It’s (Really, Really) Over in Dover


The final two nails in the coffin of “Intelligent Design” have been set up, and hammered in.

The new Dover board has scrapped the ID policy that started the whole flap, and the complete electoral defeat of pro- ID board members was finalized.

First, this AP Report about the January 3rd, 2006 meeting of new Dover area school board members announces that

Biology teacher Jennifer Miller had refused to read a statement about intelligent design before her lesson on evolution. Now, the policy that led to a landmark lawsuit will no longer be required in her school. The Dover Area School District’s policy of treating the concept as an alternative to evolution was officially relegated to the history books Tuesday night. Newly elected board members unanimously rescinded the policy on a voice vote and with no discussion beforehand. A judge ruled it unconstitutional two weeks earlier.

And there’s one more loose end to tie up - the resolution of new board member Bryan Rehm’s election, which had been contested by pro-ID member James Cashman. The Evening Sun reports that

The lingering crowd at the Dover Area School Board meeting cheered and clapped when Dover science teacher Rob Eshbach spread the word that Bryan Rehm won a seat on the school board.

Someone called Eshbach on a cell phone to say Rehm received 373 votes to James Cashman’s 280 during Tuesday’s special election in Dover Township. When combined with totals from other precincts recorded during the Nov. 8 election, Rehm’s total was 2,591 to Cashman’s 2,523.

Rehm was apprehensive about believing the news at first - considering the first election - but then settled into the idea of some sort of finality.

“I see this as a confirmation of what the original votes were,” he said.



Ok, here goes:

shortly after Jones’ decision, the new board went on record as saying they were considering covering the topic of ID in social studies class.

How does the current vote affect that previous statement?

are they still planning on teaching ID in social studies?

It would not be taught as a counter to evolution in SS class, presumably, and you could completely rescind the previous board’s policy and still attempt to teach ID in SS.

so… anybody know if there has been any update on that specific issue?

It’s official: Pat Robertson has been voted out of Dover. Let us resolve to make this the beginning of the end of ID.

Even Bonsell’s defeat, by the widest margin of all the candidates, wasn’t by a whole lot. And turnout was high, as might be expected after that much publicity. I think we can safely say that the pro-science and anti-science constituencies are very closely balanced in Dover. And I don’t think Dover is any abnormally creationist hotbed; it’s unusual only in that the average educational level of its citizens is below normal for the state.

The narrow victories, even AFTER it was clear that creationism was going to be slapped down at potentially staggering expense to the voters for raising it, reflects what we’ve long noticed. Creationism is a 100% emotional issue, as impervious to tax rates as it is to evidence.

And this in turn shows that the public school system is a relevant battleground. The issue is as much one of ignorance as one of belief. It’s no coincidence that most of the prior Dover board (and including the superintendent) couldn’t even guess what ID is, and one of them didn’t even know what the initials stood for, yet they were willing to perjure themselves (and violate any and all inconvenient procedural rules) to promote it. All they knew was that if they did NOT do these things, those they respected would call them the worst names possible. The ignorance displayed throughout was as pervasive as it was deep-seated.

As the old saw proclaims, “if you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” Now we’ve seen what a lousy education ultimately costs. The same issues now cropping up in Kansas, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, Alabama, West Virginia and elsewhere aren’t anything new, and may be a positive sign. It may seem like whack-a-mole today, but I hope ignorance will be easier to address usefully when it starts jumping up and shouting “here I am!”

Kansas is going full steam ahead:

State science standards sent for rewrite By Scott Rothschild (Contact)

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Topeka — The State Board of Education isn’t through with the science standards yet.

Because of copyright disputes, portions of the standards are having to be rewritten, a process that could take several more weeks and cost several thousand more dollars…[…]e/?evolution

HEY! before we move on to Kansas or Ohio, please do note that I challenged the very title of this thread.

Is it REALLY “over in Dover”?

Doesn’t anybody else remember what the board said about teaching ID in SS class?

Pardon the pun, but it’s not over ’till the fat lady sings, and i haven’t heard that yet.

Voting to rescind the previous board’s official policy does not relegate ID to being “unteachable”. Nor does the judge’s decision, which only impacts the teaching of ID in science class.

look, as was pointed out by Flint, there are still a lot of ID supporters in Dover. they surely didn’t move out of the area because of Jones’ decision.

there must STILL be a lot of pressure on the current school board, even if it is mostly behind the scenes now.

The media has done a piss-poor job (as usual) of exploring the undercurrents to the original board’s policy, and how the new board will handle that.

