Cobb: Evolution case turns to petitions

| 69 Comments

The AJC has some more information about the latest happenings in the Selman case: Evolution case turns to petitions.

When asked in a telephone interview Wednesday if he thought the March 2002 petitions ever existed, [Cobb County School District’s lawyer] Gunn said, “I have my doubts.”

But on March 28, 2002, the day the school board adopted the stickers, Rogers told the board she had collected signatures from 2,300 people who were dissatisfied with science texts that espoused “Darwinism unchallenged,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the following day.

A few days later, a Journal-Constitution reporter examined the petitions at the Cobb school system offices and took notes on names and phone numbers of some of the people who had signed.

On Wednesday, Gunn said Cobb school board spokesman Jay Dillon does not believe that ever happened.

In an article published April 14, 2002, the Journal-Constitution again reported that the school board had agreed to insert the stickers inside science texts in response to pressure from several dozen parents who criticized the teaching of evolution. The article said the parents had presented petitions with 2,000 names of county residents who demanded accuracy in textbooks. The Cobb school board did not challenge the existence of the petitions at that time.

Bramlett said Wednesday he believes the petitions were given to the board in March 2002 and thinks the record supports Cooper’s finding that it occurred.

“The trial court heard the testimony,” Bramlett said of Cooper. “The trial court was there. That’s the reason in our legal system that the trial judge’s fact finding is entitled to deference by the appellate courts.”

69 Comments

Dullard judge Carnes: can someone tell hime evolution is both Theory and fact, and help him with the hard stuff?

“The court gives two bases for its findings and they’re absolutely wrong,” Judge Ed Carnes told Atlanta American Civil Liberties Union attorney Jeffrey Bramlett, who was arguing on behalf of five parents who sued the school board to get the stickers removed.

In one instance, Judge Ed Carnes of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals told Bramlett that there was likely nothing wrong with the statement on the sticker in the question.

“I don’t think you all can contest any of the sentences,” he said, according to AP.

The issue at stake was whether or not the school board had a religious purpose for using the business card-sized stickers on the inside covers of the science textbooks.

The stickers state that evolution “is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. The material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.”

“It is a theory, not a fact; the book supports that,” Carnes said.

from: http://www.christianpost.com/articl[…].trial/1.htm

Why are the petitions an issue here, Reed? Is the school board now arguing that they were not creationist inspired? Or is the board now arguing that they acted on their own, without creationist pressure?

Is it just that the one judge seemd to get bugged about the petitions?

I’m missing the signficance. I’m sure it’s something very simple, but I still don’t see it.

The petition is an issue because Judge Cooper used it to help show that the board bowed to religious pressure. However, something happened at trial or to the record after it, and the lawyers can’t find copies of the March petition. It may be because the petition was common knowledge and was mentioned in lots of testimony that it never got introduced into the record or may have been lossed in the record.

Given this error in the record, the board’s attorney has now taken to deny the existance of the petition, despite the clear statements by Rodgers that it did exist and it was presented to the board before the sticker was voted on.

“the board’s attorney has now taken to deny the existance of the petition”

Does this mean he goes ro jail if its found?

I smell conspiracy.

No. He’s just doing a legitimate lawyer trick. The trial record will most likely indicate that the petitions existed and were entered into evidence and were understood and discussed by all parties to the extent they wished to do so.

How come this Rogers lady is so quiet all of a sudden?

“The stickers state that evolution “is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. The material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.””

Was it ever pointed out in court that Evolution says absolutely nothing about the origin of living things?

“It is a theory, not a fact; the book supports that,” Carnes said.

As I recall, the book says something plainly different.

We’ll see if Carnes “gets it” eventually.

Ed-

The way I read the whole missing petitions issue is that the appeals court seemed to be expecting that copies of the petitions entered into evidence.

I’m worried the appeals court will invalidate the lower court decision based upon the absence of this evidence, since the lower court decision used testimony about the petitions as part of its logic in building the argument that the sticker proponents were religiously motivated.

