The fundamental (and wrong) religious argument of the IDists in Kansas

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On a local discussion forum in Lawrence, Kansas today, a poster named “Conservativeman” wrote a nice succinct summary of the main arguments presented by the Intelligent Design advocates (IDists) at the Kansas “science” hearings last May, and of those arguments incessantly put forth by ID leader John Calvert.

It may be that I am being too repetitious in my posts here at the Panda’s thumb, making the same points over and over. However, I think these points may become critical in case the Kansas situation goes to court, so for me I think it’s worth my while (if not the readers) to try to get as clear of an understanding of the fundamental religious argument that is being made by the IDists in Kansas.

Conservativeman wrote,

The problem is that an “Evolution Only,” policy is not really scientific or constitutional. It is not scientific because it is officially biased rather than scientifically objective. Because it is biased, it is not religiously neutral. Evolution Only effectively requires our children to “know” that we come from a natural rather than an intelligent cause, that we are occurrences and not designs, and that we naturally arise without purpose from a purposeless process. It effectively teaches that no rational evidentiary basis exists for theistic beliefs. Evolution Only converts these scientific claims into dogmas that are the fundamental tenets of non-theistic religions and that directly contradict the fundamental tenets of theistic religions. Accordingly, in my opinion, Evolution Only is not “secular” or neutral. Rather it is an ideology that directly conflicts with the First Amendment rights of parents and students.

This argument is quite wrong in a number of fundamental and important ways – ways that may eventually be settled in a court case. I’d like to respond to these points a few lines at a time.

Conservativeman:

The problem is that an “Evolution Only,” policy is not really scientific or constitutional. It is not scientific because it is officially biased rather than scientifically objective.

By protesting “evolution only”, the IDists are really protesting that the theory of evolution is taught as solid, fundamental mainstream science; and that science is, as the good (and now rejected) Kansas science standards say, “the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us.” This is the definition of science the IDists have taken out because they want the possibility of supernatural explanations (design) to be considered as real science.

The theory of evolution is “biased” only in the sense that science itself is “biased”: science limits itself to explanations that are testable through empirical means. Science disentangled itself from metaphysical explanations about 500 years ago, a move that has proven to be quite successful. The only “bias” science has is a bias towards sticking to a method that has worked rather than resorting to a return to medieval modes of thinking.

Cman then writes,

Because it is biased, it is not religiously neutral. Evolution Only effectively requires our children to “know” that we come from a natural rather than an intelligent cause, that we are occurrences and not designs, and that we naturally arise without purpose from a purposeless process. It effectively teaches that no rational evidentiary basis exists for theistic beliefs.

This statement confuses scientific knowledge with metaphysical belief, and in doing so it creates a false dichotomy between that idea that something can be explained by natural causes and the idea that something was caused by God. Millions of Christians and other religious people do not accept this dichotomy because they believe that God acts through natural causes.

So when students are taught any scientific explanation (not just evolution), they are not being taught, explicitly or implicitly, that God wasn’t involved. Teaching the theory of evolution does not imply to students that they arose “without purpose from a purposeless process.”

This argument is the Wedge in action: if you are really for God you will reject science. However, this argument is proven false by the religious beliefs of millions who do not believe that causes are either natural or “designed,” but rather believe that both nature and God are involved because God acts through natural causes: many agree with St, Augustine that “nature is what God does.”

Conservativeman concludes by writing,

Evolution Only converts these scientific claims into dogmas that are the fundamental tenets of non-theistic religions and that directly contradict the fundamental tenets of theistic religions. Accordingly, in my opinion, Evolution Only is not “secular” or neutral. Rather it is an ideology that directly conflicts with the First Amendment rights of parents and students.

No. Science does not take a stand on these theological perspectives because science can’t. Science in general, nor the theory of evolution in particular, does not “contradict the fundamental tenets of theistic religions.” Science may contradict some people’s beliefs about the world: science stands strongly behind the claims, for instance, that the earth is over 4 billion years old and that all life is related through biological common descent. But science does not contradict the theistic beliefs of millions who accept the findings of science about the physical world and find those findings no threat to their beliefs about the spiritual world.

Conservativeman, and the ID movement in general, are really fighting philosophical materialism and atheism. They have made science, and evolution in particular, the target of this battle, but they are wrong to do so.

