Kansas Kangaroo Court Commences

| 26 Comments | 3 TrackBacks

The Kansas Kangaroo Court hearings have commenced. See the latest from Red State Rabble, and see the story by Jodi Wilgoren.

“Can you tell us, sir, how old you believe the Earth is?” the lawyer, Pedro Irigonegaray, asked William S. Harris, a chemist, who helped write the proposed changes to the state standards.

“I don’t know,” Dr. Harris replied. “I think it’s probably really old.”

There’s your 21st century science for you, from a leader of the Kansas Intelligent Design Network.

Note to Harris: The right answer is 4.5 billion years, give or take maybe 1%. Go read The Age of the Earth by Brent Dalrymple, who was just awarded a National Medal of Science by George W. Bush.

“There is no science without criticism,” said Charles Thaxton, a chemist and co-author of the 1984 book “The Mystery of Life’s Origins,” which questions traditional scientific explanations. “Any science that weathers the criticism and survives is a better theory for it.”

And anyone that promotes creationism, like Charles Thaxton, should realize that it has failed to weather criticism for the last 150 years and should have been discarded long ago, not continually promoted by various sneaky strategies, like those being used in Kansas.

3 TrackBacks

Madrassas in Kansas from The Politburo Diktat on May 5, 2005 8:17 PM

NYT: Kansas Begins Creationism Hearings In the first of three daylong hearings characterized here as the direct descendant of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, a parade of Ph.D.'s testified today about the flaws they find in Darwin's theory of evolution, t... Read More

Charles Thaxton says something very silly. Read More

"Waterloo" for evolutionists is delayed yet again... Read More

26 Comments

Nick when you observed,

… anyone that promotes creationism, like Charles Thaxton, should realize that it has failed to weather criticism for the last 150 years and should have been discarded long ago …

I think you misspoke in your haste to get the message out. Science discarded creationism long ago. It’s only survived in the stagnant backwaters of theology and politics.

“I don’t know,” Dr. Harris replied. “I think it’s probably really old.”

No. Freaking. Way.

“Can you tell us, sir, how old you believe the Earth is?” the lawyer, Pedro Irigonegaray, asked William S. Harris, a chemist, who helped write the proposed changes to the state standards.

“I don’t know,” Dr. Harris replied. “I think it’s probably really old.”

No shit.

HOW old.

Wait, let me guess —– you;re not an expert on that so you can’t say, right?

Well, Dr, since you’re a freaking CHEMIST and have NO EXPERTISE in biology whatsoever, why the hell are you even on the witness stand in the first place?

By the way, for all the IDers who will want to duck questions about the age of the earth or the descent of humans from apelike primates by stammering “Gee, I dunno, I’m not an expert” —- who IS the ID expert. Who IS the ID guy that we should ask these questions. Which ID “scientists” DO you recomment we ask instead.

Or are ALL of you just dumbshits who are blithering outside their area of expertise?

My kids think that I am “really old” and I guess I am, relative to my cat, that is.

I’m disappointed that Irigonegaray didn’t ask “how old” as “really old” isn’t exactly quantitative.

Gee, I wonder if a PhD Chemist could come up with a way to accurately determine the age of the earth. Might be worth a Nobel Prize. I wonder why *this* chemist seems to be so incurious.

Kathy Martin and Connie Morris, agreed several times with witnesses critical of evolution.

“I was hoping this hearing would give me good, hard evidence that I could repeat,” Morris said.

…yeah, but if there’s nothing “good” or “hard,” she’ll be satifisfied if it’s something that she can repeat.

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/7749688/

“Dr. Dobson, would you love your children any less if, in fact, the earth is 4.5 billion years old and the Bible isn’t the word of God?” – a question I personally asked to James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, back in 1999. Believe it or not, his answer was “I don’t know.” He did follow-up with a belated “The Bible isn’t wrong.” Perhaps this is an example of “ID Family Values”? On the other hand, I’m convinced that my children are directly related to slime mold – and I couldn’t love my children more if I tried. I’m also proud of my distant cousins to boot!

