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, July 30, 2009

Ernst Haeckel and Darwin's influence on Nazism

An online article titled "Charles Darwin's Reception in Germany and What Followed" by Axel Meyer said,

Haeckel, who was the most influential don of German zoology for several decades, probably read Darwin's Origin in German during his PhD work in Jena, since his command of English was not particularly good. The main reason why all of this is of greater, even political, interest beyond issues in the history of science, is that Ernst Haeckel is widely seen—although this is disputed among historians of science—to be in an unholy intellectual line from Darwin to social Darwinism and eugenics in the early twentieth century, eventually leading to fascism in Nazi Germany. Creationist and intelligent-design advocates worldwide tirelessly perpetuate this purported but largely unsubstantiated connection between Darwin, Haeckel, and Hitler. Such efforts are particularly and unnecessarily divisive in this “Darwin year,” when we celebrate not only the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin, but also Darwin's 200th birthday. Furthermore, they do not do justice to Haeckel's understanding of Darwinian evolution by natural selection with all its unpredictability, but, more importantly, seem to aim to further undermine the acceptance of evolution by an often still surprisingly skeptical lay audience.

"Surprisingly skeptical lay audience"? Darwinism has more holes than Swiss cheese -- why should it be "surprising" that the lay audience is skeptical?

The article continues,
Haeckel was, by far, the most successful popularizer of science for more than a generation in Germany. His books were printed in large numbers, translated into several languages, and strongly influenced scientists and layman alike. Haeckel idealized Darwin. . . . . . Haeckel misunderstood many aspects of Darwin's ideas, and perhaps his typical German quest for laws of nature was ill-founded. Nonetheless, he was instrumental in propagating the principle of evolution by natural selection to the then very influential community of German biologists that had long adhered to lamarckian ideas.

Let's see now . . . ."Haeckel was, by far, the most successful popularizer of science for more than a generation in Germany" and "[h]is books . . . strongly influenced scientists and layman alike." Furthermore, "Haeckel idealized Darwin" and Haeckel "was instrumental in propagating the principle of evolution by natural selection to the then very influential community of German biologists that had long adhered to lamarckian ideas." So should it be any surprise that "Ernst Haeckel is widely seen . . . to be in an unholy intellectual line from Darwin to social Darwinism and eugenics in the early twentieth century, eventually leading to fascism in Nazi Germany"? Yet the article speaks of this "unholy intellectual line" as being a "purported but largely unsubstantiated connection between Darwin, Haeckel, and Hitler." Actually, the article's statements alone provide strong evidence of such a connection, and there is certainly enough evidence to justify further investigation of any connection. But the article urges us to bury our heads in the sand by avoiding an "unnecessarily divisive" investigation of this connection during this "Darwin year." But what better opportunity is there to investigate this connection than in this Darwin year, when interest in things related to Darwin is greatly heightened?

BTW, Haeckel was not the only link between Darwin and Hitler. The Nazis were also strongly influenced by American eugenics programs, which were in turn strongly influenced by Darwinism -- in fact, the Eugenics Record Office merged with the Station for Experimental Evolution in 1920 to form the Department of Genetics at the Carnegie Institution. The links between Darwin and Hitler are discussed in two post-label groups on this blog -- Darwin-to-Hitler and Darwin-to-Hitler (new #1) (the reason for the two groups is that I am limited to a maximum of 20 articles per group). Also, post labels are listed in the sidebar of the homepage.

Also, contrary to what appears to be a widespread assumption, Nazi anti-Semitism was not a true eugenics program, because the Nazis targeted Jews who were especially fit -- physically and/or mentally -- as well as unfit Jews. In fact, one of the first things that the Nazis did after coming to power was to fire the highly mentally-fit Jews who were professionals and managers in the civil service. The main contribution of eugenics to Nazi anti-Semitism was to create the idea that it was morally OK to get rid of undesirables.



Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cafeteria Christian Darwinist goyim are anti-Semitic

The "Cafeteria Christian" Darwinist goyim -- e.g., Ken Miller and Francis Collins -- who take the gospel literally but do not take the bible's creation story literally are being anti-Semitic, because that is the exact reverse of what true orthodox Jews believe and hence these Christians are mocking the religious beliefs of orthodox Jews. The Cafeteria Christian goyim further mock Judaism by holding that the Christian New Testament is the literal truth while the Jewish Old Testament is false.

Also, the bible's creation story makes much more sense that the gospel. To be interpreted literally, both the creation story and the gospel require belief in the supernatural, but the bible's creation story is fairly straightforward whereas the gospel is full of illogic, inconsistencies, ambiguities, and unintelligibility. And the creation story is consistent with the idea of an all-powerful god (except for the fact that god had to rest after all that hard work of ordaining creation for six days) whereas the god of the gospel is a weak, limited god who must struggle against Satan for control of the world.

