Forum on “ID, Science Education and the Law” in Kansas

| 56 Comments

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

56 Comments

It looks as though the “thin edge of the wedge” is becoming a razor blade. Is it going to be harder in Kansas to sue the Board of Education because it is harder to connect to motive?

It seems to me that the ID movement is becoming even more stealthy by opening up opportunities to pick fights with individual school districts after they have “standards” and laws in place. Their basic strategy is to be in a position where, if they are sued and lose, taxpayers pick up the tab. What are the prospects of going after individual ID pushers in Kansas?

It looks as though the “thin edge of the wedge” is becoming a razor blade. Is it going to be harder in Kansas to sue the Board of Education because it is harder to connect to motive?

No. Motive is crushingly easy to establish: The Chairman of the education board, Steve Abrams, who played a pivotal role in getting the “teach the controversy” policy adopted, has made open statements to the press pointing out his religious motivations: “At some point in time, if you compare evolution and the Bible, you have to decide which one you believe. That’s the bottom line.” (Lawrence Journal-World, Sept 24, 2005) Board member Kathy Martin, when asked if ID had a religious agenda, Martin declared, “Of course this is a Christian agenda. We are a Christian nation. Our country is made up of Christian conservatives. We don’t often speak up, but we need to stand up and let our voices be heard. (Pitch.Com, May 5, 2005) Prior to the hearings, Board member Connie Morris asked for a list of witnesses that those opposing the policy planned to call, explaining that she would be “praying over” the witness list. (Kansas Star, April 20,2005)

Thanks Lenny.

The motive behind the most recent House Bill in Michigan is a bit harder to interpret. However, there seem to be connections to well-known individuals who have pushed earlier bills. These individuals have a track record of fundamentalist activities, but right now it seems hard to make an air-tight connection to ID activities.

The motive behind the most recent House Bill in Michigan is a bit harder to interpret. However, there seem to be connections to well-known individuals who have pushed earlier bills. These individuals have a track record of fundamentalist activities, but right now it seems hard to make an air-tight connection to ID activities.

Well, the difficulty for IDers with “teach the controversy” is that sooner or later they have to, well, tell us what the hell the controversy is that they want to teach. And as soon as they do, it will turn out to be the same old crap that ID/creationists have been telling us for forty years now.

Yeah, I think you are right. We have some good people watching here in Michigan. But it’s a shame that people have to waste part of their careers hanging around like “antibodies” waiting to zap these infections as they occur. There are much better things to do with one’s time. Sigh.

“There are much better things to do with one’s time.”

I don’t think that’s true, Mike. Few activities are nobler, or better worthy of effort, than taking a stand against ignorance and superstition.

Yeah, I think you are right. We have some good people watching here in Michigan. But it’s a shame that people have to waste part of their careers hanging around like “antibodies” waiting to zap these infections as they occur. There are much better things to do with one’s time. Sigh.

It’s waayyyy past the time when we should still be re-acting to what the IDers do.

Here’s something I have been proposing for a long long time:

Most states in the US have, in the past years, either strengthened or added in their state curriculum standards a requirement that evolution be taught as a part of a good science education. While some states have very strong detailed standards and others have brief ambiguous ones, the fact remains that they have decided that evolution is an important part of biology and must be taught as part of any good science education.

Creationists, on the other hand, have still been able to intimidate many local schools into dropping mention of evolution as “too controversial”, and this local base of support is the only thing holding the creationists up right now.

So I propose we kill it.

I propose we find a state which has very strong detailed standards requiring evolution, find a district within that state which is NOT teaching evolution (either because the local school board “doesn’t believe in it” or because they “don’t want to offend parents” or because the subject is “too controversial”), and then sue them on the grounds that they are not meeting the state’s educational standards and are therefore, by the state’s own definition, providing a sub-standard science education to its students.

Here is why I think it’s a good tactic to take:

(1) we can’t lose. The district has no defense to offer —- they must meet the state standards, and they are not. Case closed.

(2) It will accomplish what we all have said for years that we want – it will get evolution into all our schools and textbooks, and it will make it impossible for creationists to intimidate or pressure anyone into keeping it out.

(3) it will establish the legal precedent that evolution is a standard part of any good science education and that any school which does not teach evolution (for whatever reason) is not meeting its obligation to teach good science.

