Evolution law blog

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I ran across this cool blog, Law, Evolution, and Junk Science. I thought the FAQ put it very well:

Intelligent Design is a paradigm of junk science and abuse of the legal system, both in court, at the local school board level...and at state and federal [legislative] and executive branches of government. Furthermore, Intelligent Design, and its Scientific Creationism parent, have both been spearheaded by lawyers, from William Jennings Bryan in the 1920s, through Wendell Bird in the 1970s , to Phillip E. Johnson, today. To rebut the spurious claims of these fellow members of the bar, a very large number of scientists have had to take time from productive research to deal with the issue. I feel the obligation to undo the damage these lawyers have done.

Hear, hear!

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So strange that, with the Dover school district "Intelligent Design" statement being read today, the news on the Internet is, well...quiet. Perhaps this is because after all this build-up, the actual deed itself — the reading of this mockery of... Read More

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That is a cool blog. It’s encouraging to see another well-written blog pop up that tells it like it is. Great work, Joe!

Wasn’t there another creationist lawyer that wrote a book in the early 1970’s, sort a proto-Phillip Johnson?

Wasn’t there another creationist lawyer that wrote a book in the early 1970’s, sort of a proto-Phillip Johnson?

Norman McBeth, author of the 1971 book Darwin Retried is probably who Nick is thinking of.

– Anti-spam: Replace “user” with “harlequin2”

There’s a nice take on the Georgia stickers in the latest issue of The Onion.

And add to this that the ID is misleading and dishonest for hiding its religious motivations. This seems to be a common observation among my Christian friends and colleagues.

Not a pretty prospect.

I remember listening to an interview with Gould on NPR back in the middle 80’s. He was making essentially the same arguments back then, as well as complaining about valuable time being taken away from a more productive use of his time. A necessary price we have to pay since ignorance and bigotry are forever busy.

McFaul has just added a very interesting piece on how he believes Judge Cooper intentionally “bulletproofed” his ruling, so that it can’t be overturned in appeal:

http://brightline.typepad.com/law_e[…]thought.html

LOL!

http://www.scrappleface.com/MT/arch[…]/002026.html

New Science Book Stickers Evolve After Court Ruling by Scott Ott

(2005-01-14) – Scientists credit the Darwinian mechanism of “descent with modification” for the mysterious appearance today of new labels in science textbooks in Cobb County, Georgia.

School officials discovered the new stickers as they prepared to comply with a federal judge’s order to remove primitive stickers which called evolution a “theory” rather than a “fact” and encouraged students to study it with an “open mind.”

U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper ruled that the old labels could “confuse” public school students, who are not accustomed to thinking critically.

In addition, since the 2,000 parents who initially requested the stickers were “religiously motivated,” even though the stickers carry no hint of religion, they’re tantamount to a government endorsement of fundamentalist Christianity.

“As with other hate crimes, it’s the thought that counts,” Judge Cooper wrote.

The lawsuit was filed by six parents and the American Civil Liberties Union after hundreds of atheist and agnostic children read the stickers, became confused and nearly converted to Christianity.

“The district brought in extra psychologists to deal with the crisis, but the damage had already been done,” said a spokesman for the ACLU. “The faith that these innocent children once had in a beautiful world created spontaneously by fortunate accidents has been shattered by the brutal, bigoted language of the stickers. The establishment clause of the First Amendment specifically prohibits this kind of government meddling in the free exercise of their faith.”

The newly-evolved stickers read as follows: “This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a fact, not a theory, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with childlike trust, accepted obediently and defended vigorously against the attacks of ignorant monotheists.”

“There must have been some sort of favorable random mutation in the soy-based ink,” said one unnamed science teacher in explaining the almost-miraculous appearance of the new stickers. “We believe the new version is more fit to survive the natural judicial selection process, if not the legislative process.”

WedgieWorld says “add to this that the ID is misleading and dishonest for hiding its religious motivations.” Indeed. Blasphemous, even. To disguise one’s religious motivations in this way sure seems like denying the Lord, of not taking His name in vain.

And reading Posts from your friends on that site DaveScot it appears that they know even less about science then you.

something on the order of 10 times 10 to the 42nd power

simple mind can’t even figure out that it would be easier to say 10^43. Does he take lessons from you on how to make stupid statements that creationist will take as grand insight?

Are you still under the delusion that GA haven’t been used to create any useful programs DaveScot? We’ll have to start spreading the news so these programs can stop being used because you don’t believe in them.

Reality = DaveScot’s knowledge

Oh thats a scary equation isn’t it.

Looks like a cool blog! However, the term “junk science” has been approrpiated far too often by ideologues who are, in fact, practicing the very thing they accuse others of. For example, the website junkscience.com used to maintain an anti-evolution article by Phillip Johnson (though I can’t find it now, the old link can be found here. So “junk science” has become kind of a code word which skeptical people should read as, “science the author doesn’t agree with, which may or may not be sound.”