I’m not a lawyer, but that’s my read on where this is headed…

Comment #68130 Posted by Bob Maurus on January 5, 2006 09:44 PM

“The stickers state that evolution “is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. The material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.””

Was it ever pointed out in court that Evolution says absolutely nothing about the origin of living things?

“Species,” “living things,” what’s the difference ? I doubt that the court would consider such a nitpicking distinction in the choice of words. Anyway, if that mischoice of words is the only problem that the court finds with the stickers, then the court could just ask that the wording be changed. I think that the important thing is that the stickers made it clear that they are referring to the theory of evolution in the textbooks.

I think that when referring to abiogenesis, the term “origin of life” is often used.

Comment #68131 posted by Registered User on January 5, 2006 09:44 PM

“It is a theory, not a fact; the book supports that,” Carnes said.

As I recall, the book says something plainly different.

We’ll see if Carnes “gets it” eventually.

Until it is called the Law of Evolution rather than the Theory of Evolution, we may be stuck with Judge Carnes’ above statement.

Posted by Larry Fafarman on January 6, 2006 06:31 PM (e) (s)

… Until it is called the Law of Evolution rather than the Theory of Evolution, we may be stuck with Judge Carnes’ above statement.

What is the difference between a law and a theory in science Larry? When you find that out you will realise that the TOE is never likely to be a law.

You are aware that a theory covers much more subject matter than a law right?

Syntax Error: mismatched tag at line 7, column 128, byte 483 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.12.3/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187

Are you still on about Laws? It’s so utterly irrelevant. It’s never going to be called the Law of Evolution, and it wouldn’t rest on any more solid basis of evidence if it were so called. Laws are expressions of deep regularities in the universe, but they don’t really explain anything.

Theories unify knowledge, by organizing and explaining large numbers of diverse facts from various (related) fields of inquiry. Theories can be thought of as “bundles” of linked hypotheses (largely proven) that, in turn, generate more (untested) hypotheses. That process, of generating hypotheses within a theoretical framework and then testing them, and, by extension, the theory, by empirical observation and experimentation? That’s called science, Larry. It needs theories, but, honestly, it could do without laws. The fact that the process has uncovered a few is all to the good, but it doesn’t cast doubt on those areas of inquiry that have not done so.

“Species,” “living things,” what’s the difference ?

PLEASE! can we get rid of Larry now?

he is not amusing. I find i’m starting to feel sorry for him, and I don’t like it.

aside from the fact that he hijacks EVERY thread he gets his grubby paws into.

enough already!

STJ, are you in England? If so do you plan to go to the Steve Fuller talk on the 25th?

And on the larry subject, he has gotten some very fine schooling and lessons here on a variety of subjects. It’s unfortunate he cannot grasp or make use of any of it.

nope, out here in the desert SW, CA.

and still thinking of moving to NZ.

I’m running out of reasons not to; the Kitzmas present we all received notwithstanding.

Well I wonder how I came to believe you were in the UK. No worries…

Speaking of CA looks like a social studies teacher who is also the wife of an Assembly of God pastor will be teaching IDC near Bakersfield.

http://www.kesq.com/Global/story.as[…]amp;nav=9qrx

Is that the same person who invited Francis Crick to be a speaker?

Well I wonder how I came to believe you were in the UK

i take it as a compliment that folks confuse my locale.

in this case, perhaps it’s because I often end messages with

cheers

Mr Christopher - I’m in the UK as is Steve Elliot - where is Fuller speaking on the 25th??

Comment #68054 posted by Reed A. Cartwright on January 5, 2006 06:01 PM

The petition is an issue because Judge Cooper used it to help show that the board bowed to religious pressure.

However, Judge Cooper clearly stated that the petitions did not influence his decision – http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/cob[…]-v-cobb.html

“.…..the Court does not rely on communications from these individuals[i.e., the petitioners], who apparently sought to advance religion, to determine whether the School Board itself sought to endorse or advance religion when it voted to place the Sticker in science textbooks. See Adler, 206 F.3d at 1086 (stating that courts should not discern legislative purpose from letters written by community members to school officials).”