During the hearing, Irigonegaray asked Thaxton whether he accepted the theory that humans and apes had a common ancestor.

“Personally, I do not,” Thaxton said. “I’m not an expert on this. I don’t study this.”

What are these IDiots experts on anyway?

Certainly isn’t anything to do with science.

“Science discarded creationism long ago.”

Yeah, sometimes Science just up and does that. It’s probably a little like Nature and her selections, eh?

“Certainly isn’t anything to do with science.”

So, did Science decide to prove that humans and apes have a common ancestor, with an ultimate ancestor of a puddle of mud? Or did Nature select that?

I wonder about some little fellows who are rather passive agressive. It’s probably from the urge to merge. They’re not deciding anything. They don’t believe anything, or at least believe they do not believe anything. And so on…fascinating really, the way the minds of Naturalists seem to fold in on themselves. They’re really not doing anything, see. It’s Science that does it. It’s Nature that does it. It’s their brains thinking for them, as they cannot think through their brains.

Well, it might be a good idea for more rational people to take up a scientific study of their memes. I recommend it! It’s quite fascinating.

Mynym said:

“Science discarded creationism long ago.”

Yeah, sometimes Science just up and does that. It’s probably a little like Nature and her selections, eh?

No, it was that the testable hypotheses of creationism were tested, and creationism was falsified. No geology consistent with a single great flood. No biology consistent with a single creation, nor with multiple special creations. Science – then headed mostly by Christian theologians – discarded creationism long ago as terrible theology, since it made God out to be a liar, and discarded it as science because it was falsified.

It’s only “like natural selection” in that the stuff that works stays, and the stuff that doesn’t work is discarded.

Which brings up an interesting question: Mynym, why do you advocate we teach science that doesn’t work to kids?

Mynym said:

“Certainly isn’t anything to do with science.”

So, did Science decide to prove that humans and apes have a common ancestor, with an ultimate ancestor of a puddle of mud? Or did Nature select that?

That was the evidence God offered. Some reject God’s creation as truthful, scientists accept it. Why do you reject the evidence creation provides? Is there any theology that supports a rejection of God’s creation in that fashion, or is that one more thing creationism has ignored in its headlong, mad rush to denigrate science?

I wonder about some little fellows who are rather passive agressive. It’s probably from the urge to merge. They’re not deciding anything. They don’t believe anything, or at least believe they do not believe anything.

We can’t figure out what modern creationists believe, ultimately, either. If you find out, let us know. But it’s mean and uncalled for to say Dembski’s views are driven by an “urge to merge.” Watch out – some one will say your line is not the height of wit – probably David Berlinski, the humor cop of intelligent design.

And so on … fascinating really, the way the minds of Naturalists seem to fold in on themselves. They’re really not doing anything, see. It’s Science that does it. It’s Nature that does it. It’s their brains thinking for them, as they cannot think through their brains.

You don’t get out much, do you? Nothing you’ve ascribed to scientists in that paragraph comes from science.

What is it about creationism that so divorces its victims from reality? Do you tell these fables intentionally, knowing they are false and against the faith I presume you otherwise profess – or is it like a narcotic addiction, and you ‘just can’t help yourself?’

Either way it’s unbecoming, and pathological. There is help available for such compulsions, but most of it is based on science from evolution.

Well, it might be a good idea for more rational people to take up a scientific study of their memes. I recommend it! It’s quite fascinating.

Mynym, study thyself.

“I don’t know,” Dr. Harris replied. “I think it’s probably really old.”

This is *really* pathetic – it’s right at the intellectual level of a Beavis and Butthead episode…

Teacher: Butthead, how old is the Earth?

Butthead: I don’t know. I think it’s probably *really* old… huh-huh-uh-huh-huh-huh-uh-huh-huh-huh…

More on what Bill Harris said. Watching these reports dribble out is just way too much fun:

William Harris, a medical researcher and co-founder of a Kansas group called the Intelligent Design Network, posed the core question about life’s beginnings before mapping out why he and other Christians want changes in school curriculum.