Conservativeman says that science is “an ideology that directly conflicts with the First Amendment rights of parents and students.”

This is the point that may eventually settled in the courts. My claim is that our school Board may well be in violation of the Establishment clause because they have based decisions about our science standards on the argument put forth here by Conservativeman: that science is atheistic. In doing so they have advanced a particular religious perspective (that it is either nature or God that acts) and rejected another religious perspective (that it is nature and God that acts.) In doing so, it is the Board that that has violated the First Amendment, not those who want to teach science while remaining neutral on theological issues.

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Tuesday Roundup from Blog from the Capital on November 15, 2005 11:37 AM

The Boston Globe reports that the number of religious clubs meeting in public schools during off-hours is on the rise, the Supreme Court's 2001 Good News Club decision . NPR's Jason DeRose, on Day to Day, had a piece yesterday... Read More

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It is not scientific because it is officially biased rather than scientifically objective

anybody else see the problem with that?

My claim is that our school Board may well be in violation of the Establishment clause because they have based decisions about our science standards on the argument put forth here by Conservativeman: that science is atheistic

Perhaps it would be good to define atheism?

How could the lack of application of religious belief be a religion?

I certaintly can’t recall having seen any atheist churches lately.

I don’t agree that an atheist promotes an anti-religious perspective.

correct me if i’m off base here, but saying that doing science “promotes” atheism ignores how the scientific method works to begin with.

as has been pointed out MANY times, there are pleny of practicing scientists that are also religious.

science is taugt as a method, not a philosophy, regardless of the sloppy use of terms sometimes.

I’ve always viewed it as merely the instruction in how to use a set of tools, like one would instruct a mechanic in how to use a set of socket wrenches.

I guess I am failing to see the logic behind the argument that science negates religion, both in the constitutional sense mentioned and in any more esoteric sense.

Evolution Only effectively requires our children to “know” that we come from a natural rather than an intelligent cause, that we are occurrences and not designs, and that we naturally arise without purpose from a purposeless process. It effectively teaches that no rational evidentiary basis exists for theistic beliefs.

Which implies that there exists no evidence for God aside from the origin of humanity.

I dunno whether Conservativeman is a theist or not, but surely most Christians would disagree strenuously with that? I mean, yes, they value faith and all, but as Matt Young says, virtually every religion claims their truths have some detectable consequences. The healing power of prayer, personal mystic experiences, historical evidence for religious figures, stuff like that. How many theists openly reject all of that and instead say they believe in God purely because of the design argument as applied to homo sapiens?

I wouldn’t be concerned about your posts here being repetitious. There is nothing wrong with repeating a point when it is relevent and valid.

Besides, in politics it often pays to be repetitious. Keep up the good work out there in the trenches.

The problem is that an “Evolution Only,” policy is not really scientific or constitutional.

This is tendentious question begging right off the top. There is no “evolution only” policy, there’s a “science only” policy, which of course is both scientific and constitutional. Which reduces cman’s argument to nothing. All that remains is the oh so familiar question of whether ID is science.

Amen. A great piece! (Not that it will spare you from future smitings from the fundies)

How many theists openly reject all of that and instead say they believe in God purely because of the design argument as applied to homo sapiens

perhaps the whole argument arises from poor religious education to begin with?

is it illogical to assume that many parents have been lazy about instructing their own children in what constitutes their faith, and all they end up getting across basically boils down to a design argument?

It is not scientific because it is officially biased rather than scientifically objective

anybody else see the problem with that?

Not me; if we were talking about a “Lysenckoism only” policy, he would have a point.

heh. yup.

OTOH, STJ, you can color me slow. I guess you were referring to the Kansas board injecting their bias in place of science.

Hey, STJ, give me time to reconsider before slapping me around with your snark, wouldja? :-)

Is this your best opposition? ‘Science only’ is what science class is for. All school subjects are supposed to be biased in favor of being correct. He wants some subjects to be deliberately incorrect to make him feel good.

Give him a clue: you don’t honor the creator by stubbornly refusing to believe the creation. If his religion is so bad that it has to be propped up by lying to children about science, he has a personal problem.