(4) it will negate the fundie’s power in local school board elections by making those elections irrelevant to the issue – state school standards apply to every school in the state, and those districts MUST comply, no matter WHAT their local school board wants to do. Even if the fundies capture the entire local school board and they ALL vote to drop evolution, they can’t do it – they *must* comply with the state education standards.

(5) Winning in one district will establish the legal precedent, and force every school district in the state to comply. It will also send the message to all the other districts in other states, sicne they will all be equally vulnerable to such a lawsuit. At that point, the fundies will have a choice; they can either choose to contest us in each and every state, which will lead into a long drawn out legal fight for them which will drain their resources and disrupt their own plans, all for a fight that they cannot possibly win anyway; or they can choose to not waste their resources and to cede the field to us, giving up their influence in local districts. Either choice makes me happy. We win either way, they lose either way.

(6) such a strategy disrupts the fundies’ coherent national strategy. For too long, the fundies have been calling all the shots, free to pick and choose fights when and where they want, and the anti-creationist movement has just been following behind them, reacting to what they do. It’s time we stop being defensive with them and go on the attack, forcing them to react to *us*.

The Rev Dr Wrote:

“I propose we find a state which has very strong detailed standards requiring evolution, find a district within that state which is NOT teaching evolution (either because the local school board “doesn’t believe in it” or because they “don’t want to offend parents” or because the subject is “too controversial”), and then sue them on the grounds that they are not meeting the state’s educational standards and are therefore, by the state’s own definition, providing a sub-standard science education to its students.”

I suspect you wouldn’t have to look hard to find such a district. One of my colleagues used to teach in a nearby district and says evolution was either avoided or mixed with creationism, but no one seemed to take them to task. I have not verified this claim, but schools do have tremendous “freedom” to do what they like as long as parents don’t challenge them. I am unsure if there is an equivalent “citizens for science “ watchdog group in this state.

It’s not just Evolution anymore, from yesterday’s NY Times:

The Big Bang memo came from Mr. Deutsch, a 24-year-old presidential appointee in the press office at NASA headquarters whose résumé says he was an intern in the “war room” of the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. A 2003 journalism graduate of Texas A&M, he was also the public-affairs officer who sought more control over Dr. Hansen’s public statements.

In October 2005, Mr. Deutsch sent an e-mail message to Flint Wild, a NASA contractor working on a set of Web presentations about Einstein for middle-school students. The message said the word “theory” needed to be added after every mention of the Big Bang.

The Big Bang is “not proven fact; it is opinion,” Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, “It is not NASA’s place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator.”

It continued: “This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most.”

The memo also noted that The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual specified the phrasing “Big Bang theory.” Mr. Acosta, Mr. Deutsch’s boss, said in an interview yesterday that for that reason, it should be used in all NASA documents.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/04/s[…]d=2&_r=3

We are becoming under the auspices of people like Carol, Heddle, etc. a nation of backwards, religious-retards.

WRT going on the offense with lawsuits, I’m not a lawyer, but don’t you have to have “standing” in order to file a lawsuit? I mean, someone from outside the school district can’t just waltz in and file a lawsuit without a legal reason for doing so, can they? And if no one in town will volunteer to be the plaintiff, what can you do?

(shrug) ;-)

I can certainly predict the MYOB response if you try. The local counties, especially rural ones, don’t appreciate outsiders coming in and trying to change things, even when the goal is not controversial.

First:

Moses shared this gem: The Big Bang is “not proven fact; it is opinion,” Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, “It is not NASA’s place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator.”

and I feel I need to respond. GGGGHHHHHHAAAAAAA!!!!!!!! Holy Funk Batman, something has really gone bad in your fridge!

Ok, now to move on:

Mike said: Their basic strategy is to be in a position where, if they are sued and lose, taxpayers pick up the tab. What are the prospects of going after individual ID pushers in Kansas?

I like Lenny’s IDea about setting a precident but I agree with KL, you’d have to be pretty careful about how you go about it. The point above though is a real problem. It’s the individuals who put in the bad stuff, it’s too bad it’s the already underfunded states that have to pick up the tab for idiots who do stuff like this. That is really stinkin frustrating.