School science classes are teaching children that life evolved naturally and randomly, Harris said, arguing that this was in conflict with Biblical teachings that God created life.

“They are offering an answer that may be in conflict with religious views,” Harris said in opening the debate. “Part of our overall goal is to remove the bias against religion that is currently in schools. This is a scientific controversy that has powerful religious implications.”

(Bill Harris, Kansas ID Network, quoted by CNN)

Yep, it’s really the “scientific controversy” that’s behind all this…

And so on … fascinating really, the way the minds of Naturalists seem to fold in on themselves. They’re really not doing anything, see. It’s Science that does it It’s Nature that does it. It’s their brains thinking for them, as they cannot think through their brains

I believe the religious impulse is adaptive. The ability to shape abstract world views (beliefs) that can be communicated and shared is a evolutionary adaptation. We all do it. Some probably more than others. Scientists aren’t exempt from it either. That’s why the scientific method is so brilliant. It counteracts this drive by the necessity of evidence. If enough evidence mounted up that showed that my pet theory on the religious impulse was wrong I’d resist it but eventually accept it. That’s the difference between naturalists and creationists. We follow the facts and not the beliefs.

A WingNutDaily columnist puts his spin on the kangaroo court and takes a swipe at Kansas Citizens For Science:

This week, the leading lights of the Intelligent Design movement – Drs. Jonathan Wells and Michael Behe among them – will make their way to Topeka, Kan. There, they will make an appeal to the state’s elected school board to allow in-class criticisms of Darwinism and its derivatives, which are now taught not as theory – not even as fact, actually – but as something close to dogma.

The ID advocates may very well succeed. The school board now has a 6-to-4 majority sympathetic to a rational challenge to Darwnism. What is more, in the six years since the evolution controversy first exploded in Kansas, the ID movement has done an impressive job refocusing the debate on science and logic and undoing the crude stereotypes under which all opponents of naturalism have had to labor since the Scopes trial.

The pro-Darwinian forces in Kansas, however, are not about to roll over. These forces have come together under the aegis of the not-for-profit Kansas Citizens For Science and have mounted a systematic and effective resistance since 1999 when the issue first surfaced. This year, in response to the leveling of the playing field, KCFS has opted for hardball.

On Feb. 10, in its typically hyperbolic style, KCFS posted on its website a series of attacks against the “the six-member anti-science majority” and the ID advocates and threatened a “staged re-enactment of the Scopes trial.”

Behind the scenes, the language was less tempered still. The KCFS discussion board lit up that day. And although most of the comments are not particularly relevant, those from the KCFS Secretary and Media Contact Liz Craig bear scrutiny.

Read the rest here.

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“Read the rest here.”

why?

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“Dr. Dobson, would you love your children any less if, in fact, the earth is 4.5 billion years old and the Bible isn’t the word of God?”

I dunno. Is it possible for Dobson to “love” the little tykes less? Maybe if he hit them hard upside the head with a full swing of a baseball bat.…. That might be a little less “loving” than just beating them,for hours if necessary, until they “submit”.

Cheers,

“As I’ve always said, if you simply keep a fundie talking long enough, he will shoot himself in the head every single time.”

the whole Kansas Kangaroo thing reminds me of the Python “twit of the year” sketch.

This is a scientific controversy that has powerful religious implications

It’s so pathetic.

What are these implications?

And why are they any more powerful than the “implications” which flow from the mundane universally-accepted ubiquitously confirmed truth that knowledge may be acquired through empirical observation and hypothesis without invoking mysterious alien beings????????

Answer that goddamn question, Mr. Harris, you dissembling lying ass.

This is from my News Review site, a coverage on this subject.