I see no correct sentences from Cman, other than the technicality that when he says at the end that X is his opinion - I suppose it is. However, he starts with the claim that science is not “scientifically objective”. Since he is working from a false premise, all sort of nonsense follows. GIGO. His premise will not be supportable in court.

your reference to lysenkoism pretty much hit what i was aiming for.

the decision by any school board to teach science only in science class is exactly the opposite of the lysenkoist style of “official decisionmaking” that is implied by Conservativeman. In fact, if we had the exact reverse situation, that is we taught religion in science class, THEN he could more clearly argue there is no scientific basis for making that kind of policy decision. oh wait… that’s what we DO have now in Kansas.

an a side note, i think this relates right back to the argument we had with Balter about the “value” of teaching ID in high school science class.

maybe it’s time to track down the entire history of research into the optimal structure of science curricula in K-12? I’m pretty sure there exist several studies, but they were done a while back. I’m sure a quick glance at the national science standards would give references.

http://www.nsta.org/standards

I’ve only seen bits and pieces myself of actual research, lots of anecdotal evidence, and my own observations of what happens when you actually DO include religious discussion in science class (hint: it leads to mass confusion and eventual requests that the whole subject be dropped and we move on from just about every student, and it ends up wasting at least a whole day, if not more).

perhaps total overkill, but if a few cites supporting the reasons for teaching science only in science class could be shown to “conservativeman”, or just attached to discussions of this nature on a regular basis, it could only help.

Sometimes I wonder if sites such as this one haven’t done more escalate the culture wars and promote ID than Behe and Dembski between them could hope to accomplish in several lifetimes. Why the bother, folks? This is America, where if science has instrumental social value it is to generate a profit or competitive advantage internationally. Once it becomes obvious ID cannot produce any useful results investment will flee in the opposite direction and its propaganda victories become strategic disasters — for religion as well as ID. And if you’re one of those anxious Christians that resents naturalism or materialism or other nonsensism how will you feel then? ID is your worst enemy. It will only serve to strengthen the intellectual status of evolution. Bad ideas are good that way.

Why the bother, folks? This is America, where if science has instrumental social value it is to generate a profit or competitive advantage internationally. Once it becomes obvious ID cannot produce any useful results investment will flee in the opposite direction and its propaganda victories become strategic disasters — for religion as well as ID

leaving aside the rather ridiculous premise of your opening statement, the part of your argument quoted above is kind of negated by the numbers of school boards like that in Kansas and Dover that DID adopt such standards.

are you personally willing to suffer an entire class of students taught under such poor standards? would you sacrifice those kids educations cause it’s “no bother”?

Excellent post Jack.

And we should thank Conservativeman for reciting the script in such a concise manner.

The problem is that an “Evolution Only,” policy is not really scientific or constitutional. It is not scientific because it is officially biased rather than scientifically objective.

Indeed, decisions are made to teach the contemporary consensus understanding of various phenomena rather than present the pet “theories” of every crank walking the earth (e.g., AIDS deniers, holocaust deniers, evolution deniers, psychics, Talibani, etc.). The overwhelming consensus understanding of the history of life on earth is that life evolved. That is an objective fact. The overwhelming consensus of scientists is that “intelligent design” is creationist apologetics garbage that is utterly impotent as a scientific theory.

Because it is biased, it is not religiously neutral.

Teaching that life on earth evolved is not biased for or against religion, as described above. It’s biased only towards teaching the objective fact that the earth’s scientists understand that life on earth evolved, just as they understand that the sun goes around the earth and that you can’t measure the weight of a human soul. The bias reflects the interest that educators have in teaching children as much about what contemporary scientists understand as possible in the short time periods allotted. In contrast, introducing the religious claims of local parents and their preachers as “competing alternate theories” distorts reality in a way that is truly biased – biased against science, biased against the objective truth of what the current consensus of scientists is, and bias towards selected deistic religious beliefs.

Evolution Only effectively requires our children to “know” that we come from a natural rather than an intelligent cause, that we are occurrences and not designs, and that we naturally arise without purpose from a purposeless process.

Nope. “Evolution Only” merely asks that your children be exposed to the consensus understanding of scientists about how life on earth evolved, which is that life evolved without any detectable influence from a mysterious group of microbe-fetishizing alien beings.