When I was a child, in a very rural school district, the Seattle Seakhawks football team (coincidence that they arte in today’s game eh?) or members of the team anyway, came to our local highschool to preach about god and some kid who’s mother was a biologist and his father was a history professor decided to call the aclu. Boy did that go over poorly in the community. The school was sued and the kid’s little brother had to go through a school district where most of the administration truly hated him. The older brother left town right after graduation to go to reed college in oregon but the little brother ended up getting kicked out of school and had to do his high school at a community college. So it’d be best to use a senior with an exemplary record and no younger siblings as your plainiff.

PS, I put up a new post on my blog this morning.

http://www.therolladailynews.com/ar[…]02223867.txt

A bill that appears to mandate the teaching of intelligent design is sitting idle in the Missouri House right now. Sponsored by Rep. Robert Cooper, R-Camdenton, the bill requires a “substantive amount of critical analysis” when teaching the theory of biological origins or scientific theory. “Critical analysis” includes the teaching of missing supporting data, alternate logical explanations, faulty logic and lack of experimental results.

Essentially, the bill appears to mandate the teaching that some intelligent being designed the systems on Earth, said Dr. Jerry Giger, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

Currently, Rolla schools teach biological evolution as it relates to fossil records and developmental stages of organisms. Natural selection is taught to describe how changes in characteristics provides survival advantages.

Those lessons do not include teachings that man evolved from lesser organisms, Giger said.

BWE wrote:

“When I was a child, in a very rural school district, the Seattle Seakhawks football team (coincidence that they arte in today’s game eh?) or members of the team anyway, came to our local highschool to preach about god and some kid who’s mother was a biologist and his father was a history professor decided to call the aclu. Boy did that go over poorly in the community. The school was sued and the kid’s little brother had to go through a school district where most of the administration truly hated him. The older brother left town right after graduation to go to reed college in oregon but the little brother ended up getting kicked out of school and had to do his high school at a community college. So it’d be best to use a senior with an exemplary record and no younger siblings as your plainiff.”

In fact, you would be taking a serious risk in some areas. It would be best if you did not live where they could find you. Houses mysteriously burn down after you stick your neck out too far. I’m not sure many people would have the courage. (Sad, it sounds almost like the civil rights movement; I ask myself: would I have had the guts to put myself and my family at risk to do what I know is right?)

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank Wrote:

Here is why I think it’s a good tactic to take:

(1) we can’t lose…

Famous last words?

BWE that’s pretty bad news about the community response, almost the sort of thing that one is hearing right now vis a vis the cartoons in Copenhagen. And they claim to be religious?

WRT going on the offense with lawsuits, I’m not a lawyer, but don’t you have to have “standing” in order to file a lawsuit? I mean, someone from outside the school district can’t just waltz in and file a lawsuit without a legal reason for doing so, can they?

ACLU has been sueing districts for almost a century. They always amnage to find people with “standing”. I’m not sure why anyone would think it a problem now.

And if no one in town will volunteer to be the plaintiff, what can you do?

Find another town.

“Critical analysis” includes the teaching of missing supporting data,

If they can teach missing data, I’d say these IDers have really revolutionized science.

That is my personal contribution to the ID sciences. Teaching the missing Data. After a few hits off the ID Bong I have lots of missing data and I like to teach it.

I agree with Lenny that there has to be some coherent national strategy. Informally, there already is within the science community when we get involved in setting standards. There is little doubt about what these standards need to be.

The difficulties begin at the political and various local levels. Fundamentalists obviously have a well-coordinated national strategy for their war on science (or on any process that involves thinking and checking facts). They are working constantly at these levels, in churches, local political cells, bombarding local newspapers. Local newspapers like to publish controversy, but often won’t publish the kinds of facts that came out in the Dover trial even when provided with the means to verify these facts. Scientists are painted as arrogant know-it-alls even before they get involved, so any scientist attempting to get a word in is instantly shouted down in these communities. Soft words work no better than hard evidence. You are often dealing with large communities suffering from what can best be described as a collective mental illness. Not only do they not know how to check facts, they don’t even have the will to do so. Many communities don’t seem to know what happened in Dover and don’t care.

Compared with the organizational abilities of the fundamentalists, the scientific community looks like the Keystone Cops in this arena. Fundies have better people skills. They define their enemy before their enemy can define themselves. They can even make a pretty good living by spreading anti-science. They have learned to leverage taxpayer money when pushing their causes. Most scientists have to respond on their own dime.

State and national standards have to be pushed hard because, at least at these levels, some public discussion still exists. There needs to be some encouragement given to younger, more energetic researchers to get involved in these kinds of activities without having to risk their careers. Those of us who used to take some responsibility for this outside of our busy research schedules can, in our retirement, try to stay involved, but age takes its toll.