Debate on How Evolution Should be Taught in Kansas Schools

In Topeka, Kansas, they are working on the issue of how to teach Evolution in schools. One thing they might look at, is to quit teaching that Darwin was the first to bring up this theory. He was actually the fourth or maybe further on this list of those that have discovered factors that have lead to the idea of Evolution. The thought about Evolution has been around from the time of Ancient Greece. They might not teach that Darwin accepted god on his death bed. Darwin suffered from a debilitating disease that the last two years of his life, he could not speak, and the last thing on that subject was in a letter to his friend and to his daughter, who took care of him, that he “Questioned the teachings and faith of God from what he had learned.” Another issue might be that Darwin did not say man came from ape, but that man and ape came from a common ancestor They might teach that the evidence for Evolution out weights Creation Science on every scale. To believe in creation science, which most members have been banned by the science community for science fraud, is to believe that Christianity is based on a God of Chaotic Magic and not a God of reason. I remember talking to a Preacher that accepted the teachings of Evolution. He said that evolution was the process that God used to create life, as it covered all the needs that life would need, whereas Creation as taught in the Bible left that open to chance. This is probably the best definition I have ever heard to explain Evolution. What Darwin did with Evolution, was something that had not been done since Ancient Greece, he brought it to the public view. And in a world held by slightly literate leaders in the churches, who at the time were still being taught that dragons were a reality, this fell onto minds that could not understand. Like Langdon Gilkey said in his book, “Creationism on Trial: Evolution and God at Little Rock” (1985), one of the things that said something was a truth was “What society was willing to accept”, and in this, that statement is still very true. Even though tons of evidence has shown the facts of Evolution, many still try to say that there is little fact to back this up. In a pamphlet distributed by some churches, it was stated to prove the lack of information on this, “During the Devonian Era there has been no findings of life” when in fact this was a major advancing period of life. http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/devoni[…]evonian.html What is worse, is that the Professor that made this statement for the pamphlet was from the Berkley University. And he was a “member of the Creation Science Foundation” the very ones that have had so many charges in the Science community of Science Fraud. So how should Evolution be taught in school? Teach the truth about it. Teach that it is what gives life its ability to adapt to the changing environments. Teach that it is an idea that has been around for many centuries, and not just from the mid 1800’s. That is the only answer that can be taught, just teach the truth.

From the Associated Press:

A look at hearings on evolution

Associated Press

THE HEARINGS: A three-member subcommittee of the State Board of Education is taking testimony on evolution and its perceived flaws.

THE SCHEDULE: Hearings were in their second day Friday and are to continue Saturday and next Thursday.

WHY THE HEARINGS: The entire state board plans to consider changes in June in standards used to test Kansas students statewide on science.

LIGHT READING: Many witnesses acknowledged they’d not fully read a set of evolution-friendly standards proposed by educators. So, too, did board subcommittee members Kathy Martin, of Clay Center, and Connie Morris, of St. Francis.

WHO’S TESTIFYING: Advocates of intelligent design or other critics of evolution.

WHAT’S UNDER ATTACK: Evolutionary theory saying that change in species can result in new species and that different species, including man and apes, have common ancestors.

WITNESSES’ GOAL: To show that molecular biology and other science challenges evolutionary theory instead of supporting it.

NO APES AS COUSINS: Under questioning, witnesses said they don’t believe all life came from a common origin or that man evolved from ape-like creatures. Witness John Sanford, an associate professor of horticultural sciences at Cornell University, said: “My explanation, humbly offered, is that we were specially created.”

A YOUNG EARTH: Sanford also said he believes the Earth is between 5,000 and 100,000 years old, but others said their best guess is 4.5 billion-plus years, which most scientists accept.

AN ANNIVERSARY: Eighty years ago Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union agreed to help defend Dayton, Tenn., teacher John Scopes, who was eventually convicted of violating a state law against the teaching of evolution.

Another AP story:

Posted on Fri, May. 06, 2005

Witnesses disclose what critics say are creationist views

JOHN HANNA

Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. - Witnesses trying to persuade Kansas officials to encourage more criticism of evolution in public school classrooms made statements Friday that some scientists said betrayed creationist views.

Witnesses in a State Board of Education hearing on how the theory should be taught also acknowledged they hadn’t fully read evolution- friendly science standards proposed by educators. Nor had two of three presiding board members.

