January 29, 2006 - February 4, 2006 Archives

Tara Smith Speaks

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Thumb contributor and blogger Tara Smith interviewd on UTI.

Despite the lip service paid to making this country “safer” in the aftermath of 9/11, the measures put in place show that protection of our health has become almost exclusively a political issue, and the science is again being ignored.

RBH

On January 28, 2006 Kansas Citizens for Science and the National Center for Science Education sponsored “Intelligent Design, Kansas Science Education, and the Law” at the Dole Institute of Politics in Lawrence, Kansas.

Featured speakers were three of the attorneys for the plaintiffs in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case: Eric Rothschild and Steve Harvey of Pepper Hamilton LLP and Richard Katskee of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Other speakers were Jack Krebs, president of Kansas Citizens for Science, Dr. Steve Case, co-chair of the Kansas science standards writing committee, and moderator Dr. Eugenie Scott, Executive Director of the National Center of Science Education. Special guest Pedro Irigonegarary, representative for mainstream science at the Kansas Board of Education “Science Hearings” in May 2005, also spoke.

There were two themes of the forum. One was that the decision in the Dover case clearly showed that the Intelligent Design movement was the latest incarnation of creationism: Intelligent Design is not science but rather a disguise for religiously-based creationist beliefs. Thus the Dover school district policy was declared unconstitutional.

The second theme was that if the Kansas science standards were held to the same criteria and scrutiny as the Dover policy, the Kansas science standards would also be unconstitutional. ID movement leaders claim that the Dover criteria would not apply to the Kansas science standards because the standards merely “teach the controversy” without teaching ID. However, if the history and context of the standards are examined, this claim is shown to be false.

The presentations were educational, engaging, and consistently to the point . You can now listen yourself to all or part of the speeches and the question and answers session with the panelists. Audio files in mp3 format as well as other information can be found *** here *** at “ID, Science Education and the Law” on the Kansas Citizens for Science discussion forums.

This was a very interesting, timely, and relevant event, and we invite you all to share it with us. We look forward to your comments, either here or on our discussion forum.

Thanks,

Jack Krebs President, Kansas Citizens for Science

Calling all Brits

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UPDATE: I just found out this event has been cancelled at the last minute. So don’t come. I will, however, still be around all week and attending other Darwin Day events until the 11th.

I just wanted to let PT readers across the pond in England know that I am zipping over there for a Darwin Day talk this coming Sunday, February 5th, in Shrewsbury. The details are here, and used to be here but have been dropped for some reason. Actually, I am speaking a week before Darwin Day, and they appear to have a whole series of events planned.

Naturally, I will be talking about the Kitzmiller case and in particular how we discovered the “smoking gun” tying ID to creation science. Following my talk will be a, um, unique musical event (see description).

Ohio Governor Taft Now Opposes ID

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Cleveland Plain Dealer Story Update

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has the story now, and has a stronger quote from Governor Taft:

“I think we ought to be teaching evolution,” Taft said. “I think intelligent design should not be part of the standards and should not be tested. I want to know what their views are before I decide whether to reappoint them.”

Taft also said he was chagrined by the tone of the January board meeting, which included personal attacks between board members.

In one instance, two board members read the newspaper as members of the public testified about the science standards.

”That’s not a good way to do business,” Taft said.

The money phrase here is “… intelligent design should not be part of the standards …”. It is the “critically analyze” standard that is the gateway through which the intelligent design creationist pseudo-science was wedged into the model curriculum.

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Original Entry

In an exclusive story in the February 3, 2006, Columbus Dispatch, Ohio Governor Bob Taft is reported to have said that he doesn’t think intelligent design should be taught in Ohio schools. According to the story, Taft doesn’t think the standards include intelligent design, but he called for “… a legal review of the companion lesson plan to ensure that Ohio is not vulnerable to a lawsuit”.

Taft also said he would question potential appointees to the Board more closely on the issue.

“There were cases in which I didn’t ask the right questions, in some cases where I supported someone for election or appointment,” Taft said this week when asked about the issue during a meeting with Dispatch editors and reporters.

”I’ll be asking that question now, I can assure you.”

Unfortunately, Taft wouldn’t elaborate on what he would consider a satisfactory answer. Taft will appoint four members to the Ohio State Board of Education before his term expires in early 2007. The four current occupants of those appointments all voted in favor of the ID-originated standard for 10th grade biology and for inclusion of the ID creationist model lesson plan when a motion to delete it was defeated in 2004. One changed his vote in the recent narrow vote (9-8) to retain it.

This is a reversal for a Governor whose chief of staff when the science standards were being considered, Brian Hicks, lobbied the Governor’s appointees on the Ohio Board of Education to support an ID-based science standard, benchmark, and model lesson plan. (Hicks’ emails were made public during another scandal in Ohio, “Coingate“.) In every OBOE vote on the standards, benchmarks and model curriculum, the Governor’s appointees obediently voted as a block to support the ID-based material with the recent exception noted above.

