Nuisance libel lawsuit against Eugenie Scott

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A parent and ID creationist in Roseville, California, has filed a libel lawsuit against National Center for Science Education Director Dr. Eugenie Scott on the basis of statements made in her recent article in California Wild magazine. The parent, Larry Caldwell, claims that Dr. Scott has impugned his character and should pay for it. But in fact, the lawsuit is a frivolous waste of the court's time and a character study in the mind of the modern ID creationist activist.

Caldwell, you may recall, filed a lawsuit against the Roseville School Board in January, 2005, complaining that the board's Textbook Screening Committee had adopted a biology textbook incorporating evolutionary science without 'mak[ing] a resonably satsifactory analysis that the Holt Biology Textbook's presentation of evolutionary [sic] was ‘accurate.'' What he meant, in fact, was that the Committee rejected his proposal to include various pieces of creationist detritus in the curriculum.

Dr. Scott's article discusses this case, and includes the following allegedly defamatory statements:

In June 2003, the Roseville district was choosing a textbook for high school biology courses. One local citizen, Larry Caldwell, protested that the book favored by teachers took a 'one-sided' approach to teaching evolution. Like all commercial textbooks, the Holt, Rinehart, and Winston textbook includes evolution but no creationist or antievolution content. Caldwell said that the textbook did not invite students to 'think critically' about the subject of evolution and offered a stack of supplemental books and videotapes that would redress the book's deficiencies. These were an odd mixture of ID and creation science: DVDs promoted by the Discovery Institute; a young-earth creationist book, Refuting Evolution by Jonathan Safarti; and the Jehovah's Witness book Life: How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or Creation? Thanks to its free distribution, this book is probably the most widely-circulated creation science book in the country. District teachers strongly opposed all these materials.

Mr. Caldwell, in announcing his libel suit, says 'I never submitted such books to the school district.... In fact I had never even heard of either of these books until I read Scott's article.' (Come to think of it, that is a pretty remarkable claim. He's never seen Life: How Did It Get Here?) Also, Dr. Scott wrote,

At the next meeting, [the creationists on the school board] declared that the creationist materials would be ‘recommended' but not required, and that each school could decide whether or not to use them. This was to provide an opportunity for creationist parents to lobby teachers and administrators. The board also organized an ‘information session' for teachers on the supplementary materials led by Caldwell and ID supporter Cornelius Hunter, a local engineer and author of several religiously-oriented antievolution books.

To all of these shocking charges, Mr. Caldwell replies

[Scott claimed] that I purportedly subscribe to a number of creation science beliefs discussed in the article—none of which I in fact agree with; and that I purportedly advocate a number of creationist activities in public schools that are enumerated in the article—including the banning of evolution from science classes, and the use of the Bible in science classes.

Now, for a little libel law.

Libel in California is a 'false and unprivileged publication by writing...or other fixed representation to the eye, which exposes any person to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy, or which causes him to be shunned or avoided, or which has a tendency to injure him in his occupation.' (Cal. Civ. Code § 45). Not every bad statement about a person—and not even every untrue statement about a person—is libel. Except in cases of statements that are so bad that they can be presumed to always cause a person's reputation to suffer—which wouldn't seem to be the case here—a plaintiff is required to show some sort of special damage to him caused by the publication: Caldwell needs to prove that Dr. Scott's haunting suggestion that he 'offered a stack of supplemental books and videotapes' including 'a young-earth creationist book,' somehow caused him harm that is 'more or less peculiar to the particular plaintiff in that the plaintiff actually suffered the loss in the specific amount.' O'Hara v. Storer Communications, Inc., 231 Cal.App.3d 1101, 1113 (1991). Hard to see how a man who has become a notorious community activist for ID creationism can have been harmed by Scott's statements even if they are untrue. (I don't know if they're true or not.)

But more importantly, Caldwell's protection by the libel laws is significantly lessened by the fact that he has 'voluntarily inject[ed] himself...into a particular public controversy and thereby [has] become[ ] a public figure for a limited range of issues.' Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 U.S. 323, 351 (1974). When a person does this, the First Amendment restricts his ability to bring libel suits against people who criticize him. As one court recently put it, under California law

[l]imited purpose public figures lose some protection regarding their reputation to the extent that the allegedly defamatory communication relates to [their] role in a public controversy. To qualify as a limited purpose public figure, a plaintiff must have undertaken some voluntary [affirmative] act[ion] through which he seeks to influence the resolution of the public issues involved.

Thomas v. Los Angeles Times Communications, LLC, 189 F.Supp.2d 1005, 1011 (C.D. Cal. 2002) aff'd 45 Fed.Appx. 801, cert. denied 537 U.S. 1172 (2003) (citations and quotation marks omitted). People like this, the courts have said, 'are less deserving of protection than private persons because public figures...have voluntarily exposed themselves to increased risk of injury from defamatory falsehood concerning them.' Id. at 1011 (citations and quotation marks omitted)

Caldwell has certainly undertaken voluntary action to influence the resolution of a public issue. And under First Amendment precedents, once you're a public figure, you can sue for libel only when you can show 'actual malice,' meaning that 'an allegedly defamatory statement was made with knowledge of its falsity or in reckless disregard of its truth or falsity.' Id. (citing Gertz, supra; New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 296 (1964)).