A board subcommittee had its second day of hearings and planned to continue Saturday and hursday. The entire board plans to consider changes in June to standards that determine how Kansas students are on science.

State and national science groups are boycotting the hearings, viewing them as rigged in favor of language backed by intelligent design advocates.

In turn, intelligent design advocates contend they’ve been portrayed unfairly as advocating creationism. Intelligent design says some features of the natural world are so complex and well-ordered that they’re best explained by an intelligent cause.

Repeatedly, Topeka attorney Pedro Irigonegaray, representing the drafters of the evolution-friendly standards, questioned witnesses about their personal beliefs.

Witnesses repeatedly said they didn’t believe all life had a common origin or that man evolved from earlier, ape-like creatures. Some said they accept the widespread scientific conclusion that the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, but two said they believe it is between 5,000 and 100,000 years old.

“They’re creationists first and scientists second,” Robert Bowden, a Kansas State University plant pathologist, said after Friday’s hearing.

Witnesses said the language backed by intelligent design advocates would allow freer debate in the classroom.

“Teachers should be actually encouraged to discuss these issues,” said Russell Carlson, a biochemist and molecular biologist at the University of Georgia in Athens.

Irigonegaray repeatedly pointed out that witnesses had not fully read the evolution-friendly proposal, which would continue the state’s policy describing the theory as a key concept for students to learn.

Board member Kathy Martin, of Clay Center, elicited groans of disbelief from a few audience members when she acknowledged she had only scanned the proposal, which is more than 100 pages. Later, board member Connie Morris, of St. Francis, also said she had only scanned it.

Martin said during a break: “I’m not a word-for-word reader in this kind of technical information.”

Intelligent design advocates continued calling scholars, biologists and chemists to attack evolutionary theory that all life arose from a common source and that change in species over time can lead to new species.

Similar battles over evolution have occurred in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania in the past few years.

In 1999, the Kansas State Board of Education, with a conservative majority - including Abrams - deleted most references to evolution in the science standards. The next election led to a less conservative board, which adopted the current standards. In last year’s elections, conservatives captured a majority again.

Irigonegaray hoped to show that intelligent design is a religious concept. He asked Carlson, “In your opinion, the intelligent designer is God, is it not?”

Carlson replied: “Well, yeah, I would agree with that.”

Asked to explain the appearance of humans on Earth, witness John Sanford, an associate professor of horticultural sciences at Cornell University, said: “My explanation, humbly offered, is that we were specially created.”

The board has sought to avoid comparisons between its hearings and the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial in Dayton, Tenn., in which teacher John Scopes was convicted of violating a state law against teaching evolution. However, both sides are represented by attorneys, even if scientists refuse to testify for evolution.

On Thursday morning, the hearings filled a 180-seat auditorium, but by Friday, it was more than half empty.

Hmm. So much for that whole “ID isn’t creationism” thingie, huh.

Board member Kathy Martin, of Clay Center, elicited groans of disbelief from a few audience members when she acknowledged she had only scanned the proposal, which is more than 100 pages. Later, board member Connie Morris, of St. Francis, also said she had only scanned it.

Martin said during a break: “I’m not a word-for-word reader in this kind of technical information.”

“Stupid for Jesus”, huh. Seems to be the motto of . . a lot of people.

I wonder if I could go to Kansas and sell T-shirts?

This seems the best place ot put what I read at work yesterday- the view from the BBC in the UK:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/am[…]/4521157.stm

“A three-member Board of Education sub-committee called the hearings to consider revisions to the state science teachings standards.

In June, they will decide whether to revise the science curriculum to include criticisms of the principles of evolution as an explanation of the origin of life, the Universe and the genetic code.

Teachers would be encouraged to discuss “alternative explanations”.

The hearings are complete with opposing attorneys and a long witness list, although the witnesses are all allied against the teaching of evolution.”