The Cafeteria Christian evolutionist goyim try to justify their beliefs by claiming that the evidence for evolution is overwhelming. However, it doesn't matter how good the evidence for evolution is (the evidence is not good, but that is another matter), because the fundies will always be able to claim that there can be no absolute proof of evolution because no one was there to see and record it.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

I was wrong about previous 9th Circuit rules for citation of published district court opinions

It is generally well-known in legal circles that the 9th Circuit federal court of appeals and 2-3 other federal circuits had local circuit rules generally prohibiting citation of unpublished opinions in any courts of those circuits and that those rules were superseded by a new national rule, Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure Rule 32.1, that allows citation of unpublished opinions in any federal court if the opinions were issued after Jan. 1, 2007 (but Rule 32.1 does not require that unpublished opinions be treated as binding precedent). However, I also vaguely seemed to remember an old local 9th circuit rule prohibiting the citation of federal district court opinions in any court of the 9th circuit, regardless of whether those opinions were published or not (though I now realize I was wrong -- logically, published district court opinions have always been citable in the 9th circuit). I was particularly concerned about such an old rule because of the exaggerated precedential value that Darwinists assumed for Kitzmiller v. Dover, the published district-court decision concerning intelligent design, and I thought it would be a big coup if I could show that there was a time when citation of Kitzmiller was banned in all the courts of the 9th Circuit! I had been unable to check the relevant old 9th circuit local rules because they are no longer posted online. However, I was recently able to make it down to the Los Angeles County Law Library's main branch, which has copies of the old rules. Here are the relevant old rules:
Circuit Rule 36-2 -- Criteria for Publication (current rule -- not repealed)

A written opinion, reasoned disposition shall be designated as an OPINION only if it:

(a) Establishes, alters, modifies or clarifies a rule of law, or

- - - - - -

(e) -- is a disposition of a case in which there is a published opinion by a lower court or administrative agency, unless the panel determines that publication is unnecessary for clarifying the panel's disposition of the case, or

Repealed Circuit Rule 36-3 -- Other dispositions (superseded by national FRAP Rule 32.1)

Any disposition that is not an opinion or an order designated for publication under Circuit Rule 36-5 shall not be regarded as precedent and shall not be cited to or by this Court or any district court of the Ninth Circuit, either in briefs, oral argument, opinions, memoranda, or orders, except when relevant under the doctrines of the law of the case, res judicata, or collateral estoppel.

Circuit Rule 36-2 (e) applies to Kitzmiller because Kitzmiller is a published opinion by a lower court -- e.g., a district court. The wording of Circuit Rule 36-2 (e) is confusing, but I think it says that a 9th Circuit appeals court panel can adopt a published lower court opinion verbatim as an official 9th Circuit opinion if the panel thinks it is not necessary to add a clarification or modifications. However, in order for the panel to adopt the published lower court opinion, that opinion must first be cited, which couldn't be done if the opinion were not citable (per Circuit Rule 36-3) because it is not yet an official 9th Circuit opinion. So the only reasonable conclusion is that published district court opinions have always been citable in the 9th Circuit, so I was wrong in my previous belief that such opinions were not citable in the 9th circuit.

BTW, in my first 9th Circuit lawsuit against the unconstitutional California "smog impact fee," defendant California attached an entire unpublished district-court opinion to the state's first reply brief, and that was definitely in violation of the old circuit rule prohibiting citation of unpublished opinions!



Desperate Darwinists play with words to promote Darwinism

-- from an interview for ScienceNews:
Interviewer: So you urge scientists not to say that they “believe” in evolution?!

Eugenie Scott: Right. What your audience hears is more important than what you say.… What [people] hear is that evolution is a belief, it’s an opinion, it’s not well-substantiated science. And that is something that scientists need to avoid communicating.

You believe in God. You believe your sports team is going to win. But you don’t believe in cell division. You don’t believe in thermodynamics. Instead, you might say you “accept evolution.”

However, "belief" does not necessarily mean blind faith. Should the expression "seeing is believing" be changed to "seeing is accepting"? Should John 20:29 be changed as follows: "Jesus said to him, Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed accepted: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" ?

Darwinists have also played with the word "theory." Darwinists object to the idea of calling evolution a "theory" because the colloquial meaning of "theory" is a "guess" or "hunch." So in the new Florida standards for science education, the Darwinists defined "scientific theories" as being "well-supported" and "widely accepted," but that is ridiculous -- there are strong scientific theories and weak scientific theories. The dumb Darwinists have only added to the confusion about the meaning of "theory," particularly "scientific theory."