It would be far more interesting to me, at least, if someone had any information pertaining to those issues, than moving on to Kansas or Ohio in this particular thread.

so… does anybody have any real information past the pat media coverage of this “important vote”?

Not mine, but funny enough to be worth reposting…

In reponse to the Kansas flap, this was posted as a comment on the Lawrence-JournalWorld website:

Posted by badger (anonymous) on January 3, 2006 at 9:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Personally, I’m just amused at:

“ Two years later, a newly elected board reinstated evolution.”

I never knew they actually had that kind of power over nature.

“You there! You with the slightly more advantageous coloring! I’m from the state Board of Education, and you’ll have to stop adapting to your environment. Please surrender your concealment advantage and cease passing on your genes at an increased rate!”

*time passes*

“Sorry about that, old chap. Carry on as you were…”


there must STILL be a lot of pressure on the current school board, even if it is mostly behind the scenes now.

Yes indeed. Perhaps I wasn’t explicit enough that this is hardly the last school board election Dover will hold, and we already know from the Kansas experience that ignorance never sleeps. I’m optimistic enough to expect that nobody will start preaching creationism under false colors in other classes, at least for a while. I am NOT optimistic enough to think the creationists won’t win control of the Dover board in future elections, and I think it ought to be obvious that creationists won’t let temporary defeat alter either their arguments or their strategies.

What I’m most curious about is, where will the cost of the trial come from? Certainly not all or even mostly from higher taxes, so it will come by cutting costs. What subjects do you think are going to get whacked for budgetary reasons? Hint: it’s not football…

well, I’m sure there are state mandates for what HAS to be taught (there is standardized testing and federal funds to think about, after all).

It’s likely that more extra-curricular activities and lab activities will be cut first. that’s typical from my experience.

However, the question of whether the current school board is planning to address ID in social studies class is still there.

nothing in the current vote would prohibit them from doing so, and no further comments were forthcoming from the board (at least on the day the AP published their article).

I doubt we will find the answer in the media, then. Someone more familiar with the actual school board in Dover would have a better perspective on this issue.

anybody have any ideas on how to reach someone like that?

It would be worth the little bit of time to track this down, I think.

That hints at a strategy. Maybe we should contact Kansans and refer them to the indirect Creationism Tax they’d have to pay if they make a court case out of it and get boned as hard as Dover? Methinks conservatives may think twice if creationism was associated with having to pay more taxes.

See today’s York Dispatch for a real tear-jerker of a story about the lone pro-ID holdover, Heather Geesey, who was silent during the voice vote to boot the ID statement, and had earlier suggested the new school board appeal the decision. Geesey’s silence led one parent to say “Sitting there, not saying a word, you’re not serving anybody. Step down. Let someone who wants to be there have a chance to vote.”

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 13, column 0, byte 276 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/mach/5.18/XML/ line 187.

btw, Dave Thomas:

I get an error message when i try to go to the trackbak link you provide.

I think the political controversy over ID should be taught in social studies, as a sort of American Lysenkoism.

I wasn’t paying very close attention at the time, but the last I heard, the bit about dover “including ID” in their Social Studies curriculum was simply that they were considering offering a comparitive religion class.

just so I’m clear, I’m making no judgements over whether ID should or should not be taught as an example of a historical movement, religious philosophy, or simply as an example of poor critical thinking. So long as it isn’t taught as science, since it is in no way such.

I am however, still very curious about whether Dover still plans to introduce the concept in social studies class.

if they do, I think that would be the first case of any school district attempting to relegate the concept to study in anything OTHER than a science class.

That would be quite significant, in and of itself.

hmm. let me see if i can track down the original statement about teaching ID in social studies so we can analyze it without having to resort to memory.

Joseph Knippenberg, over at the Ashbrook Center, doesn’t think it is over.

“Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending upon your point of view), Judge Jones’s hopes are destined to be dashed. There are enough problems with his account of Intelligent Design and its relationship to contemporary science and science education to prevent any but the most ardent apologists for Darwinian orthodoxy from regarding the issue as settled.[…]g/06/id.html

My reply his essay: Guess I am an ardent apologist.

here ‘tis:

Bernadette Reinking, the board’s new president, said intelligent design would probably be discussed in an elective social studies class after consultation with an attorney.


btw, the wiki coverage of Kitzmiller, under Leading opinions/coverage lists PT as THE (only) source for pro-evolution!

way to go, PT!

…and we should care what knippenberg, or schlafly, or west think because???