Seems fair enough to me. What i find interesting is the quotes from people involved. First bit from the anti-science people:

“ Schools were teaching that life evolved naturally and randomly, in conflict with Biblical teachings on the creation of life, said William Harris of the Kansas-based Intelligent Design Network.

“Part of our overall goal is to remove the bias against religion that is currently in schools,” said Mr Harris, who works as a medical researcher.”

That sumss up some of hte usual misunderstanding about evolution. It also puts the kangaroo court squarly in the religious camp.

The Scientists response sounds good: “Instead of testifying at the hearings, science groups are holding daily news conferences.

On the opening day of the hearings, they rolled out a wheelbarrow and two crates full of scientific journals full of arguments and evidence supporting evolution.

“This is a showcase trial,” said Jack Krebs, vice-president for Kansas Citizens for Science. “They have hijacked science and education.””

I would like to suggest that any scientists there point out in as few words as possible how much this is a kangaroo court, set up after the decisions didnt go the way of the creationists. Not just the breach of normal protocol, but the way in which it is a stacked deck.

It’s interesting to note the background of the ID “experts”, people with degrees in chemistry, horticulture and the like, extolling the “evidence” against evolution. But none with degrees in ecology, population genetics, paleontology, etc. Hmmm. Also, it is also interesting to note that creationists often refer to “expert” opinions of M.D.s, as if they are more knowledgeable about evolution (and thus the flaws of evolution) than the general public. But we all know how much time they spend teaching evolution in medical school.

I am going to start teaching biology at an Illinois university in the fall, and I indeed intend to discuss these “criticisms” of evolution in class, as well as to go into detail as to how these criticisms are based upon misunderstanding, lack of understanding, and misrepresentation of actual scientific knowledge. I encourage any biology teacher, instructor, or professor who is “encouraged” by politicians and administrators to include in their curricula the criticisms - “flaws and weaknesses” - of evolution, to talk in detail on the flaws and weaknesses of such criticisms as well (its only fair). I think this is just as important as teaching evolution.

It is also important to educate students that there is no part of science - evolution included - that can either deny or confirm the existence of God. That is up to the decision of the individual. Science just says “this is the way things are”. If you wish to believe they are this way because God makes them this way, or alternatively because it was an outcome of random chance, it is up to you. I’m sure some creationist will go on a tirade on how wrong I am about science and evolution (they always do), but I am just a silly scientist with a PhD in evolutionary genetics, so what do I know about my own field?

That is the nature of creationist arguments: arrogance. I would never have the arrogance to argue engineering, architecture, accountancy, or economics with an engineer, architect, accountant, or economist, or have the audacity to them that they have misconceptions about their own fields, or that I know more about their professions than they do. Those are not my field and I have the humility to acknowledge that I know nothing about these subjects. But repeatedly, people with degrees in engineering, architecture, accountancy, business management, etc., (or with no degree at all!) will argue about science, evolution and genetics with scientists, evolutionary biologists and geneticists. They will even going so far as to tell these scientists that they have misconceptions about science, evolution and genetics. Go figure.

P.S. Please get the word out the “Big Bang” is NOT part of evolutionary theory! This is the realm of astronomy and astrophysics! I am sooooooooooo tired of this misconception!!!!!! (again, I expect some creationist to tell me how wrong I am about my chosen field of study).

Chris:

While you wouldn’t presume to tell some specialists their own business, I wouldn’t be surprised if certain specialties were exceptions. People consider themselves ‘expert enough’ about evolution because of the strength of their religious beliefs, which evolution overlaps. To the extent that they overlap, a lifetime of bible school seems to make one an expert.

Other specialties commonly tromped on with the “my opinion is as good as yours or anyone else’s” attitude are psychology (because everyone is a person), politics (because politics IS just opinion, isn’t it?) management and administration, and others. Even the suggestion that expertise exists in some of these fields is met with derision.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on May 5, 2005 7:45 PM.

Evolution - from Carnivore to Herbivore? was the previous entry in this blog.

Clueless creationist testifies for Kansas BoE is the next entry in this blog.

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