Ohio ID supporters publicly boasted about the Governor’s role in the process of developing tainted standards. In November 2003, Robert Lattimer, a prominent Ohio ID creationist, described the background for Taft’s earlier support

Our Governor is a moderate Republican. He was up for election last fall. He had done a couple of things that angered conservative voters, and he knew he needed conservative voters to win the election.

Witness for the Defense

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Steve Fuller was one of the witnesses for the defense and many may have wondered why he was included. Fuller’s opinions on Intelligent Design seem quite straightforward

Fuller Wrote:

Trials over the teaching of creationism — and now intelligent design theory — can draw on two different criteria for defining science: one based on motive and the other based on method. The difference matters, even though so far creationism and ID have largely failed to meet either of them.

In other words, it seems that Fuller agrees that ID has failed to meet the criteria for science whether based on motive or method.

Michael Ruse on Intelligent Design

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Could Ruse be any clearer about his position on Intelligent Design?

Ruse Wrote:

Do you think there is anything at all to the intelligent design argument from irreducible complexity?

No. I think it’s “creationism lite” tarted up to look like science to get around the constitutional separation of church and state.

Leading ID theorists say that all they want to do is teach science, not philosophy or theology. Do you take them at their word?

Not really, but the point is, I just don’t think you can teach ID just as science. I don’t think it is science. It would be like saying, “All I want to do is look at naked women. There’s nothing to do with sex about it, understand?” Yeah, right.

Michael Ruse: Darwinist talks with Points about ID and evolution in the classroom

Tangled Bank #46

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The Tangled Bank

The Tangled Bank has grown so huge that apparently we now need a whole polytechnic university to handle it. Appropriately enough, I'm not on the academic faculty—I'm down in the health services clinic, checking out genitals.

Here's a fascinating glimpse of history for those involved in the creation wars: the Seattle Weekly has published scans of the original Wedge document from the Discovery Institute. Now you too can see it in it's original cheap-ass photocopied glory, and also learn who leaked the documents…two people to whom we owe a debt of gratitude.

Continue reading "The True History of the Wedge" (on Pharyngula)


I much prefer reading these things as pdfs, so I've converted it. Here you go, download your very own copy of the Wedge document (540KB pdf).

That expression could describe South Carolina state Senator Mike Fair and Governor Mark Sanford. It is somehow more fitting than “peas in a pod”. As I reported previously (here and here), the curriculum standards dealing with evolution are under assault in SC by Sen. Fair, who is being coached behind the scenes by the Discovery Institute. But now Gov. Sanford has thrown his hat in the ring for the side of ID, and in the process, has managed to demonstrate exactly why politicians should quit trying to second-guess scientists: He has no clue what he’s talking about.

The newly formed South Carolinians for Science Education has transcripts up of an interview Sanford did for a local TV station. They even have the audio, if you’re one of those who likes to have a voice to associate with crazy statements. (If you’re a SC resident, please register and/or get on the mailing list while you’re at the site; official means of joining will be available in the near future.) Below the fold I’ve reproduced the relevant portion of Sanford’s interview, and included some discussion.

We're getting signs that the Discovery Institute is going to be shifting their strategy a little bit.

Thoughts from Kansas has an excellent discussion of the subject. Basically, they're going to embrace more of the actual science, and focus their dispute on finer and finer points. What does this mean? Common descent is now in.

Intelligent Design belittles God,

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Catholic Online has published an article in which the director of the Vatican Observatory, Jesuit Father George V. Coyne speaks out, once again, against the perils of intelligent design.

Father Coyne observes that

Intelligent Design reduces and belittles God’s power and might, according to the director of the Vatican Observatory.

But Father Coyne goes much further

Luskin still doesn’t get it

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I wrote up a critique of an article DI mouthpiece Casey Luskin wrote regarding avian influenza back in October. I don’t know whether Luskin ever read my post; at the time, trackbacks to the DI site weren’t working. But I’d guess I’m not the only one who pointed out the abundant mistakes in his article, which advanced the thesis that avian influenza wasn’t a good example of evolution. He has since written a response to critics here (warning: .pdf file), correcting one of his errors in the original article (and making a confusing mess out of things).

Luskin’s original thesis was that H5N1 wasn’t a good example of evolution because, he claimed, it was simply a reassortant virus: an avian-human hybrid. Therefore, the “evolution” was not any “new information,” but simply a move of information that already existed. Only, of course, the H5N1 strain circulating *isn’t* a reassortant virus: it’s a pure avian virus. You might think that this tidbit of information would shoot down Luskin’s whole thesis, but no, he struggles on.

(Continue reading at Aetiology)

Break the vertebrate hegemony!

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Octopus

If you appreciate biodiversity and want to read about organisms other than pet cats, and if you aren't too squeamish about spiky creatures with crunchy carapaces of squishy ones encapsulated in slime, the latest Circus of the Spineless is just the thing for you. Browse the thumbnails at Pharyngula, and follow through to the critter that appeals to you most. I thought the snail armored in iron sulfide was spectacular, but the mantispids are pretty neat, too, and I'll always have a soft spot for the squid. Oh, and the strange pram bugs that occupy salp tests…never mind, you need to read them all.

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