That seems very unlikely in this case. Indeed, if Scott's statements are inaccurate, they are probably simple mistakes.

The same, however, cannot be said of Caldwell's own misrepresentations. For example, Caldwell states that Scott's article accuses him of 'advocat[ing] a number of creationist activities in public schools that are enumerated in the article—including the banning of evolution from science classes, and the use of the Bible in science classes.' But examine Dr. Scott's article: nowhere does she 'enumerate' any such thing. She refers to the Bible once or twice, never accusing anyone of wanting to teach it in science class, and she never comes close to saying that Caldwell seeks to ban the teaching of evolution. On the contrary, she says '[t]he history of creationism has followed a pattern. First, creationists attempted to ban evolution, then to teach creation science, next to teach ID, and now, most commonly, they lobby to teach EAE. The creationism/evolution controversy that occurred in the northern California community of Roseville during 2004 is a microcosm of this history.' In other words, she (accurately) accuses Caldwell of seeking to teach the blatantly false doctrines of ID, not to ban science teaching in the classroom. Now, when you're accusing someone of misrepresenting you, it rather takes the wind out of your sails to misrepresent that person in your own complaint! Caldwell calls Scott a 'liar' in this article; but it's Caldwell who is either sloppy, a liar, or both. (Yes, I am allowed to say that.)

There's an amusing endnote to all of this. The self-righteous conclusion of the press release says

'I wonder if Ms. Scott has found it so difficult to locate someone who actually fits her preconceived stereotype of a Bible-thumper trying to ban evolution that she must now resort to reinventing someone to fit her stereotype,' said Caldwell.

According to Caldwell, Scott's article is typical of how the Darwinists ‘debate' this issue: 'They tell lies about our side and try to discredit and marginalize everyone on our side by stereotyping people as ‘religious nut cases' who are trying to inject Genesis into science classes, or trying to ban evolution from science classes. Neither of which is true.'

As co-blogger Steve Reuland pointed out, though, the first quote, attributed to Caldwell, appears almost word for word in a blog post written a few days ago by John West, in which the words are attributed to West: 'Has Scott found it so difficult to locate someone who actually fits her preconceived stereotype of a Bible-thumper trying to ban evolution that she must now resort to reinventing someone to fit her stereotype? It will be interesting to see whether Scott and the California Academy of Sciences have the decency to correct the record.' How, precisely, did the quote mutate from a blog post into the words of another man in a later-issued press release?

This, and the whole affair, is really typical of ID creationists: they take what may simply be a minor error of fact, ascribe the nastiest possible motives to it while ignoring any mitigating factors, accuse the other side of lying, pull quotations from their original sources, blatantly lie about the most basic facts of the issue, fly to the courts with the most perverse legal theories, and finally paint themselves as martyred victims of the Great Darwinian Steamroller.

(The case is SCV 17921, Placer County Superior Court.)

3 TrackBacks

Frivolous Intelligent Design lawsuits from Law Evolution Science and Junk Science on April 29, 2005 9:36 PM

The Panda’s Thumb links to some legal activities undertaken by alleged Intelligent Design creationists, here and here. In one matter, a California attorney who had earlier field a federal action against the school district sued Eugenie Scott of the N... Read More

Frivolous Intelligent Design lawsuits from Law Evolution Science and Junk Science on May 23, 2005 1:33 PM

The Panda’s Thumb links to some legal activities undertaken by alleged Intelligent Design creationists, here and here. In one matter, a California attorney who had earlier field a federal action against the school district sued Eugenie Scott of the N... Read More

Caldwell and Scott from Dispatches from the Culture Wars on September 10, 2005 11:17 AM

I haven't written much on the little brouhaha between Genie Scott of the NCSE and Larry Caldwell, a creationist parent in California who, it seems, threatens to sue everyone. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he threatens to sue... Read More

85 Comments

Hilarious. Caldwell is so full of himself he’s liable to explode like one of those toads.

From a letter posted on the ID(iot)EA Center website

http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmg[…].php/id/1209

I am an attorney, who has been practicing in California for nearly 25 years. I received my Juris Doctorate from The George Washington University Law School, in Washington, D.C., where I studied constitutional law under some of the leading experts on First Amendment law in the country. In recent years, I have spent a fair amount of time researching the constitutional issues regarding the teaching of origins science in public schools.

The truth is that not a single reported court case in the country has held that it is unconstitutional or otherwise illegal to teach ID in public schools.

Of course, no one except Caldwell and his fellow peddlers really know what teaching “ID” is. In any event, the Dover case will straighten out some of the “confusion.”

To the contrary, prominent constitutional scholars such as Francis J. Beckwith

Is that the same Beckwith who blew a bunch of smoke around here last week and had his smoking butt handed back to him on a platter? The guy who stated that his views on ID weren’t “fully formed” and who made several other strange comments before fleeing into his dank cave? Some “scholar”!

are of the opinion that it would be constitutional for a science teacher to teach ID in addition to evolution, or for a school board to include ID in its science curriculum.

