.

On the bright side: apparently no Florida county school board has yet passed a resolution supporting the proposed state science standards and around a dozen have passed resolutions in opposition.

Chalk up another Pyrrhic victory for the Darwinists.



Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Fatheaded Ed Brayton the phony sports pundit

BVD-clad blogger Fatheaded Ed Brayton posted a long review of current college basketball. It is obvious that Ed did not write all that stuff -- one would have to be a full-time sports analyst to write such a detailed review. Fatheaded Ed just copied all that stuff or most of it from somewhere else and pasted it. What a plagiarist. And a lot of his writings are just plain stupid, e.g.,
Most overrated team so far: my Duke Blue Devils. They're 17-1 and ranked #3 (and about to move up to #2 because of a Kansas loss). There's no way they're that good. This is a good team that plays very hard, which can make them look like a great team at times, but in the end their lack of an inside player will be their undoing in the tournament.

They're deep and they're fun to watch, but I just don't see them hanging with the big boys.

Imagine -- they are 17-1, ranked #3 and moving up to #2, and "they're deep and fun to watch," but they lack an "inside player" and Ed just doesn't "see them hanging with the big boys." They are the big boys, you stupid fathead. What an idiot. If Ed did not write that stuff himself, it was written by a super-dumb sportswriter. Sheeeesh.

Blogging about sports is one of the ways Ed attracts readers to his blog.



Tuesday, February 05, 2008

King Jimbo Wales has the nerve to ask librarians to help improve Wickedpedia

A news article says,

"Librarians are not engaging with the academies," said Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. "If libraries throughout the world formed regional groups and made an effort, they would be playing a positive role within Wikipedia. The job of the librarian is about highlighting the weaknesses and strengths of information."

Jimmy Wales, one of the founders of online encyclopedia phenomenon Wikipedia, has called on librarians to become deeply involved in the Web-based communities that surround his products.

One professional librarian who specializes in the field of electronic publications responded on his blog,
According to Jimmy Wales, the quality of the Wikipedia would be improved if only librarians 'engaged' with the encyclopedia. He wants information professionals to form and join Wikipedia Academies to create a generation of editors who will drive the standards upward. The job of a librarian, you may be interested to learn is 'about highlighting the weaknesses and strengths of information'.

. . . Now, perhaps I'm reading this incorrectly, but is he actually trying to shift the responsibility for ensuring the quality of content over to information professionals? When exactly are we supposed to be doing this? I'm all in favour of fixing and improving things, but I think it's a stretch to try and put responsibility onto the profession.

And fatheaded King Jimbo doesn't seem to understand that a lot of people have simply lost interest in trying to improve Wickedpedia. Wickedpedia is a lost cause. Trying to improve Wickedpedia is like trying to make the proverbial silk purse out of a sow's ear. One school district has even gone so far as to block Wickedpedia on all of the school district's computers, with the result that students cannot even use Wickedpedia to find other sources. That is some testimonial for Wickedpedia.



Charity fundraiser


Fatheaded Ed Brayton the hypocrite

Unscrupulous BVD-clad blogger Fatheaded Ed Brayton says on his blog,

. . .silencing those whose views enrage us is really just a poor means of assuaging our own insecurities.

Fatheaded Ed does not really believe in free speech -- otherwise he would not have permanently banned me from commenting on his blog.

The zeal to censor, while understandable on an emotional level, is primarily a reflection of our lack of confidence in the power of reason to persuade and to separate the true from the false.




Sunday, February 03, 2008

Florida update


The Florida Citizens for Science reported that as of Jan. 31, 11 Florida county school boards had passed resolutions opposing the proposed Florida science standards' requirement that Darwinism be taught dogmatically. The FCS incorrectly stated for each of these Florida school boards, "the school board passed a formal resolution against the inclusion of evolution in the state science standards. " In all cases where I have seen a board’s actual resolution or read a media report about a resolution, the board did not say that it doesn’t want evolution to be taught at all. Many, maybe even all of the resolutions passed unanimously -- FCS does not mention any dissenting votes.

Futile efforts to keep these resolutions from spreading are keeping the Florida Citizens for Science busier than the proverbial one-legged man trying to stomp out a fire in a powder magazine.

The Pandas Thumb blog claims that one county school board, Brevard County's, supports the proposed standards, but there is no evidence of that. Quoting a Florida Today news article, Panda's Thumb says,
Superintendent Richard DiPatri said the change wouldn’t make a difference in Brevard Public Schools, where evolution already is taught and the curriculum is aligned with national science education standards . . . .

Ginger Davis, a science resource teacher for the Brevard district, said students participate in labs where theories of evolution can be proven.