Given the choice between lecturing kids in public school biology class about the mitochondrion and how it works, versus teaching kids that scientists can not rule out the possibility that mysterious alien beings might have created the universe, human beings, and all our memories “as is” ten minutes ago, I think the mitochondrion is more useful. At least, it’s more useful if we care about understanding and curing mitochondrial diseases.

It effectively teaches that no rational evidentiary basis exists for theistic beliefs.

Who can know what this guy means by “theistic belief”. Suffice it to say that “Evolution Only” doesn’t do what he claims anymore than teaching that bushes don’t talk undermines Christianity.

But the alleged lack of evidence for certain Bible-based beliefs would be a necessary and fun little controversy to explore in a Bible study class, I think. Namely, which Bible stories do we have evidentiary basis for and which ones are just too weird to believe? And how many different contradictions can we find in the Bible? Which religion allows you to have the most fun on earth and still live in paradise afterwards?

Evolution Only converts these scientific claims into dogmas that are the fundamental tenets of non-theistic religions and that directly contradict the fundamental tenets of theistic religions.

What in heck is a non-theistic religion? And news flash: the scientists can’t help it if someone’s religion has a “fundamental tenet” that either contradicts or has no relationship whatsoever to their consensus understanding of a phenomenon which they’ve collected data on for centuries. This is especially true on earth where the collected “fundamental tenets” of the world’s religions tend to evolve at least as fast as most living things.

Accordingly, in my opinion, Evolution Only is not “secular” or neutral. Rather it is an ideology that directly conflicts with the First Amendment rights of parents and students.

You’re entitled to your opinion, Conservativeman. Unfortunately for you, your arguments in support of your opinion are weak or incomprehensible. What’s most surprising is that you haven’t figured that out by now. Or perhaps you have and it doesn’t matter to you.

However, he starts with the claim that science is not “scientifically objective”.

No, he didn’t start with that claim, he started with the claim that “Evolution only” policy is not really scientific. I noted above that the correct response is to point out that there is no such policy – any more than there’s a “Big Bang only” policy or a “Newtonian and Einsteinian and Quantum physics only” policy. Rather, there’s a “science only” policy, which is why evolution is included and creationism isn’t.

Given the choice between lecturing kids in public school biology class about the mitochondrion and how it works, versus teaching kids that scientists can not rule out the possibility that mysterious alien beings might have created the universe, human beings, and all our memories “as is” ten minutes ago, I think the mitochondrion is more useful. At least, it’s more useful if we care about understanding and curing mitochondrial diseases.

unfortunately, there are many who disagree with your quite reasonable choice, and would rather think it more important to teach that mousetraps are good examples of “irreducible complexity”.

the way the standards are now in Kansas, each school district can make their own choice as to what is important. I will be curious to see what choices they make, myself.

Sometimes I wonder if sites such as this one haven’t done more escalate the culture wars and promote ID than Behe and Dembski between them could hope to accomplish in several lifetimes. Why the bother, folks?

Personally, I have no problem with escalating the culture wars. The sooner we go head to head with the fundies on their issues, the better.

As to the possibility of this site promoting ID, that is absurd.

Yeah, from time to time you’ll get some clown popping up saying, “Oh, that guy morbius and Lenny Flank are the nastiest anti-religion bullies that’s why I’ll never be convinced that evolution is real.”

Don’t believe it. You can rest assured that thousands of people have learned from this site and others like it exactly why ID peddlers are disproportionately represented among the most pathetic and dishonest human beings on the planet.

And that will only increase. Even the world’s laziest journalists will figure it out eventually, when they get tired of everday people pointing out their lazy shilling.

What in heck is a non-theistic religion?

a non-theistic

Don’t believe it. You can rest assured that thousands of people have learned from this site and others like it exactly why ID peddlers are disproportionately represented among the most pathetic and dishonest human beings on the planet.

in support of the above, note the award on the front page.

there are many who disagree with your quite reasonable choice, and would rather think it more important to teach that mousetraps are good examples of “irreducible complexity”

Perhaps those who think that mousetraps are good examples of “irreducible complexity” would like to explain to me how they can know all the possible functions of a given protein.

Perhaps they could explain that to me over the phone.