Furthermore, the petition promoted the following purpose (shown in bold), which Judge Cooper considered to be a valid secular purpose – “Second, by presenting evolution in a manner that is not unnecessarily hostile, the sticker reduces offense to students and parents whose beliefs may conflict with the teaching of evolution. For the foregoing reasons, the Court concludes that the Sticker satisfies the first prong of the Lemon analysis.”

Furthermore, as indicated above, Judge Cooper ruled that the textbook stickers passed the first prong – the “purpose” test – of the Lemon test. The decision to ban the stickers was based solely on a finding that the stickers failed the second prong, the “effects” test.

It appears that the strategy of the plaintiffs’ attorney is the following — in case the appeals court reverses the district court ruling that the stickers failed the second prong, he is hoping to convince the appeals court that the stickers should fail the first prong because of the alleged petition. But to do that, the plaintiffs’ attorney must now – (1) prove that the alleged petition actually existed and had valid signatures and that it was presented to the school board prior to the decision to adopt the stickers; (2) prove that a significant number of the petition’s signers were motivated by religion; and (3) overrule Judge Cooper’s above ruling – supported by precedent – that the petition could not be a factor in the decision. Personally, I feel that considering the petition to be a factor would be going too far. Making the petition a factor would in effect be saying that an idea is religious just because some people support that idea for religious reasons. And I think that the defendants and the defendants’ attorneys are behaving particularly foolishly if they are lying by denying that the petition ever existed, because it appears that the plaintiffs’ attorney has an uphill battle to try to make the petition a factor in the case.

Scary Larry

===================================== I’m from Missouri. You’ll have to show me. —– Willard Duncan Vandiver

Well, there is a Theory of Music.

So, when will music books in schools get a sticker that says

Music is a Theory, not a Fact…

Dave

how’s this for a textbook title for a theory of music class:

a Muses Musings on Music and Musicology

Comment #68428 Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 6, 2006 06:38 PM

Posted by Larry Fafarman on January 6, 2006 06:31 PM *****Until it is called the Law of Evolution rather than the Theory of Evolution, we may be stuck with Judge Carnes’ above statement.****

What is the difference between a law and a theory in science Larry? When you find that out you will realise that the TOE is never likely to be a law.

You are aware that a theory covers much more subject matter than a law right?

Comment #68432 Posted by CJ O’Brien on January 6, 2006 06:44 PM

Are you still on about Laws? It’s so utterly irrelevant. It’s never going to be called the Law of Evolution, and it wouldn’t rest on any more solid basis of evidence if it were so called. Laws are expressions of deep regularities in the universe, but they don’t really explain anything.

It [science] needs theories, but, honestly, it could do without laws.

OK, but there are some areas of science that have both theories and a law (or laws) — e.g., gravity. There is the law of gravity (Newton’s law of universal gravitation) and various theories of gravity – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravity. But there is nothing called the “law of evolution.” Even micro-evolution, which we know to be a fact, is not called the “law of micro-evolution.” So how does something qualify to be a scientific law? Does it have to be expressible mathematically? Most scientific laws are in fact expressible mathematically, as in the following list of scientific laws http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o[…]entific_laws However, some laws are often not expressed in mathematical terms, e.g., the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which is often stated in the following way – “it is impossible to construct an engine which, operating in a cycle, does nothing but draw heat from one source and perform an equivalent amount of work.” However, entropy, which is a physical property of matter associated with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, does appear in mathematical expressions.

Anyway, back to the present subject– Judge Carnes’ statement to the plaintiffs’ attorney, “I don’t think you all can contest any of the sentences [on the textbook sticker]. It is a theory, not a fact; the book supports that.” There have been some objections to this statement on the grounds that some of evolution theory, micro-evolution, is a known fact, and on the grounds that the circumstantial evidence of macro-evolution is a known fact. But macro-evolution per se is just a theory, so in regard to speaking of evolution science as a whole, the judge was not incorrect in saying that evolution is a theory and not a fact.

Also, it is not true that laws do not explain anything. Some laws are useful in explaining scientific concepts and phenomena, and some laws can be derived from scientific theories. Laws are not necessarily exclusive from theories.