Nice. What a coincidence that Beckwith is also a paid Discovery Institute shill, along with all the charlatans who can’t provide a single testable prediction made by “ID theory”.

the squirrels didn’t turn into chipmunks (let alone elephants); they remained squirrels, albeit with different features. The finches didn’t turn into ostriches (let alone whales or butterflies); they remained finches with different kinds of beaks.

Caldwell is a buffoon.

like i said in another thread; why don’t we sue the DI for discrimination? after all, they don’t have any african americans or women on their board as far as I know (actually, i think they may have one woman), or represented in their statements.

or would that be frivolous?

Hey JAD, you should be able to leave the Bathroom Wall for a while and post on this thread. If i remember correctly from a discussion a few months ago, Mr. Sandefur was strongly opposed to inhibiting trolls.

Good job Tim. Caldwell makes a bigger fool of himself than Dr. Scott could if she had tried.

Is there someway that Caldwell could be forced to pay for the wasted court time?

Re. Sir_Toejam’s question, it would be frivolous and, I think, of questionable ethics to assume that DI must be engaged in illegal racial discrimination just because they happen (so far as we know) not to have any black persons on their staff They are also under no legal or moral obligation to consider the race of any person when considering whether to hire that person or not, nor are they under any obligation to give preferences to any group in their public statements. Using the anti-discrimination laws against them just because we disagree with their message would be an extremely improper abuse of the legal system, in my view.

Re. steve’s post, perhaps I should clarify. I do not believe in comments at all. No offense, dear readers, but I don’t give a damn what any of you think about anything. But PT is not my property. Its proprietors have chosen to include comments from their belief that doing so helps PT‘s educational mission. That being the case, I believe in keeping a loose rein in comments, because even where a person is a “troll,” there are good-faith readers who might, from simple lack of knowledge, share the troll’s miscomprehensions of evolution. I know, because there was a time when I considered myself a creationist, and it was only because people like Philip Kitcher and Richard Dawkins took time to explain evolution that I understand it today. This is why I do not believe in ignoring trolls when responding to them might be educational to third parties. But I will strictly enforce PT‘s comment integrity policy, including banning commenters who have been banned by the rest of the PT management.

In answer to Mr. Hurd, yes, California Civil Procedure Code section 128.5 allows trial courts to require a person to pay reasonable expenses including attorney’s fees incurred by another party as a result of a frivolous lawsuit.

With respect to Caldwell’s claims regarding his “never having heard of the Safarti reference” we can note that he evidently does not browse websites on which his lengthy obfuscating drivel is posted in full.

Specifically, the IDEA Center website provides us with the following document

http://www.ideacenter.org/stuff/con[…]ordesign.pdf

which contains the following remarks

Recommended References: Darwin on Trial by Phillip Johnson, Evolution: The Fossils Still Say No! by Duane Gish,Evolution: A Theory in Crisis by Michael Denton, Bones of Contention by Marvin L. Lubenow, Refuting Evolution by Jonathan Sarfati, or see the IDEA Center website Fossil Record page at “http://www.ideacenter.org/fossrec.htm”.

Also, Safarti’s book is listed here as part of the IDEA Center’s “lending library”.

http://www.ideacenter.org/resources[…]ry_books.php

And we know Caldwell is familiar with the ol’ point and click:

http://www.evolutionnews.org/index.[…]1#trackbacks

“As a testament to the power and value of your evolution blog,”[sic] Caldwell recently told us, “the Press-Tribune was getting so many complaints .…”

This “investigation” took about fifteen minutes and, yeah, I know it doesn’t prove anything. But I’m guessing if you look at some of the references that Caldwell cites in one or more of his various ravings, you’ll find references therein to Safarti’s book, making it all the more unlikely that Caldwell “never heard of” it.

Of course, as a creationist apologist, Caldwell will most likely dissemble and claim that the book was never mentioned to him “audibly” until he read Scott’s article.

“Re. Sir_Toejam’s question, it would be frivolous and, I think, of questionable ethics to assume that DI must be engaged in illegal racial discrimination just because they happen (so far as we know) not to have any black persons on their staff “

uh, not to belabour the obvious, but I was being sarcastic.

“Using … laws against them just because we disagree with their message would be an extremely improper abuse of the legal system, in my view”

or were you being sarcastic too?

Watch out Tim, you called Caldwell a creationist, you’ll be next on his lawsuit list!

Caldwell

the squirrels didn’t turn into chipmunks .… they remained squirrels, albeit with different features

http://www.enature.com/flashcard/sh[…]umber=MA0196

Yeah, bro’, squirrels and chipmunks. How could any biologist possibly imagine that they evolved from a common ancestor? The idea is so absurd that just thinking about it makes me want to try heroin and know what it feels like to kill. Where’s Bill Dembski to talk me down?