Another example of Darwinists playing with words is their oxymoronic term "intelligent design creationism." This term creates confusion because intelligent design and creationism are distinct because the former is based on scientific observation and reasoning whereas the latter is based on religious sources. Darwinists don't even explain why they find it necessary to add the term "creationism" to "intelligent design" if they think that there is no kind of ID that is not creationist.


Quote of the day:
" "If man evolved from monkeys, then why are there still monkeys?’...That’s probably the second most common question I get on talk radio."
-- Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, in interview for ScienceNews

I wonder what the most common question is.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Activist Judge "Jackass" Jones' pseudo-originalism

Judge "Jackass" Jones, poster child for activist judges


There has been a big debate going on over the legitimacy of "originalism" as a means of constitutional interpretation [link] [link] [link -- group of blog articles concerning originalism ], but Judge "Jackass" Jones' "Founders' true religion" interpretation of the establishement clause is not even genuine originalism -- it is pseudo-originalism. If originalists like Robert Bork and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas are often regarded as crackpots, then what can be said of Judge Jones?

Judge Jones said in a commencement speech at Dickinson College,
Ironically, but perhaps fittingly for my purposes today, we see the Founders' ideals quite clearly, among many places, in the Establishment Clause within the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This of course was the clause that I determined the school board had violated in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case. While legal scholars will continue to debate the appropriate application of that clause to particular facts in individual cases, 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.

Judge Jones claimed that he got the above "true religion" idea from his undergraduate days at Dickinson College, but the statement is actually a quote mine plagiarized from a book that was published long after he graduated. [link] Some have claimed that it is not a plagiarism because quote marks and a citation are shown in the Dickinson College website's copy of the speech, but the quote marks were not added for several days and the oral speech itself had no indication of quotation. Furthermore, it is not a merely a quote but is a quote mine because the original statement was selectively quoted in a way that changed the original meaning. [link]

Two of the principal kinds of originalism are "original meaning" (a kind of "textualism") and "intentionalism." Wikipedia says of original meaning,

Original meaning is the dominant form of the legal theory of originalism today. It was made popular by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. It contends that the terms of the United States Constitution should be interpreted as meaning what they meant when they were ratified, which is to say, it asks the question: "What would a reasonable person living at the time of ratification have understood these words to mean?"

"Original meaning" is a kind of textualism, which can be the current meaning of the Constitution or other legal authorities. The problem with original-meaning originalism is that it does not recognize changes in circumstances and societal standards. For example, in regard to changes in societal standards, the Founders had a much different view than we do in regard to how Constitutional protections should be applied to women and racial minorities and what Constitutional protections are needed by women and minorities. In regard to changes in circumstances, the Founders never had to consider how the establishment clause would apply to the teaching of evolution, so original-meaning originalism is of little or no help in illuminating that application of the establishment clause.

"Intentionalist" is defined as follows:

Intentionalist: An originalist who gives primary weight to the intentions of framers, members of proposing bodies, and ratifiers.

Intentionalism is on particularly shaky ground as a method of interpreting the Constitution. Some problems are: (1) There were many Founders and they had different intentions; (2) after a span of more than two centuries, it is difficult to discern the Founders' intentions; and (3) as with original-meaning originalism, it does not recognize changes in circumstances and societal standards.

But for original meaning or intentionalism to be applied at all, there has be to something in the Constitution to be given meaning or intent. For example, intentionalism might illuminate the Founders' reasons for putting "well-regulated militia" in the 2nd amendment's right to keep and bear arms. But the establishment clause only says that "Congress shall make no law . . . respecting an establishment of religion." There is nothing there that has anything to do with "true religion." There is nothing there that can be given meaning or intent in regard to "true religion." "Intentionalism" does not mean that any idea can be just pulled out of the air and be claimed to represent the intent of a particular clause of the Constitution. Even if it can be shown that all or most of the Founders held a particular idea, there is no reason to believe -- and good reason to disbelieve -- that they wanted that idea to be part of the Constitution when they did not put that idea in the Constitution. Judge Jones' "true religion" idea is as bad as the fundies' idea that the USA was established as a "Christian nation."

It might be argued that Judge Jones tacitly repudiated or retracted his "true religion" idea. I have not heard him repeat the idea -- for example, he did not mention the idea in his talk at Case-Western Reserve University last year. However, I don't think that his "true religion" statement can be lightly dismissed as just a gaffe or a faux pas -- the statement must have represented his true beliefs at the time and probably represents his true beliefs now. The statement implies that Jones would go out of his way to attack anything he thinks might be associated with organized religion. The statement showed extreme prejudice against intelligent design and the Dover defendants, regardless of whether or not ID is a religious concept.

