Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Scopes-In-Reverse Dynamic

A Congressional report has confirmed what was evident to those who followed the story: Dr. Richard Sternberg was mistreated by intolerant, dogmatic Darwinian fundamentalists, because of his skepticism toward Darwinian theory.

My previous post on this affair can be found here. In it, I discuss this classic quote from Eugenie Scott, "[I]f it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it argues for zealotry." Note the unintended double meaning in the "it argues for zealotry" part. The only examples of zealotry in this episode were the officials at the Smithsonian and their efforts to enforce Darwinian purity. Apparently, zeal for the House of Darwin consumed them.

This story demonstrates what the mainstream media have largely missed: The Scopes mythology is no longer a relevant paradigm in our current culture. No teachers are being prosecuted for teaching evolution. What we are seeing is a Scopes-in-reverse dynamic: those who are skeptical of Darwinian theory are being treated like the Scopes character in the mythological play and movie, Inherit the Wind. For another example, consider another previous post: The Fear On Her Face Was Palpable.

No wonder the demographics on this issue are what they are.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Weekend Humor #12

This is priceless:
In 2006 Judge Jones was the recipient of the first John Marshall Judicial Independence Award, which will be presented annually by the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Why School Boards and Teachers Should Make Decisions Based On Edwards v. Aguillard, and Ignore Kitzmiller

For this post, I thought of using the title "How to Copy and Paste Your Way to Fame and Glory," but decided that that missed the more important point.

A delightful article is now available entitled: A Comparison of Judge Jones’ Opinion in Kitzmiller v. Dover with Plaintiffs’ Proposed “Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law” by John G. West and David K. DeWolf. This article notes:
90.9% (or 5,458 words) of Judge Jones’ 6,004-word section on intelligent design as science was taken verbatim or virtually verbatim from the proposed “Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law” submitted to Judge Jones by ACLU attorneys nearly a month before his ruling.

The judge even incorporated clear factual errors from the plaintiffs' proposed Findings. Keep in mind that the first drafts of his opinion were almost certainly drafted by his law clerks. This and other comments Judge Jones has made since the trial indicate that he may not have really understood the issues involved at trial.

A previous post of mine discussed other things that he clearly did not understand and his use of stereotyping and misrepresentation. Without knowing about the heavy borrowing from the Plaintiffs' documents, I noted:
Jones' opinion, however, reads like a narrow-minded work of advocacy, not an expression of thoughtful judgment reflecting an understanding of all the parties. One prominent Darwin Only blogger noted that the opinion could not have been better if he had written it himself. Hmmmm.

This is just one more reason that school boards should not follow the decision of one solitary district court judge in rural Pennsylvania. The fact remains that the controlling law in the area of teaching about evolution in the public schools is the Supreme Court case Edwards v. Agulllard. The court held that teaching "creation science," as formulated in that case, is unconstitutional. However, it also noted the following:
We do not imply that a legislature could never require that scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories be taught. . . . In a similar way, teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind to schoolchildren might be validly done with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction. (citations omitted)

It follows also that individual teachers can clearly teach the scientific problems with macroevolutionary theory.