” This is why I do not believe in ignoring trolls “

Mr. Sandefur, I don’t think you understand the meaning of the word troll. None of us here throw rocks at people willing to listen, only those who obviously and repeatedly refuse to, and continual disrup topical discussion on the threads posted here. It’s fine if you don’t agree with poking fun at those who ask for it, but at least understand what we talk about when we say “troll”.

http://www.searchlores.org/trolls.htm

why don’t you email John Davison and ask him to explain his PEH to you?

“ and it was only because people like Philip Kitcher and Richard Dawkins took time to explain evolution that I understand it today”

It is nice to hear someone who is able to change their mind after hearing all the evidence. In 25 years of listening to creationists, you are the very first i have ever heard of who did so (er, post high school anyway).

congratulations.

OTOH, “I don’t give a damn what any of you think about anything” so I guess you probably won’t bother reading this.

cheers

Perhaps it’s just me, but it appears Caldwell is trying to play the “teach the controversy” game, and get a legal ruling in favor of it. He’s trying to pass himself off as someone who’s not promoting Intelligent Design Creationism, or any other sort of creationism, but is instead promoting the teaching of the mysterious and elusive “evidence against evolution”. To reinforce this appearance, and because he’s failed with his local school board, he’s framing his frivolous lawsuits around the claim he’s not a creationist, IDC or otherwise, or at least not promoting any specific alternatives to evolution.

He’s trying to play to the IDC script and doing a poor job of it.

Sir_Toejam: my apologies. I hear serious proposals like this so often that it is extremely hard to tell the jokes from the serious things.

This is quite possibly the most in-your-face hypocrisy I’ve ever witnessed. And coming from the ID people, that’s saying a lot.

I simply cannot fathom what kind of human being can file a lawsuit claiming that he’s been wronged by a falsehood (however trivial), and then in the very press release about said lawsuit, he makes up blantant, obvious falsehoods. What kind of nerve does that take? Did he really think that no one would bother to read the original article? Is he so deluded that he actually sees things that just aren’t there? Is he illiterate?

And to top it off, he goes on a tirade about how “Darwinists” are always lying about the ID people (despite the complete lack of evidence that there was any lie in Scott’s article). This comes immediately after his own lie about the creationist activities that were supposedly attributed to him.

I honestly just don’t understand these people. What the hell is wrong with them?

Ill-conceived libel lawsuits are especially amusing because of the way they backfire.

Remember when that Men Are From Mars bozo threatened to sue some blogger because the blogger dared to refer to the diploma mill where he received his degree as a diploma mill?

To paraphrase Caldwell, “I never heard of that guy before” he threatened to sue. But now whenever I see his book I think – oh yeah, that’s the guy with the Ph.Dud from some junky ninth tier college of the “human arts”.

Likewise with Caldwell. I hadn’t been paying much attention to his bogusness.

Now Caldwell has branded himself forever as the litigious attorney/crank who kisses Disclaimery Fellow butts to high heaven. “I’m not a scientist” he admits, as he pompously recites creationist talking points and works himself into a hot lather over finch beaks.

Please: pass the popcorn!

Has Scott found it so difficult to locate someone who actually fits her preconceived stereotype of a Bible-thumper

Another point of amusement. We know West is being facetious because the “stereotypical Bible-thumpers” in most school districts where ID creationism has become an issue are far easier to find than stereotypical “nihilist Darwinists who want to ban Christianity.”

In fact, the stereotypical Bible-thumpers likely far outnumber the so-called “intellectual evangelicals” who do most of the heavy lifting on behalf of the ID Peddlement Program.

So now we definitely know what Caldwell at least thinks about those folks who stand up at school board meetings and ask “Who’s Going to Take a Stand for Jesus” in their public school’s science classroom. Evidently, he thinks such people are ridiculous and contemptible. He is so afraid of being associated with such people that he has responded in the most extreme manner that is legally permissable.

Go figure.

As co-blogger Steve Reuland pointed out, though, the first quote, attributed to Caldwell, appears almost word for word in a blog post written a few days ago by John West, in which the words are attributed to West: “Has Scott found it so difficult to locate someone who actually fits her preconceived stereotype of a Bible-thumper trying to ban evolution that she must now resort to reinventing someone to fit her stereotype? It will be interesting to see whether Scott and the California Academy of Sciences have the decency to correct the record.” How, precisely, did the quote mutate from a blog post into the words of another man in a later-issued press release?

As I pointed out to Mr. Sandefur in email (don’t know if he got the message in time or not) it’s possible that West simply closed off his quotes too soon and made Caldwell’s words appear to be his own. On the other hand, Caldwell may have appropriated West’s words almost verbatim and later used them. What’s not clear to me is whether or not that statement appeared in the original letter that Caldwell sent to Scott and the NCSE. If it did, then West probably just screwed up his formatting. Otherwise, it looks as if Caldwell let West do his writing for him.

The article that appeared in WorldNetDaily has the statement attributed to Caldwell, but it comes 3 days after West’s original post. So again, it’s not clear if the statement was in Caldwell’s original letter (and West mistakingly made it look like his own writing) or Caldwell copied it from West and then fed it to WND.

(By the way, WorldNetDaily, keeping up with its stellar reputation for journalistic integrity, doesn’t even link to Scott’s original article.)