Judge Jones says that he is not an "activist judge." Bullshit. He is a poster child for activist judges.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Judge Sotomayor not qualified for Supreme Court

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's decision in an eminent domain case is completely unacceptable. Details are in this article in the Volokh Conspiracy blog. The Senate should reject her nomination.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Darwinists' double standard on Jefferson

The Prayer at Valley Forge by Arnold Friberg

* Sung to the tune of Old-Time Religion


An article in Evolution News & Views says,

When Stephen C. Meyer wrote an op-ed in the Boston Globe on Thomas Jefferson as a proto-ID supporter, outraged science journalist Callaway at the New Scientist [use this link -- the link in EN&V is wrong] couldn’t even mount an argument. He calls linking Jefferson and ID a “ridiculous assertion.” But he doesn’t tell us why it’s ridiculous.

The Darwinists have a hypocritical double standard -- they are allowed to invoke Thomas Jefferson and the other Founders but the critics of Darwinism are not. In his commencement speech at Dickinson College, Judge John E. Jones III had Jefferson in particular in mind (in fact, he praised Jefferson in his speech) when he said that his Kitzmiller v. 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 -- 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.

Intelligent Design is in fact part of Jefferson's "true religion."



Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Darwinists disbelieve public support for "teaching the controversy"



Darwinists are in a state of denial about overwhelming public support for teaching the controversy about evolution. They are making ridiculous claims that the wording of poll questions skewed the results of a recent public opinion poll about teaching the controversy.

A CNSNews.com article says,

A Zogby poll commissioned by the Seattle-based Discovery Institute says more than three-quarters of Americans would like teachers to have the freedom to discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution, with an even higher number reported among Democrats.

According to the report, which was commissioned by the Discovery Institute Center for Science and Culture, respondents were given the two following statements:

Statement A: “Biology teachers should teach only Darwin’s theory of evolution and the scientific evidence that supports it.”

Statement B: “Biology teachers should teach Darwin’s theory of evolution, but also the scientific evidence against it.”

Of those surveyed, 78 percent said Statement B came closest to their own point of view on the issue, representing a 9 percent increase over 2006, the last time the question was asked . . . .

But Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), told CNSNews.com the poll was “meaningless” because the phrasing of the questions skewed the results.

Branch said asking whether or not respondents believe all evidence should be taught puts them in the position of being for or against freedom of information.

Well, that kind of question really puts the respondents on the spot, doesn't it? Tsk, tsk.

Branch also said,
“(I)f you commission someone to do a poll asking whether we should teach the evidence for and the evidence against heliocentrism, they’d say yes, too,” he argued, “even though it’s scientifically established that the Earth goes around the sun, rather than the other way around.

Typical Darwinist straw man.

-- and

“The very terms of the question presuppose that there is credible scientific evidence against evolution, which there isn’t,” he said.

And Branch is presupposing that there is no credible scientific evidence against evolution, and furthermore that none is going to be found in the future.

So maybe Branch thinks that Statement B should have been worded, "If there is credible scientific evidence against evolution, biology teachers should teach Darwin’s theory of evolution, but also the scientific evidence against it.” However, if anything, that wording would probably have increased the number of respondents supporting the statement, because respondents who rejected the original statement solely because they believe that there is no credible scientific evidence against evolution might be inclined to support the revised statement.

Chris Mooney echoed Branch's statements about option B:

Chris Mooney of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry has criticized Zogby polling methodology in the past, agreeing that their wording accounts for the disparity in their poll numbers.

“The answer to the first question is a no-brainer for anyone who believes in open-mindedness, no matter what they think about evolution,” he said. “Sure enough, Zogby-Intelligent Design polls have shown overwhelming support for option B.”

If, as Branch and Mooney imply, Statement B is just an innocuous statement reflecting a desire to be open-minded, then why have the Darwinists been fighting tooth and nail to keep this statement or similar statements (e.g., "strengths and weaknesses") out of standards for public science education? Apparently the Darwinists think that Statement B implies that there actually is credible evidence against evolution, and the Darwinists don't believe that such evidence exists. The Zogby poll could be considered to be a referendum on whether such statements as Statement B should be included in those standards.

Also, as I have pointed out many times, there can be good reasons for teaching invalid criticisms of evolution: broadening students' education, encouraging critical thinking, increasing student interest, preventing and correcting misconceptions, and helping to assure that technically sophisticated criticisms are taught only by qualified science teachers.

The poll is also discussed in here on the Discovery Institute's Evolution News & Views website.