As for saying that science can do without laws, I emphatically disagree. Many scientific laws have essential practical applications.

Scary Larry

================================== “I’m from Missouri. You’ll have to show me.” —- Willard Duncan Vandiver

However, some laws are often not expressed in mathematical terms, e.g., the Second Law of Thermodynamics

LOL

Larry Wrote:

OK, but there are some areas of science that have both theories and a law (or laws) —- e.g., gravity. … But there is nothing called the “law of evolution.” Even micro-evolution, which we know to be a fact, is not called the “law of micro-evolution.” So how does something qualify to be a scientific law? Does it have to be expressible mathematically?

A “law” of evolution has ben proposed by some people, but it suffers from not being law-like. I discussed the general problem here: O’Hara, R.B., 2005. The Anarchist’s Guide to Ecological Theory. Or, we don’t need no stinkin’ laws. Oikos 110: 390-393.

Although I was focussed on ecological theory, the same arguments apply to evolutionary biology.

Bob

How about this for to the sticker?:

“As the ‘Law of the Jungle’ is a Law, not a theory; it should be approached with a closed mind; repeated recklessly and applied uncritically.”

‘Sod’s Law’ says that the president is already putting the sticker in his copy of the constitution as we speak.…..

Comment #68490 Posted by Eugene Lai on January 6, 2006 10:05 PM

****However, some laws are often not expressed in mathematical terms, e.g., the Second Law of Thermodynamics*****

LOL

OK, let’s go over this again, moron.

Why are a lot of people here opposed to the textbook stickers? Is the stickers’ statement “evolution is a theory and not a fact” not a true statement? I say that if the statement is false – i.e., evolution is a fact – then we should have the law of evolution instead of the theory of evolution. I claim that one cannot take issue with that statement on the sticker unless one also agrees that evolution should be known as a law instead of a theory, but some people disagree with that. And I say, why shouldn’t it be known as the law of evolution? One of the factors I considered was whether a scientific law must be expressible in mathematical terms. Most scientific laws are, but then I noted that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is commonly expressed in qualitative terms, but also noted that some concepts of that law are expressed in mathematical terms. However, I have found some scientific ideas called “laws” that are never expressed in mathematical terms, e.g., Buys-Ballot’s Law of meteorology. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buys-Ballot%27s_law So if evolution is a known, proven fact, then it should be known as the law of evolution instead of the theory of evolution, even though evolution is not expressible in mathematical terms.

So again I ask, what is wrong with the statement on the stickers? Do the stickers not make a true statement? Are the stickers unconstitutional just because some people support them for religious reasons?

Scary Larry

OK, let’s go over this again, moron.

Most scientific laws are, but then I noted that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is commonly expressed in qualitative terms, but also noted that some concepts of that law are expressed in mathematical terms.

LOL. The Second Law Of Dealing With Morons is: DON’T ARGUE WITH ONE. It is not commonly expressed in mathematics. You can try prove this law wrong.

Comment #68631 Posted by gwanngung on January 7, 2006 08:00 PM

****Hey, you people who are continuing to discuss the law vs. theory thing and the wording of the stickers, you are not being fair.****

Translation: I am getting my ass whupped even worse than usual, to the point where even I have to admit it, so I’m advancing in another direction.

The thread starter’s threat to cut off this thread if off-topic posts continued was not an idle one. He already cut off another thread – without warning – for that reason.

I much prefer the America Online message boards, where any user can start a new thread. Unfortunately, there is a lot of censorship – most of it unwarranted – on the AOL message boards, too. The problem with the AOL message boards is that a lot of the time they have little or no activity on this subject.

Larry,

You may open all the threads you wish at After the Bar Closes (AtBC).

He already has…

let’s all try to ‘spot the next ‘alter big ego’

???