However this turns out, it’s still quite ironic that Caldwell/West make their petulant complaint of stereotyping, yet they walk right into one. Lies, hate, and outrageous hypocrisy – just what we’ve come to expect.

May I sue Caldwell for collateral libel? Or can I at least get an injunction against his mention that he graduated from George Washington U’s law school, to avoid his contaminating my chances at better employment?

Caldwell was there before I attended, but I doubt the con law section improved so dramatically between the time he and I attended. I think his understanding of the Constitution and libel is low.

Syntax Error: mismatched tag at line 11, column 67, byte 594 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

Re “How, precisely, did the quote mutate from a blog post into the words of another man in a later-issued press release?”

Evolution in action, maybe?

—

Re “after all, they don’t have any african americans or women on their board as far as I know “

Is it discrimination, or is it that they couldn’t find any members of those groups willing to join them?

Henry

The parent, Larry Caldwell, claims that Dr. Scott has impugned his character and should pay for it.

Fellow PT’ers. My legal knowledge extends no farther than Perry Mason. What’s the harm in a little libel, I say. So, help me out here.

Suppose the director of a science organization writes, “Mr. X, a creationist, had sex with a goat.” Where’s the tort? Is it in calling Mr. X a creationist, thus ruining Mr. X’s nomination into the Academy of Sciences, or is it the goat comment for which Mr. X is drummed out of the Cattlemen’s Association?

Your thoughts, please!

“Sir_Toejam: my apologies. I hear serious proposals like this so often that it is extremely hard to tell the jokes from the serious things.”

yeah, i get that a lot :)

i guess my moniker doesn’t help much on first impression either.

cheers

GWW Wrote:

Gosh, that sure sounds like “[n]o substantial change in … biological phenomena has taken place” to me.

Don’t get lost in minutae. Fact is, Scott didn’t attribute any specific creationist beliefs to Caldwell. He simply made that up.

It’s obvious that Caldwell is some flavor of creationist. It’s equally obvious that his ploy is to obfuscate precisely which flavor he is for the purposes of claiming that he’s being misrepresented (and then suing over it). But the claim that Scott ascribed certain beliefs to him is patently false. At most, one might infer that he’s a YEC based on the materials that he may or may not have provided the school board. If Scott was mistaken about that, then she was mistaken. But nonetheless, she didn’t name any specific “creation science beliefs” that Caldwell supposedly adheres to.

What’s pretty damned funny is that Caldwell’s basic argument in this case is that having creationist beliefs ascribed to him will harm his social status, as in causing him to be “shunned and avoided”. I wonder what the ICR people think about that.

Where’s the tort? Is it in calling Mr. X a creationist, thus ruining Mr. X’s nomination into the Academy of Sciences, or is it the goat comment for which Mr. X is drummed out of the Cattlemen’s Association?

If both clauses are false, then the tort could lie in either if the failed nomination or drumming out could be shown to be caused (or likely to caused) by the false statements. But don’t quote me. ;)

Caldwell strikes me as more of a squirrel fancier …

Is Larry a Harley Davidson afficionado by chance?

Google

“I honestly just don’t understand these people. What the hell is wrong with them?”

hmm. something popped into my head when i read this. I once had a friend who accidentally hit someone elses car one day. Not a bad accident, mind you. just enough to get the insurance companies involved. He of course was concerned for the person he hit, so he checked to see if there was any injury, even tho it was not a bad accident. She assured him she was completely unhurt, and there was no problem He figured the insurance company would handle the damages, and that would be that.

8 months later, he was served with a lawsuit claiming the woman had suffered whiplash from the accident. The upshot is, i just happened to actually know the woman whom my friend had hit (and that she was in fact uninjured), and i knew that a lawyer had just told her to sue for damages because the insurance company would settle out of court for at least 10 grand.

long story perhaps, but the point is that i doubt that Caldwell is acting on his own. He is probably getting legal advice to do just what he is doing, perhaps in order to set a legal precedent, perhaps so that they can claim “there is a lawsuit against Dr. Scott for liable”.

If i am right, we should see the resolution of the lawsuit get delayed and delayed, so the IDers can play the “lawsuit against Dr. Scott” angle for as long as possible.

cheers

Sir TJ

If i am right, we should see the resolution of the lawsuit get delayed and delayed, so the IDers can play the “lawsuit against Dr. Scott” angle for as long as possible.

Gosh, would a bunch of self-proclaimed Christians trying to win a public relations battle really do something that transparent and incredibly scummy?

gee golly willikers mr. wonder, heck no!

:p

Caldwell is trying to walk the fence on intelligent design. His stuff at the IDEA website, when considered in context, reveals his true goals. He writes that he is not asking for intelligent design to be inserted into the curriculum, despite his asking that the material that ID advocates use is the material he’s asking to be inserted. He says, probably believing it himself, that he’s asking only that the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution be discussed.

Of course, nowhere does he ask that the strengths of evolution be discussed, nor does he enumerate them.