Monday, July 13, 2009

Case-law history of monkey trials


The Discovery Institute's Casey Luskin has written an excellent law-journal article about the case-law history of court cases concerning evolution education. The article is described here and the article itself -- in PDF format -- is here. Casey reviews 21 cases -- some are federal court cases and some are state court cases. Luskin's law-journal article shows that the case-law history of "monkey trials" is far more complex than the oversimplified, ignorant and cocky "you've always lost" and "you lost -- get over it" views of the Darwinists. Luakin shows that the legal position of Darwin critics is much stronger than most people realize -- he shows that the judicial opinions in these cases have many important findings that are in favor of Darwin critics even though the overall decisions were against the Darwin critics. One big fault of the paper is that it fails to show how close Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish and Selman v. Cobb County came to being reversed on appeal. Also, IMO Luskin's paper should have included Comer v. Texas Education Agency, where a federal district-court judge upheld the right of a public education agency to maintain a policy of neutrality regarding evolution-education issues that are subjects of upcoming public hearings. [link].

Attorney Timothy Sandefur wrote a blog post that was highly critical of Luskin's law-journal article, but I think that Sandefur misses the point that the purpose of Luskin's article is not just advocacy but is also to present an objective overview of the case-law history.

Here I will make some additions and corrections to Luskin's law-review article. Unfortunately, URL links to some of my original references no longer work.

The case law on evolution education is getting old. The last Supreme Court decision on evolution education, Edwards v. Aguillard (1987), was over twenty years ago, and the last definitive appeals court decision on evolution education, Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish (2000), was nearly ten years ago (I am not counting Selman v. Cobb County because that decision was a vacation and remand), and the last federal district court decision, Kitzmiller v. Dover (2005), was 3½ years ago. As for precedential value, Supreme Court decisions of course have the most, federal appeals court decisions have a fair amount, and federal district court decisions have little or none. Why are there no current or very recent cases? Two reasons are: (1) curriculum-setting government bodies have learned how to "lawsuit-proof" criticisms of evolution, and (2) fear of the costs of attorney fee awards to the plaintiffs; because of incredibly tight-fisted taxpayers, this is a problem even where the potential financial burden to the government is negligible. An awful lot has changed since these cases were decided and it is high time to revisit them. It's is really a shame that there are no new cases, because new cases would give an opportunity to apply the many things that have been learned from previous cases.

Kitzmiller v. Dover (2005)

This blog has more posts directly and indirectly related to this case than for any other subject, as is evident from the post label list in the homepage's sidebar (post labels with Kitizmiller and Judge Jones). Luskin is of course highly critical of the Kitzmiller decision. I would like to make here some additions and corrections to what Luskin said about the case.

Casey classified Kitzmiller in the category "cases rejecting the teaching of alternatives evolution," but IMO Kitzmiller belongs in his category "cases rejecting disclaimers regarding the teaching of evolution." The Dover school board's Intelligent Design policy was just a one-minute oral statement -- no alternatives to evolution were actually taught, and the book referred to in the statement, "Of Pandas and People," was not required reading.

IMO the Kitzmiller decision is badly tainted because it is likely that Judge "Jackass" Jones showed a lack of restraint because he knew that his decision was not likely to be appealed because of the changeover in the school board membership. If an appeal had been anticipated, I doubt, for example, that Judge Jones would have copied the opinion's ID-as-science section nearly verbatim from the plaintiffs' opening post-trial brief while ignoring the defendants' opening post-trial brief and the plaintiffs' and defendants' answering post-trial briefs. The often-heard claim that the defendants' arguments were so bad that there was no need to address them does not hold water -- if those arguments were really bad, all the more reason to attack them.

Judge "Jackass" Jones has charged that critics of his Dover decision have no respect for "the rule of law" and "judicial independence."[link] Judge Jones dodged the question of whether ID encourages critical thinking, which was a crucial question in determining whether the Dover ID policy satisfies the Lemon test's requirement of a "secular purpose that is not a sham." [link] He called judges' work "workmanlike," trying to give the false impression that any other judge would have written the same opinion that he did [link] [link] . 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:

. . . 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.

Jones said that he got the above "true religion" idea from his undergraduate days at Dickinson College, but the above statement is actually a quote mine that he plagiarized from a book that was published long after he graduated. [link]

Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish (2000)

This little-known case is especially noteworthy because of how close it came to being overturned by an en banc (full court) appeals court and/or the US Supreme Court. [link]

Luskin wrongly stated that six 5th Circuit federal appeals court judges dissented from the vote to deny an en banc rehearing of Freiler -- the number given in the dissenters'opinion (page 2) is seven. It is hard to tell how many of the judges voted against an en banc rehearing -- the 5th Circuit had 17 authorized seats in 2000 but at least one and maybe tow or three of the seats were vacant [link] when the vote was taken. In any event, the vote was very close.