You know, when I call them up and ask them about what it is they are teaching.

That’s after I hand out literature about Howard Ahmonsen and Rushdoony and the liars at the Discovery Institute to parents and kids at school board meetings, at student/parent open houses, and at the Burger King across the street from the school during lunch hour.

And I’ll just be getting started then.

go, man go!

“are you personally willing to suffer an entire class of students taught under such poor standards?”

Oh come one, of all the useless crap that’s taught in high school and that high school students forget soon after (to their enormous credit) a lesson in ultimate origins in grade nine biology is at the bottom of my list of things that pose a danger to our precious children’s future. No one in this day and age interested in biology is going to be deprived or damaged by passing mention of theology somewhere in a high school in Piousville Kansas, nor someone interested in theology by passing mention — and that is all it is — of evolution. Let’s be real. An overwhelming number of people are not biologists, never meant to be biologists, and if they believe in evolution it’s just a cultural badge of merit that they wear because they certainly can’t defend it, a situation indistinguishable from not believing in it at all. I submit to you those people would have been better served in high school to learn car repair instead. I mean, as long as you’re thinking of the children. Sheesh.

right, if you feel warranted in ignoring ALL of the arguments involved in the actual substantive discussion of the issue, feel free to voice your opinion, but don’t expect any constructive response to it.

feel free to address the fears of real parents with the same complacent attitude you show here, like Judy who just today posted the following in a different thread:

Hi,

I apologize for posting off-topic but I was wondering whether anybody here could help me. My husband and I live in Indiana where, as you may have heard, the Republican led legislature is considering bringing forward legislation that would mandate the teaching of ID in public schools. I’ve written to the NCSE to ask for their advice and a friend suggested that this would also be a good place to request help. What can we do to organize opposition to this legislation? I’ve looked to see if there is a Citizens for Science group in Indiana, but there doesn’t appear to be one. We really don’t know what we’re doing; we just know we have to do something. We simply can’t sit by and let our educational system be hijacked. Any and all advice and/or suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanking you in advance,

Judy Kemp Fishers, IN

yes, do feel free to trivialize everyone’s legitimate concerns with your rapier wit, that perhaps would go better with those you deem fit for jobs in “car repair”.

guess you never tried to go to college yourself, eh?

I think the real problem is that the fundie folk are trying to use science to prove their supernatural claims. Just think of the old “lost neutrinos” problem. They tried to cite it as evidence for a young earth. How many times do they try and cite science to attempt to prove their supernatural claims? Then, they turn around and reject the very science they tried to abuse when the FACTS contradicts them, or they try and DICTATE what science is, to fit their views. You people are right. Evolution is the target because it poses the BIGGEST threat of all the scientific theories to their world view.

We have all seen what the fundies do. They misquote, twist and rape scientific data, all just to attempt to find proof of their supernatural claims. It’s been a very empty journey for them.

I am starting to feel really sorry for these people. To be so morally poor that one needs to stoop to such low morality, to lie and cheat, bite and scratch, all to try and maintain some belief in ones own higher morality… it’s sad. It all smacks of desperation. And that’s the whole point. I am not a psychologist, but I can see insecurity when it is so blatantly obvious. Insecure and desperate! It’s no wonder we cannot understand the lengths the fundies will go to, all just to peddle their religious views. I think they are really trying hard to convince themselves. It must be really hard to believe contrary to evidence.

English is not my home language, so please excuse the spelling and grammar.

English is not my home language, so please excuse the spelling and grammar.

Actually, your spelling and grammar is flawlessly superb. The only hint – ironically – is that we would say “native language”, not “home language”. :-)

Native. Got it! Thanks.

“No one in this day and age interested in biology is going to be deprived or damaged by passing mention of theology somewhere in a high school in Piousville Kansas, nor someone interested in theology by passing mention — and that is all it is — of evolution. Let’s be real. An overwhelming number of people are not biologists, never meant to be biologists, and if they believe in evolution it’s just a cultural badge of merit that they wear because they certainly can’t defend it, a situation indistinguishable from not believing in it at all.”