I would have chosen a different term.

Nick: That proto-Johnson anti-evolution lawyer was Wendell Bird (or at least that’s the one I know of). His catchphrase was “abrupt appearance”

Mark S: My favorite quote from that Onion page:

“If you don’t believe in creationism, then how do you explain the fact that I do, smart guy?”

Wayne, you don’t seem to know the difference between a computer program and output from a computer program. See if you can find a genetic algorithm to teach you the difference between truffles and pigs that hunt for truffles.

Exactly. FoxNews never had a Science section–read into that what you will–but they did have a Junk Science section, where they would attack Global Warming, etc.

On the other hand, there are many people who insist on valid science like evolution, but who embrace various politically charged pseudoscientific claims. There is a great deal of junk science out there that leftists rather cherish.

There is a great deal of junk science out there that leftists rather cherish.

Both sides of the political spectrum do that. Those who have coined and promoted the term “junk science” are some of the biggest culprits on the right-hand side.

I’m not blaming any one group for being worse than the other, I’m just saying that the term “junk science” is frequently used by those who attack perfectly good science in order to support their ideology. (Which is not to say that they don’t sometimes have legitimate critcisms of bad science, but on the balance, they have a poor track record. The positions they defend are based on their political views rather than what the science says.)

I certainly don’t think McFaul is one of those people. But the term he chose may set off alarms, which is why I wouldn’t have chosen it.

Douglas Theobald Wrote:

McFaul has just added a very interesting piece on how he believes Judge Cooper intentionally “bulletproofed” his ruling, so that it can’t be overturned in appeal:

http://brightline.typepad.com/law_e[…]nce_and/2005

I saw that. If he is right that the bullet-proofing was done, and done well, then it may be a good thing that the school board decided to appeal. Taking this to the Court of Appeals would set a stronger precedent.

Steve Reuland

Those who have coined and promoted the term “junk science” are some of the biggest culprits on the right-hand side.

Really? I mean, I’ve no doubt they promote it (both sides do, as has been noted). But did conservatives coin the term?

When I think “junk science” I think mainly of creationism, followed by various psychic phenomena (e.g., aura reading), telekinesis, healing crystals and magnets (used by gullible conservatives and liberals), and most homeopathic claims (again, used by gullible conservatives and liberals).

I’m sure there is some weak science relating to the causes of global warming but only complete morons think that average temperatures aren’t rising and pollution has nothing do with it.

Using a tag phrase like “junk science” to characterize somebody’s beliefs isn’t an argument. It’s just the old rhetorical technique of “tarring with the same brush.”

I’m sure that plenty of leftists (and rightists and centrists) harbor some pretty dumb ideas about nature and other things, but in every case you have to examine the ideas on their own merits to make a reasonable guess as to their validity. Conservatives on this site, for example, like to associate non-biological ideas and policies they dislike with creationism because that sort of name calling obviates the need for an examination of those ideas—it’s a form of name calling analogous to the way they use the cant phrase “nanny state” to end an argument with a triumphant flourish. (Obviously the right doesn’t own the copyright on these techniques, but in the last couple of months at least, they seem to be the ones who use ‘em most often on this site to promote various notions that have nothing to do with evolution.)

There is a great deal of junk science out there that leftists rather cherish.

Yes there is, and I find it more often than I do from the right. EMF from high power lines would be one example I can think of, but there are many others.

I’m just saying that the term “junk science” is frequently used by those who attack perfectly good science in order to support their ideology.

I agree too, and I thought about whether or not to use the term. I decided to go ahead for two reasons: The term is used in court opinions a lot, so it can be quickly searched as a string for relatively complete results. Second, the term is used more often in search engines as shorthand for the concept and I found I got increased hits wehn I used the term.

Thanks for the “plug” and the helpful suggestions and corrections!

New warning sticker:

“This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a fairy tale regarding the origin of living things. You know it, I know it, we all know it, but to teach the alternative would be a violation of church and state. So, shhhhhh, be very quiet and don’t rock the boat. Simply glide along with everybody else and get that ‘A’ in biology.”

This sticker writing stuff looks like fun.

“This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a branch of scientific inquiry with more published research results than you would be able to read and understand in one lifetime. The material you get here is a brief introduction, and we only allow a couple of weeks for your teacher to cover it, if your teacher gets to it at all. The odds are pretty good that your teacher is an antievolutionist, or is otherwise unfamiliar with the concepts, so do not be surprised if you are somewhat shortchanged for instruction in this topic. Be aware that if you do go looking for popular treatments of evolution that the amount of angry nonsense written about it is large, just as Professor Huxley said over a century ago.”

It is fun, but there’s a serious point to be made about it: if the state mandate a disclaimer on biology textbooks to appease a religious minority, then it can with equal validity mandate a disclaimer on the Bible, or any other religious book, to appease another religious minority. If it can say “evolution is a theory,” it can also say “the Bible is a theory,” and you can imagine the ruckus that would be made if the state did so. The first argument from the religious right would be that such a sticker violates the First Amendment–and they would be absolutely right about that.