Luskin failed to note that the Supreme Court's three votes in favor of granting certiorari (Scalia, Thomas, and Chief Justice Rehnquist) was just one vote short of the four votes normally required for a grant of certiorari. Luskin also failed to note that Scalia's long opinion (joined by Thomas and Rehnquist) dissenting from the denial of certiorari was unusual -- denials of certiorrari are usually made without comment (the frequency of dissents from denials of certiorari is discussed below). In his dissent, Scalia minced no words -- in addition to Luskin's quotations of Scalia's dissent, Scalia also said,

I would grant certiorari in this case if only to take the opportunity to inter the Lemon test once for all. Even assuming, however, that the Fifth Circuit correctly chose to apply the Lemon test, I believe the manner of its application so erroneous as independently to merit the granting of certiorari, if not summary reversal. (emphasis added)

BTW, it is widely known that Supreme Court's denials of certiorari are normally made without comment, but the frequency of dissents from certiorari is generally not known -- however, I managed to find some statistics on that frequency, though the statistics are old. There are three possible outcomes for dissents from certiorari: (1) the dissenting opinion is first circulating among the justices and if it succeeds in causing a reversal of the denial, the dissent is of course not published; (2) the dissent fails to cause a reversal, and a decision is made to publish the dissent (Scalia's dissent here is an example of this type), and (3) the dissent fails, and a decision is made to withdraw the dissent. Here are the statistics for the period 1971-1981: total number of dissents, 385; dissent fails and is published, 273 (70.9%); dissent fails and is withdrawn, 29 (7.5%); dissent succeeds, 83 (21.6%). [link -- see page 31] That works out to an average of 27.3 published dissents from cert denial per year for the period 1971-1981, or an average of about three per year per justice. However, some of the dissenting opinions may be trivial -- for example, I have seen just a statement from a justice that he is opposed to the death penalty. Dissents from denials of certiorari are discussed in here, for those that are interested.

Selman v. Cobb County(2005/2006)

This blog has a whole post-label group of articles for Selman [link]. Post labels are listed in the sidebar of the homepage.

Casey fails to mention that before vacating and remanding the decision because of missing evidence, the appeals court panel indicated that it was leaning towards reversal even if the missing evidence were found [link] Appeals Judge Ed Carnes said that the three-sentence disclaimer seemed to him to be "literally accurate" and told the attorney representing the opponents of the stickers, "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." [link] Judge Frank Hull questioned how the district-court judge could have found the sticker's language misleading to biology students when there was no evidence to support that view.

Luskin's paper says,

Like Hurst [Hurst v. Newman], this case represents a school district being forced to abandon what it believed was a constitutional policy over threats of an ongoing and expensive lawsuit

Casey is just plain wrong here. The Cobb County school district is big and rich, unlike the El Tejon school district of Hurst and the Dover Area school district of Kitzmiller, which are small and poor. Cobb County was getting free legal representation in its appeal and received offers of more free legal assistance. The Cobb County school district's actual and potential legal expenses were much lower than the ~$1 million paid by the Dover Area school district. [link] Furthermore, before vacating and remanding the decision because of missing evidence, the appeals court panel indicated in an oral hearing that it was leaning towards reversal even if the missing evidence were found. The Cobb County school board simply took a dive.

Attorney Edward Sisson's open letter about the Selman decision is also good. The letter's "political insider/outsider" idea appears to be based on Justice O'Connor's "endorsement test" as originally described in her concurring opinion in Lynch v. Donnelly:

The . . . . 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.

Comer v. Texas Education Agency (2008)

As I said in the introduction to this post, IMO Luskin's paper should have included Comer v. Texas Education Agency, where a federal district-court judge upheld the right of a public education agency to maintain a policy of neutrality regarding evolution-education issues that are subjects of upcoming public hearings. [link]. Apparently the decision was not appealed. Unfortunately, this case does not fit into any of the three categories devised by Luskin: (1) Cases upholding the right to teach evolution; (2) Cases rejecting the teaching of alternatives to evolution; and (3) Cases rejecting disclaimers regarding the teaching of evolution. This blog has a post-label group of articles about Chris Comer (post labels are listed in the sidebar of the homepage).

Justiciability of scientific questions concerning evolution

I am not aware of any judicial opinion that has addressed the issue of the justiciability of scientific questions concerning evolution, but I nonetheless consider this to be a very important issue. IMO the courts should declare these questions to be non-justiciable -- many of these questions are 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.” Vieth v. Jubelirer, 541 U.S. 267, 277-78 (2004). Also, appellate courts are unsuited for reviewing days or weeks of scientific testimony -- appellate courts are mainly suited for deciding questions about points of law. This blog has several articles about justiciability.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Self-styled "experts"

It is often charged that I am unqualified to discuss various subjects -- e.g., coevolution and the law -- because I have no special training in those subjects and have not had papers in those subjects published in peer-reviewed journals. Yet the same people making these charges don't have any special qualifications either, yet they claim that they are refuting my ideas. They are a bunch of conceited ignoramuses.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

Darwin-to-Hitler again

"A 'systematic' Jewish holocaust is impossible, so how could Darwin be blamed for it?"