Only a few states currently have citizens-for-science organizations. How could this be expanded? How could the activities of these be better coordinated with major scientific organizations and the NCSE? What should such organizations be studying? Human behavior? Mob psychology? Political strategies and tactics? Where do we find the talent that can keep up the fight? What about formal training sessions (fundies do this)? Should scientific training also include anti-anti-science training? Counter intelligence (it’s easy for them because we are an open book)?

Want can be done? NCSE, PT, Talk Origins, etc. are great, but in most communities, it is a lonely battle for anyone who tries to take on the fundies. It doesn’t work to confront them directly, and preemptive education, no matter how carefully done, is perceived as and attack.

Hi, I’m new to the forum, but have been lurking for awhile now. Great stuff! I hope that my post is in the right thread. Anyway, the Washington Post Sunday Magazine came out with a cover article entitled “Eden and Evolution” about the culture debate about evolution and how it pertains to religion and the ID movement. I thought it was a good and thoughtful read, although I about blew my top when one professor(!) said to her new biology 101 class that “no one has ever seen a dog turn into a cat in the laboratory” when she discounted macro-evolution. What I found very interesting was how the article (or I should say many of the interviewees) pointed out that not only is intelligent design bad science, but it is bad theology. I think that many people have a fuzzy and inaccurate idea of evolution, especially with the creationists and discovery institute trying to stir up all this controversy. They conflate and confuse evolutionary science with negating the existence of God or gods. But here is what the ID people don’t say: If irreducible complexity suddenly was reducible, that is, if somebody figured out the evolutionary mechanisms behind bacteria flagella, or found more “missing link” fossils or whatever, then the hand of God in designing complex systems suddenly becomes much smaller and smaller with the more you know. If you took the ID hypothesis to be true, then human knowledge kills God. I hope I have this right and am not talking out of my arse. If the faithful flocks knew this, would they be embracing ID so quickly?

I think what needs to be taught in our schools in general, even outside of biology class, is critical thinking from the get-go. Not the crap that the ID movement is trying to push into schools but taught how to think about problems on their own, to be curious, to understand arguments and learn the difference between hypothesis and theory. I had a great education (I’d like to think), and I feel so sorry for those who instead of being taught to think for themselves, are taught to take tests.

Here is the link to the article

But here is what the ID people don’t say: If irreducible complexity suddenly was reducible, that is, if somebody figured out the evolutionary mechanisms behind bacteria flagella, or found more “missing link” fossils or whatever, then the hand of God in designing complex systems suddenly becomes much smaller and smaller with the more you know. If you took the ID hypothesis to be true, then human knowledge kills God. I hope I have this right and am not talking out of my arse. If the faithful flocks knew this, would they be embracing ID so quickly?

That, indeed, is the precise problem with “god of the gaps” – as we learn more and more, their god becomes smaller and more puny.

Alas, they don’t care. They feel that they win as long as there is ANY gap — and until our knowledge is absolutely perfect, they will ALWAYS have a gap, no matter how tiny it becomes.

AG: You’re absolutely right– positing a “God of the gaps” sets God up for a fall. I know Ken Miller has pointed this out, and I imagine that a number of other theologians have as well.

There are some very serious theological problems with ID (parasitoids are one of my favorite examples). But the ID proponents are not trying to put together a coherent theology any more than they’re trying to put together a coherent science. It’s more about power: social, cultural, and political power.

Frighteningly, I think their hope for the “gaps” is the opposite of what Lenny’s describing. Rather than watching the gaps get smaller, I think they intend for the gaps to get larger. First they shed doubt on the mechanism of natural selection, then the idea of common ancestry. Then the Big Bang and the idea that the Earth is billions of years old. Eventually there’s enough obfuscation that any of their religious beliefs have equal “scientific” standing to the best theories that science can offer. My impression is that they’re hoping for something along those lines.

