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.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Complex, contentious scientific questions should be declared non-justiciable

There is a big blog debate between Casey Luskin [1] and Ken Miller [2] now going on over the question of the irreducible complexity of the blood-clotting cascade, one of the questions in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Intelligent Design case. This scientific question is obviously so complex and contentious that it should be declared to be non-justiciable. It is like the proverbial question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. And this is only one of several complex and contentious scientific questions that Judge Jones had to deal with in the Dover case. And because of the large amounts of court time wasted on high-profile cases, the courts give short shrift or no shrift to low-profile cases. In courts' allocations of time to different cases, the losses of the many fund the payoffs for the lucky few, just like at any honest racetrack.

There is no constitutional principle of separation of bad science and state.

Ken Miller wrote,
But there is something very strange, and even distressing, about Luskin’s contention that the obvious failings of the arguments in Pandas ["Of Pandas and People," the ID book purchased by the Dover Area school board] are somehow less important than the ones in DBB ["Darwin's Black Box" by Michael Behe]. Why is it OK to give high school readers an argument about the irreducible complexity of the entire cascade that you know to be false (as Luskin admits), just as long as you modify that argument in another book? Luskin seems to have forgotten that the Dover trial was about an issue much more important than the fate of ID…. It was about what should be taught to high school science students.

So what Miller is really saying here is that the Dover school board purchased the wrong ID book -- the board should have purchased "Darwin's Black Box" instead.

And Miller tries to use a 2008 scientific paper to defend a 2005 court decision:

[Russell Doolittle's] 2008 paper [Doolittle et al, 2008] reports on a careful search through the lamprey genome. The lamprey, as luck would have it, has a perfectly functional clotting system, and it lacks not only the three factors missing in jawed fish, but also Factors IX and V.

Panda's Thumb also has an article about the debate.
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2 Comments:

Anonymous Art said...

"There is no constitutional principle of separation of bad science and state. "

However, incompetent teachers who would teach clearly false "refutations" of evolution cannot hide behind some imaginary Constitutional right to free speech or practice of religion. The Constitution does not give them the right to be incompetent in the workplace, nor does it prevent their employers from firing them because of their incompetence. They deserve to be fired, and should be.

Saturday, January 03, 2009 7:07:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Well, elected school-board members and legislators who prescribe the teaching of criticisms of evolution cannot be fired, though they can be voted out of office. But there are valid reasons for teaching criticisms of evolution, even pseudoscientific criticisms: broadening students' education, encouraging critical thinking, increasing student interest, helping students learn the material, helping to prevent misconceptions, and helping to assure that technically sophisticated criticisms are taught by qualified science teachers.

Saturday, January 03, 2009 10:55:00 AM  

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