Following up on that thought, Mr. Sandefur, if this biology-specific stickering is found Constitutional, then it would seem inevitable for a group of parents in a reality-based community to seek stickers in the front of any Bibles in the library or in front of any English literature book that references “God” in an uncritical manner.

Of course, all the public comments made by such teachers (at board meetings, etc) should be clear that the stickers would be used to encourage children to think critically, and not merely to protest the finding that children need to be protected from scientific facts that don’t fully accord with their parents religious mythos.

Norman McBeth, author of the 1971 book Darwin Retried is probably who Nick is thinking of.

Thanks Mike, that’s what I was thinking of.

Turns out some pages are online at Amazon.com. Published by Harvard University Press! The ID movement has yet to accomplish that. Looks like McBeth was not a creationist, or at least didn’t advocate creationism in the book.

Google hits

Google Scholar hits

GWW Wrote:

Really?  I mean, I’ve no doubt they promote it (both sides do, as has been noted).  But did conservatives coin the term?

I don’t know if they coined the term – it was a bit loose of me to say that. But they’ve certainly adopted the term as their own and made judicious use of it. See some of Chris Mooney’s writings and links therein.

Joe McFaul Wrote:

I agree too, and I thought about whether or not to use the term. I decided to go ahead for two reasons:  The term is used in court opinions a lot, so it can be quickly searched as a string for relatively complete results.  Second, the term is used more often in search engines as shorthand for the concept and I found I got increased hits wehn I used the term.

Sounds good to me. Welcome, and thanks for the hard work you put into your blog. Someone (ahem, Reed) should be adding it to our blogroll soon.

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I don’t think conservatives coined the term “junk science,” and in fact I think they’ve corrupted it in the last half-decade or so. There were a couple of books out lamenting the difficult row to hoe corporations have in defending themselves against tort suits, and they tended to lump all evidence of wrongdoing into a “junk science” bin.

For example, the McDonald’s hot coffee case out of Albuquerque, I’ve had cited to me several times as evidence of how scientists are out of control. Of course, all the science in that case involved the measuring of the temperature of the coffee, which established beyond the shadow of a doubt that the coffee served was a dangerous product worthy of strict liability (third-degree burns within 10 seconds is pretty damn hot!). The complaints against science ignored the facts of the case, that McDonald’s had missed an opportunity to settle for a minute sum, then insulted and browbeat both the then-83-year-old plaintiff and the jury, and that McDonald’s resisted opportunities to settle for reasonable sums while they were paying full costs on hundreds of other similar suits.

Junk science, in other words, had nothing to do with the stupendously bad decisions the corporation made in that litigation.

But in a world that values corporate profits over sweet little old ladies – that is, the world of hackneyed knee-jerk conservatives and creationists – a convenient epithet like “junk science” is a useful tool.

This list of “junk science” abusers seems pretty accurate (and nonpartisan) to me…

http://www.junkscience.com/define.htm

This site will never have the kind of impact that sites like www.arn.org have. Why? Because of the way you guys react to people who disagree with you, such as DaveScot. I found many of his comments well thought out and undeserving of the bile he gets in response. Most of you Darwin advocates are so hypersensitive to critisism, revealing much insecurity in your beliefs.

Matter writes

“I found many of [DaveScot’s] comments well thought out and undeserving of the bile he gets in response.”

What about his comment that Austin public school teachers aren’t allowed to say Merry Christmas? Was that “well thought out”?

Please educate yourself before you defend toxic trolls.

Mind you, that was just one of many facially bogus and self-serving statements that David Springer made during the course of his little trolling adventure.

Btw, matter, please say hi to “Doctor” Howard Glicksman for me next time you kiss his ignorant apologist behind at the pseudoscience-promoting “access research center.”

Mike S. Wrote:

This list of “junk science” abusers seems pretty accurate (and nonpartisan) to me …

http://www.junkscience.com/define.htm

Since it covers just about everybody under the sun (“individuals” is listed as a junk science abuser) then there’s really no way for the list to be inaccurate. The real question is whether or not the specific accusations of “junk science”, concerning specific issues, are accurate. Milloy has a rather poor track record.

Consider some of the utter nonsense he writes about human evolution:

Explanations of human evolution are not likely to move beyond the stage of hypothesis or conjecture. There is no scientific way - i.e., no experiment or other means of reliable study - for explaining how humans developed. Without a valid scientific method for proving a hypothesis, no indisputable explanation can exist.

The process of evolution can be scientifically demonstrated in some lower life forms, but this is a far cry from explaining how humans developed.

According to Milloy, the entire science of paleoanthropology doesn’t exist. This sort of nonsense demonstrates an incredibly poor grasp of what science even is.

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This page contains a single entry by Timothy Sandefur published on January 18, 2005 7:07 PM.

Cobb Will Appeal was the previous entry in this blog.

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