It is this attitude that has created a scientifically illiterate society. All students should learn what science is and how it works, whether or not they retain any biology (or any other subject content) along the way. I don’t expect students to remember details years from now, but I do expect them to understand and appreciate how the discipline works and that theories in science have by definition a huge body of knowledge supporting them.

Does DNA fingerprinting work with identical twins? Enough of these hypothetical questions; head explosion imminent!

Does DNA fingerprinting work with identical twins?

They both have the same DNA. Unless they are not really identical twins but conjoined fraternal twins. But then, would not their immune systems recognize each other’s cells as “foreign” and try to destroy them?

Where’s Solomon when you need him?

Conjoined twins are invariably identical, so, one child has two mothers.

Quick question. Do identical twins have the same fingerprint? If not; where does the fingerprint “design” (ugh! couldn’t rhink of a better word) come from?

Quick answer: Yes. The DNA is identical.

No, I think Stephen is referring to finger fingerprints, not DNA fingerprints.

IIRC, fingerprints aren’t genetically determined, so I’d doubt that identical twins have the same fingerprints.

Anyone know anything more?

Well, turns out that we weren’t the first ones to wonder, after all:

http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a980821.html

TY Lenny, seems very similar to info at this site. http://multiples.about.com/cs/funfa[…]gerprint.htm Difference being; this deals with identical twins. Can’t imagine quintuplets being identical. Hard to envision a human “egg” splitting into 5. Don’t suppose it is impossible though.

BTW. Used the quote, cos I don’t know how to do the blue writing link.

BTW. Used the quote, cos I don’t know how to do the blue writing link.

Oh! My bad…it worked through sheer luck.

It’s automatic – anything that starts with http gets transformed into a link. :>

Comment # 58757

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank Wrote:

Comment #58757 Posted by ‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank on November 18, 2005 07:01 PM (e) (s) … (scratches head) If someone were to marry one of them, would he be guilty of bigamy? Sorry, just thinking out loud.

Actually that is interesting Lenny. Some of the laws these christian fundamental homophobic biggets are trying to bring in to “preserve the sanctity of marriage” from being corrupted by gay marriages will have far reaching effect. This is because of the way they are trying to define “Male” and “Female” to stop trans-gender people from also getting married. They are narrowing down the definition to chromosomal base on X& Y chromosomes. The problem is about 1 in 500 people have abnormalities with their sex chromosome that could render their marriage illegal under the proposed laws. I personally know a male with Klinefelter syndrome. By the definitions that some of these laws take he is neither male or female and would not be allowed to get married. Like wise XY females would be forced to stay single.

So the fundies would have to pass the equivilent of the Nuremburg Laws, to decide who is and who isn’t, eh?

Lenny, I my view.…Yes. They are trying to define people they do not like as 2nd class citizens that are not worthy of the same rights they enjoy. People like Neurode (spelling) are all for this type of tactic. He’ll make claims that he has “gay friends” but I wonder how much these friends of his consider him the same if they knew how much of their rights he would gladly take away from them.

I joined the USMC because I feel strongly about what our founding fathers set up. All people are equal and deserve the same rights. Not just people that share a narrow view of a few religious biggits. When we start making specialized laws to restrict certain types of people then we are going down the road that will completely destroy what America stands for in my eyes. Bush and his political team make me sick from the torturing and killing of people to try to get confessions to the twisting and passing of laws that by pass the checks and balances and transparency that should make our legal system a model for the world. They don’t recognize human rights and due process and it makes me sick.

If it gets to the point where the US political system acts to much like the Nazi party then I would not hesitate to join others and rise up to protect that which made America great. I hope that the Judicial branch will keep this from happening. I would love for our system to self correct instead of requiring a new revolution.

I wonder what makes a person fundamentalist. Those Nazis trying to pass themselves off as Christian make my blood run cold. I am starting to think that they have pretty reprehensible views in the first place; then twist the words of the Bible to suit their personal opinion.

Now might be a good time to remind everyone just what the fundie agenda is, if they ever get real political power. They make no secret of it:

http://www.geocities.com/lflank/fundies.htm

Wayne,

That’s “bigot”, not “biggit”. :) Just FYI. And I agree with your postings. Damn right-wingers.

Leon, Thank you guess I should spell check things more.

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This page contains a single entry by Jack Krebs published on November 14, 2005 11:28 PM.

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