Consider what a course that actually discussed the strengths of evolution theory would include:

- The fact that evolution theory explains why fossils are found where they are. - Evolution theory’s explanation for why animal husbandry works. - The way evolution theory rather predicts something like genes. - Genetics - Evolution’s contributions to medicine, especially surgery. - The use of DNA evidence to confirm familial relationships in court, and how the same DNA evidence also confirms Linnean classifications (and falsifies others). How many other things? - The use of evolution to plot the methods of eradication for the cotton boll weevil. - The way evolution explains exactly how and why the Argentine fire ant is such a fierce competitor in North America. - Evolution’s explanation of sickle cell disease. - The Human Genome Project. - How evolution illuminates the spread of HIV/AIDS, and how evolution theory offers hope for treatments and cures. Etc., etc., etc.

We should, perhaps, make certain that every time someone like Caldwell complains that “strengths and weaknesses” are not explained, pains are taken to tally the strengths and to insist that they be taught first. The list would be a long one.

sir_toejam Wrote:

long story perhaps, but the point is that i doubt that Caldwell is acting on his own. He is probably getting legal advice to do just what he is doing, perhaps in order to set a legal precedent, perhaps so that they can claim “there is a lawsuit against Dr. Scott for liable”.

I’m sure that’s at least partially true; the DI seems to have a hand in this (John West is remarkably precient about what’s going on in the case, even to the point of knowing what Caldwell is going to say before he says it).

But it doesn’t explain why Caldwell put obvious falsehoods in his press release complaining about the supposed falsehoods he’s suffering from. He could have simply filed the suit and complained about the books that were attributed to him, however trivial that may be, and then left it at that. But instead, he has to embellish the whole thing with lots of wild-eye accusations, most of which are clearly not true. And this in a case where fact and fiction are the primary focus. It’s almost as if he were trying to discredit himself.

Interesting that for one of his claims to have even the slightest hint of merit, to wit, that Dr. Scott accused him of “advocat[ing] a number of creationist activities in public schools that are enumerated in the article—including the banning of evolution from science classes”, given Scott’s statement – that “[t]he history of creationism has followed a pattern. First, creationists attempted to ban evolution, then to teach creation science, next to teach ID, and now, most commonly, they lobby to teach EAE” – Caldwell would have to also claim to be a “creationist” … something he implicitly denies elsewhere.

But these folks aren’t real strong in the logic and consistency department.…

Cheers,

The State court complaint is public record. Anyone can go to the records department of Placer County Superior Court and obtain a photocopy for a nominal fee.

If anyone happens to be in that neighborhood: I’d be happy to reimburse you the nominal fee if you would scan it and post it!

Caldwell

They tell lies about our side and try to discredit and marginalize everyone on our side by stereotyping people as ‘religious nut cases’ who are trying to inject Genesis into science classes, or trying to ban evolution from science classes. Neither of which is true

Look at how mealy-mouthed this pathetic crybaby is.

Can there be any doubt that an earlier draft of Caldwell’s whine included the phrase “religion” where “Genesis” now sits? And that someone with an ounce more conscience than Caldwell pointed out that in fact it’s public record that injecting religion into science classes is exactly what the ID peddlers want?

As for the claim that science proponents have accused the ID peddlers of seeking to “ban evolution from science classes”, I have no idea where that’s coming from. I can’t recall Eugenie Scott ever making that claim. Nor do I recall anyone here making that claim.

What a piece of work this Caldwell is. When are his whippersnapper associates going to show up here to defend him? Or are they kept at bay, sort of like Salvador Cordova keeps his tender recruits at a safe distance.

Caldwell should be happy he’s not a stereotypical Bible-thumper like the notorious louthmouted preacher, James “Christianity Forces Me to Tell Gays They are Sick” Dobson:

Senator Salazar had attacked Focus on the Family during an interview with KKTV in Colorado Springs on Tuesday, saying, “From my point of view, they are the Antichrist of the world.”

Wow! Sen. Salazar telling it like it is, i.e., expressing his “beliefs” about warped men like Dobson, warped men who support the Discovery Institute and their ID peddling program and who appear to employ some of the same shills.

Dobson’s skin appears to be a bit thicker than Litigious Larry’s papery scales.

Or perhaps Dobson’s lawyers told him that it might be difficult to prove in court that he isn’t one of the Antichrist’s of the world. ;)

Assuming this gets to court and shows signs of running for a while, it might be worthwhile having a look at http://www.groklaw.net/. For those who have the good sense to steer well clear of the politics of the software industry and thus don’t know about a company called SCO, Groklaw is a site dedicated to the legal antics of the aforementioned organisation. It covers the ins and outs of each court case by publicising the official moves of all parties, while pulling together a community of the interested who contribute appropriate expertise to help everyone understand what’s going on. It’s also a fascinating exercise in combining partisanship with objectivity, but that’s an essay for another time…

R

Thirty years ago after a particularly laborious effort at producing a science educational program (I was an editor/publisher of science textbooks at the time) and getting it released, I received a 14 page letter threatening legal action for plagarism and both trademark and copyright infringement. All are normal hazards of publishing so my staff had thoroughly vetted all the material, knew it belonged to us and the authors, and had the document trail to prove it. So I was pleased when our outside counsel, known for his prolixity, after looking over our files replied to our nemesis wannabe’s counsel with a letter that simply said “You have no case.” We never heard from him again.