Here is something that should be easy to check out —

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article says — http://www.ajc.com/news/content/met[…]sticker.html

“In a six-page letter, Bramlett apologized for a “mis-citation” in his legal brief that compounded confusion among the court’s judges about the petitions. He also acknowledged that the only petitions entered into evidence in the case were submitted to the school board on Sept. 26, 2002 — six months after the board adopted the stickers, which called evolution ‘a theory, not a fact.’ “

– and –

“In his response, filed Tuesday, Gunn repeated his assertion that the trial record does not include a 2,300-signature petition submitted by Rogers, which was referred to in Cooper’s ruling. In fact, Gunn told the court, ‘I have never seen such a document.’ “

So one attorney says that the trial record includes the alleged petition (regardless of when it was submitted to the board), and another attorney says that it does not. Which is it?

Maybe the court should settle the questions about the petitions by just flipping a coin.

Looks like I am the only one who is still making substantial contributions to this thread. Other commenters are just making ad hominem attacks against me.

Comment #68045 posted by Ed Darrell on January 5, 2006 05:51 PM Why are the petitions an issue here, Reed?

See Comment #68630 of this thread. Also, the mere fact that there are discrepancies regarding the petition is enough to make it an issue, regardless of the petition’s bearing on the case.

Note: I am getting tired of referring to the petition as the “alleged petition” (I call it that because its existence has now been questioned). From now on, I will just call it “petition.”

Is the school board now arguing that they were not creationist inspired?

Even if the petition was creationist inspired, no one knows how many people signed it in support of creationism and/or religion. And what did the petition say? Even if the petition specifically mentioned creationism and/or religion (and that was not necessary and would have unnecessarily turned off some potential petition signers), some people might have signed it for reasons that were noncreationist and nonreligious.

Or is the board now arguing that they acted on their own, without creationist pressure?

Judge Cooper, citing precedent, expressly said that religion-based pressure on the board was not a factor in his test of the first (purpose) prong of the Lemon test. See Comment #68630 . The appeals court could overrule that decision, but I think that they would have to cite precedent to the contrary and/or argue that Cooper misinterpreted the precedent he cited. Also, there is the question of the extent to which the petition represented creationist or religion-based pressure (as I said, presumably some people signed the petition for reasons that were noncreationist and nonreligious).

These are some of the pitfalls of considering motives in establishment clause cases. Because of these pitfalls and for other reasons, I think that consideration of motives should be scrapped.

Is it just that the one judge seemed to get bugged about the petitions?

The vote and opinion of each judge or justice – whether on an appeals court panel on in the Supreme Court – is of critical importance. For example, whether there is a split in an appeals court decision (2-1 instead of 3-0) is a critical factor in the decision of the Supreme Court on whether to grant review — the Supreme Court accepts only about one-percent of appeals for review and anything that raises a red flag is of critical importance. Also, a dissenting judge (or justice) gets to write his/her own opinion.

There was nothing in the news reports as to how or whether the other two judges spoke about this issue at the hearing. Their silence – if they were silent – does not indicate disagreement with Judge Carnes. If they strongly disagreed with Judge Carnes, they should have spoken up. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article showed that there was good reason to be concerned about the petitions.

Scary Larry

Here is something that should be easy to check out —-

Translation: Fafarman is too lazy to check it out for himself, and wants someone else to do a Google search for him.

Comment #68758 Posted by Alexey Merz on January 8, 2006 02:10 PM

****Here is something that should be easy to check out —-****

Translation: Fafarman is too lazy to check it out for himself, and wants someone else to do a Google search for him.

How could I check it out myself? I asked whether or not the petition is actually in the court record. I have no access to the court record, so I cannot check that out.

No matter what I say here, someone will find some reason to attack me.

No matter what I say here, someone will find some reason to attack me.

Don’t flatter yourself, Larry. Nobody here gives a flying fig about you. (shrug)

Comment #69827 posted by ‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank on January 10, 2006 07:07 PM ****No matter what I say here, someone will find some reason to attack me.****

Don’t flatter yourself, Larry. Nobody here gives a flying fig about you.

See what I mean ?

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Reed A. Cartwright published on January 5, 2006 5:26 PM.

What a difference a molecule makes… was the previous entry in this blog.

And I just got a new irony-meter for Christmas… is the next entry in this blog.

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