“Evolutions is much more than just that one little piece of Darwin,” she said. “It is a fundamental scientific concept that you can observe in a lab, but people tend to want to focus on that little narrow piece.”

She said that in science, a theory is much like a law. Theories have to stand the test of time, and it’s more about observable trends than schools of thought, Davis said.

Interpreting that as school board support for the new science standards is wishful thinking.

A news article in the News Leader, a weekly Florida newspaper, says,

This language is proposed in draft revisions to Sunshine State Standards for science, evolution and diversity being considered for various grades by the state.

~~ Kindergarten: "Observe and describe . . . .

~~ Second: "Differentiate . . . . . .

~~ 12th: "Explain how evolution is demonstrated by the fossil record, extinction, comparative anatomy, comparative embryology, biogeography, molecular biology (crosscuts with Earth/space), and observed evolutionary change; discuss the use of molecular clocks to estimate how long ago various groups of organisms diverged evolutionarily from one another; explain the reasons for changes in how organisms are classified; compare and contrast organisms at kingdom level; discuss distinguishing characteristics of major kingdoms, . . . Express scientific explanations of the origin of life on Earth."

There is nothing in there specifically about the weaknesses of evolution theory. It might be possible to squeeze some of these weaknesses in under the standard, "Express scientific explanations of the origin of life on Earth."

The News Leader article also said,

The Nassau County School Board will ask state education officials to revise science standards "so that evolution is not presented as fact" . . .

. . . . Board members voted unanimously Thursday to adopt the resolution recommended by Schools Superintendent John Ruis . . .

Board members Gail Cook and Janet Adkins asked the superintendent to forward the resolution to the Florida Legislature, in addition to the state board of education.

"I was hoping they had heard enough" from the public "that we wouldn't have to do this," Cook said.

The state board will meet Feb. 19 in Tallahassee to consider the science standards.

Maybe one reason why the state board and the legislature have not "heard enough" from the public is that there have been 11 politically correct newspaper editorials that support the new standards and apparently no newspaper editorials that are opposed (see this and this), and this perhaps gives the false impression that public support for the proposed standards is overwhelming.

The controversy must really be heating up in Florida, because the SiteMeter for Florida Citizens for Science shows what must be some of the biggest spikes (see this and this) in website visits in American history -- from under 200 visits per day on Jan. 4-6 to over 10,000 visits on Jan. 11, and from 2,745 visits per month or less for Feb.-Oct. 07 to 33,731 visits for Jan. 08 and 19,643 visits for Dec. 07.



Saturday, February 02, 2008

Darwinist petition supports proposed FL science standards

The Darwinists have posted an online petition supporting the proposed Florida science education standards:


The petition, which is full of the usual "whereas's," says,
WHEREAS: The current Sunshine State Science Education Standards have received an ‘F’ from the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation while the proposed revised standards have been graded excellent by one of the scientists who previously authored the report that gave Florida its failing grade.

The Fordham Foundation's (or Institute's) report on state science standards has no credibility. Even though evolution education counts for only 3 points out of a maximum possible 69 points in the Fordham science standards rating system, Fordham threatened to drop Ohio's overall grade from a B to an F just because of the Ohio evolution lesson plan. The Fordham report has vague criteria for rating the science standards (e.g., expectations, purpose, audience; quality; seriousness), and the report's ratings are subjective and arbitrary and have no correlation with student performance. Paul R. Gross, chief author of the report, is a Darwinist bigot who co-authored Creationism's Trojan Horse, a book claiming that critics of Darwinism are conspiring to turn the USA into a fundy-type theocracy. There is no connection to Fordham U., which should sue the Fordham Foundation (or Institute) for trademark infringement.

WHEREAS: The revised standards address the scientific theory of evolution without equivocation or the introduction of nonscientific notions.

Many Darwinists admit that Darwinism has weaknesses and say that scientists are working on resolving those weaknesses. The new Florida science standards imply that the weaknesses don't exist at all.

Evolution is the central organizing concept that allows us to understand all biological sciences from medicine to forestry to entomology

There we go again with that "grand central supreme overarching underlying unifying principle of biology" stuff.

and its principles are the theoretical basis that underlies major advances in all biological fields


Students must understand the current state of the science to be part of an informed citizenry.

I agree -- but they should understand the weaknesses as well as the strengths of Darwinism.

WHEREAS: The economy of Florida requires the foundation of well educated citizens in order to compete and prosper within global competition.

A knowledge of Darwinism is required for relatively few high-tech jobs and a belief in Darwinism is required for none. Anyway, I am not aware of anyone who is seriously proposing that Darwinism not be taught at all.