Considering that Darwin is often blamed for Hitler, I am surprised that Darwinists are not among the world's biggest Holocaust deniers.


"Nazism cannot uncouple itself from its eugenicist, and thus Darwinist, antecedents."

The conclusion section of the Kitzmiller v. Dover opinion said, "ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents."


"Evolution is the fundamental concept underlying all of Nazism."

The new Florida state science standards say, "evolution is the fundamental concept underlying all of biology."


"What? I don't 'need' Darwin? O, reason not the need !"

"O, reason not the need !" is from Shakespeare's play "King Lear." Abe Foxman, chairman of the Anti-Defamation League, said that Hitler did not "need" Darwin to carry out the Holocaust.


"You will think the way I think -- and you will like it."

Judge "Jackass" Jones was shown wearing Hitler's outfit. Judge Jones has charged that critics of his Kitzmiller v. Dover decision lack respect for "the rule of law" and "judicial independence."


"Ich bin ein Darwiner. JFK, essen Sie ihrem Herz aus."


"ADL chairman Abe Foxman ist ein dummkopf"

Abe Foxman said that Hitler did not "need" Darwin to carry out the Holocaust


Richard Weikart, author of "Darwin to Hitler," has written a new book titled, "Hitler's Ethic: The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress". Amazon.com's product/book description says,

In this book, Weikart helps unlock the mystery of Hitler’s evil by vividly demonstrating the surprising conclusion that Hitler’s immorality flowed from a coherent ethic. Hitler was inspired by evolutionary ethics to pursue the utopian project of biologically improving the human race. This ethic underlay or influenced almost every major feature of Nazi policy: eugenics (i.e., measures to improve human heredity, including compulsory sterilization), euthanasia, racism, population expansion, offensive warfare, and racial extermination.

As I have pointed out many times, Nazi anti-Semitism targeted fit Jews -- both the mentally fit and the physically fit -- as well as unfit Jews and was therefore not a eugenics program. In fact, one of the first things that the Nazis did after coming to power was to fire highly mentally fit Jews -- professionals and managers -- from the civil service. Eugenics' contribution to the Jewish holocaust -- which BTW was exaggerated IMO -- was to establish the idea that it was morally OK to get rid of undesirables.

To my knowledge, those who claim that Darwin had no influence on Hitler have not produced a single book supporting their claims -- but there are several books supporting the claim that Darwin had a strong influence on Hitler.

The new book is discussed on Uncommon Descent.



Monday, July 06, 2009

Types of mutations in coevolution

There are the following basic types of mutations in coevolution:

(1) A mutation in just one species produces a benefit for that species and maybe also for other species -- there is no need for a corresponding mutation in another species (and in parasitism and predation a corresponding mutation in other species might actually counteract the first mutation's benefit). This type of mutation is common in parasite/host and predator/prey relationships. Because a benefit is produced, such a mutation is likely to spread rapidly, and such a rapid spread will increase the chances that this mutation will meet a corresponding mutation in another kind of organism. Sometimes this single mutation may never meet a corresponding mutation in another kind of organism -- that situation is sometimes not considered to be coevolution because the prefix "co" means "mutual," "together," or "reciprocal," implying that there are corresponding adaptations in other kinds of organisms. However, if the prefix "co" is interpreted as meaning "together" with other living things, then even a one-sided adaptation to other living things can be considered to be coevolution. Whether or not a mutation is coevolutionary should not depend on whether or not there is ever a corresponding mutation in another type of organism, hence IMO all mutations that are adaptations to other organisms should be considered to be coevolutionary. A one-sided adaptation could be difficult if the adaptation is very specific and complex, e.g., some kinds of parasitisms and orchids' mimicry of female wasps' sex pheromones. I propose calling these one-sided adaptations "unilateral" coevolutionary adaptations or mutations.
(2) Corresponding mutations are required in both kinds of organisms to produce a benefit. Isolated mutations of this type (i.e., mutations not accompanied by the corresponding mutation in the other organism at the same time and place) will not tend to spread rapidly because there is no benefit and hence will have a low tendency to meet a needed corresponding mutation, and this is obviously a big problem for coevolution. This type of mutation can be further subdivided into mutations that are neutral when isolated and mutations that are fatal or harmful when isolated -- the latter type of mutation is obviously even less likely to survive and spread. This need for corresponding mutations can exist even where coevolution can be gradual. An additional problem with this kind of mutation is that the two kinds of organisms might only be able to interact in large numbers, requiring large numbers of both kinds of organisms to suddenly appear at the same time and place. I propose calling these two-sided adaptations "bilateral" coevolutionary adaptations or mutations.