People read their columns. It’s nice to have a rational easy to read rebuttal sitting there underneath their rants.

the people who regularly read their columns don’t give a damn about what we think. that’s been shown time and time again.

the only valuable columnists to criticize or correct are those that would normally get things right, that many folks read, but have misconceptions or publish erroneous information about this issue.

that’s not schlaffly or west, to be sure. they are just shills.


I think “regularly” is the key word here. You never know when the odd stray reader might happen by. On the web that “stray” can mean 1 person / day or 1000 people / day.

fair enough. so long as you recognize my point that it’s more important to analyze articles by typically “moderate” columnists who simply make a mistake, than it is to tear apart the obvious fabrications of someone like shafly.

Certainly! I agree whole heartedly with that assessment.

”… I think that would be the first case of any school district attempting to relegate the concept to study in anything OTHER than a science class.”

Pretty close. As reported in the Bakersfield Californian: A school (Frazier Mountain) in CA has a teacher (nonscience) that wants to teach ID as part of a philosophy class. She apparently was going to bring in speakers for both evo and ID. Trouble is, one of her evo speakers was to be Francis Crick.

Pretty close

close enough.

I wrote a letter to Bernadette Reinking asking her to clarify her statement to the media, and if she has time to expound upon how the current board will deal with pressure from Dover ID supporters.

I’m sure she is totally swamped with emails, so i doubt i will get a quick response, if any, but if/when i do, I will post it here (with her permission, of course).


Any classroom examination of intelligent design creationism would be incomplete without Jone’s 139 page ruling. If they include that then I say let ‘em teach it anywhere except science class.

Hell, just having students READ Jones’ ruling would be of value from many standpoints. It’s a very well written and thorough document, just on the face of it.

Jones’s ruling is nearly book length, in fact it’s nearly the size of one of my favorite books, Abusing Science, about the creationists of the 80’s. Does anyone know who’s writing a book about Dover?

Trouble is, one of her evo speakers was to be Francis Crick.

Maybe she should try Gould instead.

. Does anyone know who’s writing a book about Dover?

I’ve thought about it, but frankly I don’t feel like putting out the effort.

I want an encyclopedic treatment, which is the size of a telephone book and leaves no juicy dumb creationist babbling undocumented. I want to savor the trainwreck of the ID movement.

…it’s nearly the size of one of my favorite books, Abusing Science, about the creationists of the 80’s.

Is that the book by Phillip Kitcher? I remember reading it about 20 years ago and being very impressed. Kitcher and his publisher should update & revise the book and reissue it. If I’m not mistaken, Kitcher’s wife co-wrote the book, or at least some sections.

I was especially impressed with the way Kitcher explained what a “theory” was in science, as opposed to everyday terminology - his metaphor was of collections or “bundles” of tested and confirmed hypotheses, etc. Anyway a very good book, and it was an excellent “creation science” debunker.

yeah, it’s an impressive book. Whoever writes the book on Dover has a lot to live up to.

Write it Lenny - I’ll buy a copy (if its under 30 bucks)!

Write it Lenny - I’ll buy a copy (if its under 30 bucks)!

Heck, just download my website for free;

All I’d do is re-write that and add a few more details.


Its already bookmarked Lenny, has been for ages.

Creationsit claims is another favourite - recently used when I had fun with one guy (on his blog) who claimed that the DI didn’t do real ID, infact it was Hoyle (of static universe / panspermia fame) who is its true father and the rest don’t count.

I’ve emailed you before, I think.

The book about the Dover trial still has a couple of chapters left, in my humble opinion. Even after seeing the Dover school board thoroughly defeated in the courtroom, and in the last election, there still seem to be many districts elsewhere in America intent on teaching ID, or allowing the teaching of ID. Dover’s massive legal bills don’t seem to have dissuaded many of them, either. I’m still waiting to see, however, if the possibility of serving jail time for perjury will send a strong enough message to local school boards that they’ll think twice about following in Dover’s footsteps.

Does anyone know who’s writing a book about Dover?

Hopefully Mike Argento. I emailed him to thank him for his columns, and in his reply he claimed that he was in negotiations with the panda’s agent.

Incidentally, PT is linked from the main Yorkblog page. We’re famous!


Bob O'H Wrote:

We’re famous!

You were famous before. As far as I can tell, it’s actually technically impossible to go looking for evolutionary info on the web and not pass through here at some point. It’s that link from TalkOrigins that does it.

The book about the Dover trial still has a couple of chapters left, in my humble opinion.

Mine too. It should include Ohio and Kansas.

“Does anyone know who’s writing a book about Dover?”

I expect a book by Mark Fuhrman describing yet another insidious victory of the “culture of death.” (How’s his book on the Schiavo case coming along, by the way?)