On what we can see publicly of Caldwell’s suit, that’s all the reply his suit merits. Here’s hoping that’s the case or something close to it.

You know, there is a California group that reviews textbooks. According to The Textbook League, some of the materials suggested to the schools in California are pure hokum. Here, go see: http://www.textbookleague.org/53panda.htm

Doesn’t the State of California approve texts, too? If Caldwell is urging books be adopted outside of the state-approved texts, why shouldn’t he be called a crank?

Russell Wrote:

If anyone happens to be in that neighborhood: I’d be happy to reimburse you the nominal fee if you would scan it and post it!

Yeah, me too. I’d love to view the actual complaint and see if it contains the same nonsense that appeared in the press release. And whoever forks out the nominal fee, I’ll be happy for Russell to reimburse you.

Here’s what the California education agency lists as required in biology; I think that Mr. Caldwell’s suggested materials do not cover the state standards well. (http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/pn/fd/docu[…]sci-stnd.pdf)

Evolution 7. The frequency of an allele in a gene pool of a population depends on many factors and may be stable or unstable over time. As a basis for understanding this concept: a. Students know why natural selection acts on the phenotype rather than the genotype of an organism. b. Students know why alleles that are lethal in a homozygous individual may be carried in a heterozygote and thus maintained in a gene pool. c. Students know new mutations are constantly being generated in a gene pool. d. Students know variation within a species increases the likelihood that at least some members of a species will survive under changed environmental conditions. e.* Students know the conditions for Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium in a population and why these conditions are not likely to appear in nature. f.* Students know how to solve the Hardy-Weinberg equation to predict the frequency of genotypes in a population, given the frequency of phenotypes. 8. Evolution is the result of genetic changes that occur in constantly changing environments. As a basis for understanding this concept: a. Students know how natural selection determines the differential survival of groups of organisms. b. Students know a great diversity of species increases the chance that at least some organisms survive major changes in the environment. c. Students know the effects of genetic drift on the diversity of organisms in a population. d. Students know reproductive or geographic isolation affects speciation. e. Students know how to analyze fossil evidence with regard to biological diversity, episodic speciation, and mass extinction. f.* Students know how to use comparative embryology, DNA or protein sequence comparisons, and other independent sources of data to create a branching diagram (cladogram) that shows probable evolutionary relationships. g.* Students know how several independent molecular clocks, calibrated against each other and combined with evidence from the fossil record, can help to estimate how long ago various groups of organisms diverged evolutionarily from one another.

Anyone who has any desire to e-mail Dr. Scott in support should not hesitate to do so. It is [Enable javascript to see this email address.]

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Primate

Caldwell claims a member of the school board lumped his expert’s suggested supplementary materials (which are pro-ID) with creationism and religious texts offered by other parents.

You mean the chocolate got mixed with the peanut butter? Better call the police.

Larry “Chipmunks are Chipmunks” Caldwell is going to flame out in a very amusing way.

Please: pass the popcorn!

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Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on April 27, 2005 01:18 PM (e) (s)

Paul:

As a clarification, the JWs are Christians, as are the Catholics, the Orthodox, the Quakers, and every one of the countless sects and denominations that trace the origins of their beliefs to one “Jesus (the) Christ”.

As a former Mormon in which the teaching just didn’t take, I can tell you that my experience is that Christians are not monolithic and, frequently, do not recognize other Christian sects, even if self-proclaimed as Christians, as Christians. Speaking directly in rebuttle to the JW lumping, JWs are one of the least recognized of the Christian sects and many Christians try to ‘convert’ them to Christianity.

My direct personal 22-years experience with Mormons is clear on two points. First, there are other Christian sects that so believe Mormonism to be “of the devil” they send missionaries to “convert” Mormons. Second, the Mormons are just as sure from their perspective and do the same to all others. And let me be clear, there is a doctrinal expressed belief that all other Christian churches are false and only the Mormon’s have the divine mandate and live and spread the true gospel of Jesus. All others are false.

And, no, I’m not a converted creationist. Like I said, religion didn’t take.

primate Wrote:

As a California attorney, perhaps you could graciously agree to assist Dr. Scott pro bono.

My dance card is already full, thanks very much – I already do about 50 hours per month of pro bono services!

Also, I don’t presently reside in California.

However, I notice that Cal. attorney, Joe McFaul, has offered his services (see above – post #26958). And, I would think that the thread originator, attorney Timothy Sandefur, would be highly motivated to take up Ms. Scott’s cause.

:)

“And, no, I’m not a converted creationist. Like I said, religion didn’t take.”

thank god.

Um, Moses, Mormons don’t hold creationism as a tenet of the faith anyway. Evolution is fine by them.

Socrateaser noted …

My dance card is already full … However, I notice that Cal. attorney, Joe McFaul, has offered his services … And, I would think that the thread originator, attorney Timothy Sandefur, would be highly motivated to take up Ms. Scott’s cause.