Saturday, July 04, 2009

Public opinion polls on science and religion

Cartoon from Answers-in-Genesis website


A Pew Research Center report says,

When asked what they would do if scientists were to disprove a particular religious belief, nearly two-thirds (64%) of people say they would continue to hold to what their religion teaches rather than accept the contrary scientific finding, according to the results of an October 2006 Time magazine poll. Indeed, in a May 2007 Gallup poll, only 14% of those who say they do not believe in evolution cite lack of evidence as the main reason underpinning their views; more people cite their belief in Jesus (19%), God (16%) or religion generally (16%) as their reason for rejecting Darwin's theory.

The above poll results do not take into account the importance of the strength of the scientific evidence that contradicts religion. IMO the stronger the scientific evidence, the greater the tendency of people to accept science over religion. For example, geocentrism [link], like creationism, is supported by the bible (also, re: the conflict with Galileo, geocentrism was once an official doctrine of the Catholic church), but practically all fundies accept heliocentrism because heliocentrism is based on direct observations and is plausible. In contrast, evolution -- the macroevolutionary kind -- is not based on direct observations and is not plausible. Also, more people accept an old earth than accept evolution because an old earth is plausible, even if not based on direct observation. So I was a bit surprised by the above poll data because I thought that the main reason for people's non-acceptance of evolution was a belief that evolution is not plausible on scientific grounds, not that evolution conflicts with their religious beliefs. However, the above poll results only give the "main" reason for non-acceptance of evolution, whereas some respondents may have had two or more reasons, e.g., both science and religion, so perhaps more than just 14% of those who did not accept evolution believed that scientific evidence was lacking. As for myself, a belief that the scientific evidence is inadequate is my sole reason for my non-acceptance of evolution -- religion has nothing to do with it at all. And I am more influenced by my ideas about coevolution than by Intelligent Design or irreducible complexity.

We can forget about the flat-earth idea, a favorite straw man of ignorant Darwinists. The flat-earth idea has little or no support in the bible and an expert historian said, "It must first be reiterated that with extraordinary few exceptions no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the third century B.C. onward believed that the earth was flat . . ." (emphasis in original) [link] [link]

BTW, the reason for the overlap in the above responses to the May 2007 Gallup poll (16% religion generally, 16% a belief in God, and 19% a belief in Jesus) is that the question was open-ended, i.e., the respondents answered in their own words rather than chose from a list of fixed answers. A complete report of this poll is here.

Also, these poll results are discussed on the blogs of Chris Mooney and Jerry Coyne.


Friday, July 03, 2009

Darwinist troll gossips about my religion

In a comment on The Intersection blog, "Mel" told me,

"apparently when you decided you weren’t Jewish any more you also decided to get rid of the Jewish tradition of learning"

The jerk is an anti-Semitic scumbag who thinks he has "outed" me as a former Jew. The dunghill thinks he is like the "informers" that the Nazis supposedly relied upon to identify Jews. The two biggest hoaxes in history: Darwinism and the "systematic" Jewish holocaust.

Gossiping about people's religious affiliations or beliefs is beyond the pale and I have asked The Intersection's bloggers to delete the comment immediately.


Thursday, July 02, 2009

"Incoherent ramblings that are decades out of date"

Believe it or not, that was a Darwinist trolls' description of my ideas about coevolution: "incoherent ramblings that are decades out of date." :Incoherent ramblings" are never up-to-date, so how in the hell can they ever be out of date? That stupid comment shows the desperation of those who scoff at my ideas about coevolution. My difficulty in getting publicity and recognition for my ideas about coevolution shows the closed-mindedness of the Darwinist establishment. If the Darwinist establishment were open-minded, any idea that even had the potential to be a weakness of evolution theory would be bombarded with responses. Even if such an idea is eventually refuted, it has the potential to greatly enhance our understanding of evolution theory.

Darwinist troll and cyberbully Kevin Vicklund weighed in on the same comment thread [link] [link]. He made some really silly assertions.



Wednesday, July 01, 2009

ADL regional director says, "freedom of speech does not extend to racist groups"

The Volokh Conspiracy blog has the story here.

Particularly troubling is the fact that the ADL considers all holocaust denial and revisionism to be hate speech. For example, my own position is that a "systematic" Jewish holocaust was impossible because the Nazis had no reliable and objective ways of identifying Jews and non-Jews. To the ADL, that's hate speech.

What happens is that once extremists get control of an organization like the ADL, they tend to keep and increase control because moderates who don't want to support an extremist organization leave. I have also seen this happen to the Wikipedia organization.