Dover is pretty much past History and a book would be great for the those in the middle who may need convincing, however, for those who do “get it” and want to know why the fundamentalist or anti enlightenment project is trying so hard to disabuse the great unwashed of crediting any relative positive merit for science, a study of the degradation of critical thinking in academia is in order. Here is an intro in the facinating failure of irrational postmodern relativistic structuralism

part of a review on Amazon

“The Sokal Hoax: The Sham That Shook the Academy

part of a review on Amazon In Lingua Franca’s fabulous The Sokal Hoax” it does a fine job of presenting all sides of the con on “Social Text,” a hoax that washed over all sorts of disciplines, ranging from philosophy, sociology, history, political science, the hard sciences, cultural studies and literary theory; all were touched in some fashion and all had respective intellectuals comment on the controversy.


Science and Relativism : Some Key Controversies in the Philosophy of Science (Science and Its Conceptual Foundations series) (Paperback) by Larry Laudan

I did not write this work merely with the aim of setting the exegetical record straight. My larger target is those contemporaries who – in repeated acts of wish-fulfillment – have appropriated conclusions from the philosophy of science and put them to work in aid of a variety of social cum political causes for which those conclusions are ill adapted. Feminists, religious apologists (including “creation scientists”), counterculturalists, neoconservatives, and a host of other curious fellow-travelers have claimed to find crucial grist for their mills in, for instance, the avowed incommensurability and underdetermination of scientific theories. The displacement of the idea that facts and evidence matter by the idea that everything boils down to subjective interests and perspectives is – second only to American political campaigns – the most prominent and pernicious manifestation of anti-intellectualism in our time.

– Larry Laudan, Science and Relativism[1]

There is a resource page on Sokals website that cover this issue further

What the Social Text Affair Does and Does Not Prove

I wrote Ken Miller a few weeks ago and asked him if he had any plans to write a book about the Dover trial. He said he has a book in the works but not specifically about Dover. I did not ask for details about his book in progress.

Here is an intro in the facinating failure of irrational postmodern relativistic structuralism


Betrayal of Science and Reason by none other than Paul Ehrlich and his wife Anne.

Speaking of books, does anybody know if Ronald Numbers is going to update “The Creationists?” I imagine the 2nd edition would need just 50-100 pages tacked on the end to thoroughly cover ID.

Regarding the OP: what Flint said. Vigilance is needed in Dover. It was over in Kansas in 1999, until the next school board election.

Regarding Panda’s Thumb being famous: I knew Panda’s Thumb was famous the day my employer blocked me from browsing to it at work (classifying it as a “chat” site).

Ok, i have heard from Bernadette Reinking, and she does clarify what the Dover board is planning on doing, and some of the difficulties they are facing.

I invited her here to speak to the issue herself. Barring that, i asked for permission to post her response to me verbatim.

stay tuned.

If anybody still cares about the current dover school board, let me know and I will post Bernadette’s response.

let er rip

Go for it.

your wish…

Dear Bernadette, thanks for taking the time to read this, I’m sure you are inundated with emails at this point in time. I’m a biologist who participates in the pro-evolution forum over at the Panda’s Thumb (, and there was recently a topic started there discussing the status of ID in Dover. All of us feel that ID certainly is not, and likely never will be, an actual scientific endeavor. However, there is still considerable debate over the value of teaching it as a classic example of poor critical thinking, or even just as an example of a historical movement in the US. I was wondering if you could please clarify for me whether the Dover school board is still considering covering this topic in an elective social studies class or not? also, the media did a very poor job of covering the undercurrents in the Dover community which lead to the original school board policy. I can only assume all the original proponents of it didn’t simply move out of Dover because of the Kitzmiller ruling. Is there still pressure on the school board from ID proponents, and how will the board deal with this? thanks again for your time. cheers and congratulations! Tom Neal Dear Tom, I don’t believe anyone is going to move away soon. The former board (not all of it) has been to our meetings and they are welcome. We are looking at a Compariable Religions Class for seniors. It still needs to be discussed. My own thoughts are ID=religion= Comparable Religion Class so all religions can be discussed. Where ID is in this is still questionable.We ran on a platform equating ID with Religion. We are mindful that we did not win by a landslide. We need to listen to all sides of the issue. Thanks for asking. Feel free to ask any time. Bernadette Reinking

…is my command.


I’d say that the root causes of the Dover Debacle are still present in spades. I wouldn’t want Bernadette’s job right now, that’s for sure.

brave woman.

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This page contains a single entry by Dave Thomas published on January 4, 2006 2:17 PM.

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