McFaul runs a fine blog, Law Evolution and Junk Science that’s worth following so I wasn’t surprised to read his volunteering his time. Sandefur also runs a blog, Freespace, that’s also an interesting one to follow, but he may have a full plate at the moment. But I strongly suspect that the NCSE has long had an attorney or a law firm on a pro bono retainer, if there is such a beast, who is well into preparing a response to Larry Caldwell as we read.

Keanus

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 27, 2005 01:36 PM

rockin!

I wonder if it would be worthwhile to get a summary post together that goes into just how many people HAVE changed their minds, and why.

I think it could be very valuable, at least to show that it happens, and that those who might be on the fence have a few examples.

thoughts?

Posted by P. Mihalakos on April 27, 2005 01:52 PM

I think it could be very valuable, at least to show that it happens, and that those who might be on the fence have a few example.

Yes. I, for one, think this is a very good idea. So good that it may have already been done. It would make especially interesting reading if posters were encouraged to try to put their finger on those crucial points in time when their opinions changed. Some real surprises might turn up.

Posted by Henry J on April 27, 2005 04:25 PM

I looked through the titles of the talk.origins archive “post of the month” and found five articles:

2002 Former Creationists 2003 A Crisis of Faith: An Ex-Creationist Speaks A Former Creationist’s Testimony A Personal Journey 2004 Awake for the First Time

I would love to paticipate in some sort of compliation of how various YEC’s have come to their present positions, even if those positions are somewhere short of, say STJ or PZ. I wouldn’t know the first thing about how to coordinate that here on PT or over at TO (or ideally both), but it would certainly be worth doing.

For me personally, the tipping point was the realization that fellow-Christians who were in positions of biblical authority over me while in high school and college, used those positions to willfully and knowingly lie to me. Luckily, I was too busy feeding my alcohol addiction in my twenties to do much deep thinking on subjects such as origins. If I had, I fear I would have simply chucked God overboard along with everything else rather than taking the slower, more reasoned approach that comes with age. I started my research after my head cleared in my early 30’s, and the very postings Henry lists helped me take the final steps to where I am now at 40.

The New Testament is full of warnings about false prophets and wolves in sheep’s clothing. I guess I should have paid closer attention. Or maybe the path I’ve taken was necessary both for me and for those I influence now (I am active in high school youth ministry). And maybe my path is now crossing the paths of those here for a very specific reason.

sounds like PT needs a “suggestion box” for ideas requiring some form of action.

In the meantime, maybe you could write the host of TO and ask if he would post a compilation of the sort you propose. Then maybe ask those that have posted changed views if you could interview them to add to the compilation.

eventually, patterns would emerge that might be worth summarizing into a new section on TO as well.

cheers

you might also want to examine the exchange between Lenny and Lurker in this thread:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archi[…].html#c26708

sounds like Lurker might be interested in something along the lines of what you propose.

cheers

Well, this whle thing strikes me as a little odd. I’ve now heard from a local intelligent design advocate (who, I might add, seemed to be doing a bit of chest-thumping both about this and about the intelligent design “controversy” gracing the cover of Nature) who insists that Eugenie Scott “needs to get her facts straight.” I instead submit that, if Scott doesn’t have her facts straight, it’s very likely that Caldwell submitted a paucity of facts regarding his new curriculum. I feel ID often does that–the case is extremely weak to begin with, but they turn this to an advantage by offering almost no details regarding their position. I’ll bet almost every ID advocate at some point has screamed out “you don’t even know my position on this subject!” and has been right–because nobody does. The intended message from Caldwell seems to be “fill in the details at your own peril–we strike from the dark, and any attempts to call us out of it will be punished.”

“the case is extremely weak to begin with, but they turn this to an advantage by offering almost no details regarding their position”

man, this sounds like almost every political platform i have ever seen a potential candidate take for the last 20 years.

coincidence? doubt it.

Joe has been mentioned a few times in this thread. He has an interesting analysis on his blog: http://brightline.typepad.com/law_e[…]s_intel.html

It is a bit long for a comment here, but is certainly worth reading.

According to WingNutDaily there is a new development in this case:

Caldwell said he’s been contacted by two other individuals who say they have been libeled by Scott’s NCSE.

In 2002, biologist Jonathan Wells, a leading figure in the Intelligent Design movement, claimed his science credentials were impugned by NCSE officials Kevin Padian and Alan Gishlick.

Padian and Gishlick wrote that after Wells obtained his Ph.D. in biology, he “followed this with a 5-year postdoctoral position … during which time he seems to have performed no experiments” and “no peer-reviewed publications resulted.”

Both claims were false, according to John West of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, who noted that even after sending documentation, the two authors refused to correct the record.

“Caldwell said he’s been contacted by two other individuals who say they have been libeled by Scott’s NCSE” … “according to John West “

Its not like Caldwell doesn’t know them. He spoke along with West, Beckwith, Cooper and John Calvert advocating the teaching of ID at Biola in 2004.

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This page contains a single entry by Timothy Sandefur published on April 26, 2005 6:26 PM.

Exploding Frogs = Intelligent Design? was the previous entry in this blog.

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