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.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Darwinists still gloating over the Dover decision

The Kitzmiller v. Dover decision was handed down over three years ago. Though it was just a decision of a single judge and is not binding precedent outside the Dover Area school district, the Darwinists continue to gloat over it as though it were something important -- the rest of the world has moved on. Never before in American history has so much weight been given to the opinion of a single judge. The latest manifestation of the Darwinists' gloating over the Kitzmiller decision is a Biochemical Journal article about the decision. I previously discussed this article here, and I will now expand upon that discussion.

The courts should declare scientific questions in the evolution controversy to be non-justiciable. It is like the question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Questions are non-justiciable when there is “a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving the question.” Vieth v. Jubelirer, 541 U.S. 267 (2004). Even if a court could reach fair decisions on scientific questions about evolution after several weeks of scientific testimony, appellate courts would not want to rubber-stamp a district court's decisions about those questions, nor would appellate courts want to hear or review several weeks of scientific testimony. In Massachusetts v. EPA, the Supreme Court treated the global warming question as non-justiciable.

The authors of the article, Kevin Padian and Nicholas Matzke, and the sole credited reviewer of the article, Eric Rothschild, are extremely biased because of their direct involvement in the Kitzmiller case. Kevin Padian was an expert plaintiffs' witness in the trial, Nicholas Matzke advised the plaintiffs' team, and Eric Rothschild was one of the plaintiffs' lead attorneys. Though the article is about the law, authors Padian and Matzke probably have no expertise in the law even as amateurs. I will not hold it against them that they are not legal professionals unless someone holds it against me that I write about the law even though I am not a legal professional.
The bibliography lists four books about the case, including "Monkey Girl" and "The Devil in Dover," but does not list the Discovery Institute's book about the case, "Traipsing into Evolution."

There have been several law journal articles about the case and the Biochemistry Journal article did not cite a single one of them. Several of these law journal articles have been reviewed on this blog under two post-label groups titled "Expert opinions about Kitzmiller" (the reason why there are two post-label groups on the same subject is that my Blogger.com template-mode software limits me to a maximum of 20 articles per post label). Some of these law journal articles are highly critical of the Dover decision.

The article makes no mention of the following criticisms of Judge Jones and the Dover decision:

(1) A Discovery Institute study showed that the Kitzmiller opinion's ID-as-science section was copied nearly verbatim from the plaintiffs' opening post-trial brief while ignoring the defendants' post-trial brief and the plaintiffs' and defendants' answering post-trial briefs. Darwinists falsely claim that it is a common practice for judges to just copy the winning side's arguments while completely ignoring the losing side's arguments, but even if that claim were true, Judge Jones probably would not have ignored the defendants arguments had he believed that an appeal of his decision was likely (an appeal was unlikely because of a changeover in the Dover school board's members).

(2) Judge Jones showed extreme prejudice against intelligent design and the Dover defendants -- regardless of whether or not ID is a religious concept -- by saying in a Dickinson College commencement speech that his Dover decision was based on his cockamamie notion that the Founders based the establishment clause upon a belief that organized religions are not "true" religions. IMO that statement alone completely discredits the decision.

Tennessee's law banning evolution, and other such state laws and many local policies, remained on the books for decades. As a result, textbook publishers, who wanted to publish one book and sell it across the country, deleted or minimized the treatment of evolution . . . (page 3 of PDF file, page 31 of original document)

I don't see how publishing two different editions of a biology text for sale in different places is a hardship for publishers. For example, a popular biology text, "Biology" by Ken Miller and Joe Levine, comes in regular, California, and Texas editions.

This remained the status quo until the 1960's. when in the wake of Sputnik and the fear that the communists were ahead of the U.S. in science, the federal government poured money into science education and textbooks.(page 3 of PDF file, page 31 of original document)

As I recall, Sputnik (1957) did not cause any surge of interest in evolution theory. I cannot even recall studying evolution in high-school biology in the early 1960's. Evolution theory was of no use in the US space program.

However, the lawsuit was not going to immediately block implementation of the policy, so the teachers of their own accord refused to read the statement. (page 4 of PDF file, page 32 of original document)

It is not mentioned that the teachers reneged on an agreement to accept "Of Pandas and People" as a supplemental text instead of a companion text (on the other hand, IMO the school board should have given the teachers more say in the wording of the ID statement).

The Board decided that district administrators would come into the classrooms and read it, but, unusually for an educational experience, no questions or discussions would be allowed afterwards (page 4 of PDF file, page 32 of original document)

Well, the administrators were probably not experts on the subject, so what would have been the point of questions and discussions? Also, maybe not allowing questions and discussions was for the purpose of avoiding charges that ID was actually being taught.

The NCSE [National Center for Science Education] is the only organization in the country whose full-time mission is the protection of evolution and other scientific concepts from assault in the public schools by sectarian threats; it is also the premier organization in the country that clarifies "the nature of science," i.e., what science is and how it differs as an approach from other modes of human inquiry, to the general public, government agencies, the media and educational administrations. (page 4 of PDF file, page 32 of original document)

That statement is blatant self-advertising -- the two authors, Padian and Matzke, are on the staff of the NCSE.

Because ID proponents are notoriously evasive about some of their views, even many critics are under the impression that ID proponents accept common ancestry and the ancient age of the Earth. But almost all reject common ancestry in favor of the notion that only minor evolution can occur, and only within the specially created "kinds" commanded by God to reproduce "after their kind" in Genesis. (page 5 of PDF file, page 33 of original document)

That is a grossly unfair stereotype. BTW, prominent ID proponents Michael Behe and William Dembski have both accepted common ancestry.

. . . the DI claimed that they did not support putting ID into science curricula, and that they had never suggested such a thing. (page 10 of PDF file, page 38 of original document)

I am not aware that the DI ever claimed that they never supported putting ID into science curricula (i.e., actually teaching ID instead of just mentioning it). The article is full of such unsubstantiated statements.

Judge Jones literally had no choice but to rule on whether or not ID was science. The plaintiffs asked him to rule on exactly this, and so did the defence. (pages 10 of pdf file, page 38 of original document)

I have already discussed this here.

Michael Behe and other DI [Discovery Institute] associates (including Cardinal Christophe Schoenborn of Vienna, whose op-ed pieces and essays have been scripted by the DI), define evolution as "random mutation and natural selection", which is not a definition used by evolutionary biologists (page 11 of PDF file, page 39 of original document)

WHAT? How is Cardinal Schoenborn a "DI associate"? And how has his op-ed pieces and essays "been scripted by the DI"? This is really off the wall (more about "random mutation and natural selection" later).

Critical thinking is one of the greatest skills students can learn . . . .Creationists, however, would like students to hear and learn "criticisms" about evolution . . . But they have no interest in having students learn "critical thinking" about other topics, such as American history, theology or grammar. (page 11 of PDF file, page 39 of original document)

WHAT? There is no basis for such a statement -- and even if there were, how is that an argument against learning critical thinking skills in evolution education?

Whereas Americans, as a whole, are not as scientifically literate as the citizenries of most other developed countries (and many undeveloped ones), this is not a problem of mere ignorance but of worldview. (page 12 of PDF file, page 40 of original document)

There is no substantiation of the statement that "Americans, as a whole, are not as scientifically literate as the citizenries of most other developed countries (and many undeveloped ones)."

We highly recommend Randy Olson's film "Flock of Dodos" . . . . the 'dodos' of his title are not average Americans, nor even the creationist distorters of evolution, but the evolutionists themselves: the scientists who cannot explain the most basic concepts to the man or woman on the street, the experts who convey such elitism and condescension that previously open-minded audience members recoil from them and embrace the smooth-talking, smiling, and apparently equally open-minded creationists. Who would you rather have a beer with? (page 12 of PDF file, page 40 of original document)

Some good points there.

There is no standard definition of evolution, possibly because evolution is so complex, works at so many levels, and can be studied in so many ways. A definition of evolution as "random mutation and natural selection" is popular among ID advocates and other creationists, but as far as we know is not used by biologists, most of whom prefer Darwin's formulation "descent with modification." The ID definition refers to two processes of evolution and does not acknowledge that all life is interrelated. (pages 10 of pdf file, page 38 of original document)

What? The term "descent with modification" is too vague and general to be a definition of evolution. Also, the above statement is contradicted elsewhere in the article:

Dembski never takes seriously the crucial point that biological change is the result of chance and necessity -- that is, mutations create variety, and natural selection non-randomly preserves the variations that work. (page 6 of PDF file, page 34 of original document)

Darwin turned the design argument in biology on its head with his law of natural selection . . . (page 5 of PDF file, page 33 of original document)

Evolution News & Views has a post by Casey Luskin about the Biochemical Journal article. The post has an anonymous letter which says,

In their guideline to authors the journal editors state:
The Biochemical Journal publishes papers in English in all fields of biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology, provided that they make a sufficient contribution to knowledge in these fields.... All work presented should have as its aim the development of biochemical concepts rather than the mere recording of facts.

. . . . . The “review article” in question contains nothing of scientific merit. There are no interpretations of experimental results, no theories advanced, no biochemical concepts developed. There is no review of the current state of a particular scientific field, either. Instead, the review by Padian and Matzke is a one-sided retelling of a legal trial with some simplistic historical analysis and ersatz theology thrown in. The article conflates creationism and intelligent design, misrepresents the views of intelligent design scientists and the Discovery Institute, and engages in vicious character assassination. It is a blatant attempt to scare people away from intelligent design by proclaiming that “no one with scientific or philosophical integrity is going to take [ID] seriously in future.”

The simple reality is that this article is a polemical hit piece. It’s not a scholarly work of history or theology, let alone science. It is biased and prejudicial in its retelling of events, imputing motives to people without first-hand knowledge of events. It makes sweeping statements and broad generalizations with no independent verifiability. It puffs the credentials of one of its authors while snidely referring to the “allegedly peer-reviewed books” of a scientist it attacks and calling him “chicken”.

It is very hypocritical of the Darwinists to applaud this grossly inappropriate article in the Biochemical Journal while condemning Richard Sternberg's approval of Stephen Meyer's paper for publication in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington.

Also, the Questionable Authority blog has a post about Padian's and Matzke's article and the post has a comment from me.

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Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

Dogmatic apostles of conventional theories of evolution make the absurd claim that judges are in a position to pontificate on difficult and very debatable questions of the philosophy of science, and also on questions of science itself!

Monday, March 23, 2009 11:11:00 AM  

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