IAAL (but this is not legal advice)

on standing: a parent with a child enrolled in the district would have to be the plaintiff. Having a biology teacher as a co-plaintiff who wishes to teach evolution in accordance with state standards but is prevented from doing so by the school board would help.

they are the persons harmed by the school policy, so they would need the courage to stand up to community contempt.

while such plaintiffs do exist, they tend to be thin on the ground. also, i am not aware of a systematic campaign by any pro-science organization to try to find such people in order to file push-back lawsuits.

public interest firms like the ACLU and American United spend so much time on defense, they can simply run out of energy to go on the attack.

sounds like a great idea, though.

er BWE the wonder drug that patches over the missing bits might be Prozac :)

Comment #77603 posted by ‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank on February 5, 2006 08:53 AM

I propose we find a state which has very strong detailed standards requiring evolution, find a district within that state which is NOT teaching evolution (either because the local school board “doesn’t believe in it” or because they “don’t want to offend parents” or because the subject is “too controversial”), and then sue them on the grounds that they are not meeting the state’s educational standards and are therefore, by the state’s own definition, providing a sub-standard science education to its students.

Here are some considerations –

I think that a lot of state science standards are just advisory rather than mandatory. I don’t know how far states go in requiring that certain science subjects be taught. When I was in high school in the early 1960’s, I took just general biology, chemistry, and human physiology. I didn’t take physics and astronomy until college. Also, many students move from state to state, so it might be impractical to require that those students have knowledge of specific scientific subjects in order to graduate.

I think that there is too much emphasis on evolution education. For example, evolution is the only scientific subject with its own rating in the Fordham Foundation report on state science standards – 3 possible points out of a maximum possible 69 points. A big organization with the broad title “National Center for Science Education” appears to be devoted exclusively to promoting education about evolution. Meanwhile, there does not seem to be any concern that K-12 students be taught anything at all about physics and chemistry, and I presume that many K-12 students – particularly those in vocational programs — do not take these subjects. I think that there is a misplaced priority here. I think that knowing about physics and chemistry is of much more practical importance than knowing about evolution.

Also, any such school district would have to be sued in state court rather than federal court because no federal issues are involved, and an award of attorney fees might not be available to the plaintiffs in state courts. The award of attorney fees to the plaintiffs in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case was based on a federal law and a court decision authorizing such an award – see Blum v. Stenson, 465 US 886 (1984). Incidentally, a bill has been introduced in Congress to bar the award of these attorney fees in establishment clause lawsuits — see http://www.legion.org/?section=pub_[…]e&id=289 and http://www.legion.org/includes/prin[…]u_magarticle

I think that the solution is just to teach both evolution and non-religious criticisms of evolution. Even the fundy-infested evangelical Christian schools do not have a problem with this approach (except that they often include biblical creationism among the criticisms of evolution). The world will not come to an end if people stop believing in evolution theory, because evolution theory can be used without believing that it is true.

Why would one have to have children in a district to have ‘standing’? I have no children in my local school district. I do, however, pay taxes. I should have a right to be sure my tax money isn’t being spent to establish religion. Why couldn’t I bring suit should my local district choose to teach creationism/ID?

The Big Bang appears to be also under the attack of the creationist IDiots. Under what subject is it taught in the US (physics)? Could it be that in some schools a teacher might say something like “There is no evidence for the Big Bang and that leaves us to assume goditit”?

Comment #77823 Posted by GT(N)T on February 6, 2006 06:23 AM

Why would one have to have children in a district to have ‘standing’? I have no children in my local school district. I do, however, pay taxes. I should have a right to be sure my tax money isn’t being spent to establish religion. Why couldn’t I bring suit should my local district choose to teach creationism/ID?

GT(N)T, The Supreme Court has ruled that simply being a taxpayer does not give standing to sue a government. There must be some kind of harm involved and I guess that having your (or my)tax money mis-spent doesn’t qualify as ‘harm’. Some lawyerly type here may be able to provide a reference faster than I can, but give me a little time and I will try to find the specific case.

Sincerely, Paul

O.K. I was only half right. Sometimes taxpayers have standing and sometimes they don’t. It depends on what the supremes had for breakfast that day. ;-)

Seriously though, Here is a quick google search. supreme court taxpayer standing sue

Larry, under his latest nom du jour (that’s French) wrote:

I think that there is too much emphasis on evolution education. For example, evolution is the only scientific subject with its own rating in the Fordham Foundation report on state science standards — 3 possible points out of a maximum possible 69 points.

3 points out of 69 is “too much emphasis?” That comes out to 1/23 of the total number of points (that’s fractions). And let me guess…the fact that there’s so much emphasis only proves that evolution is a “theory in crisis”…or that ID is valid because it’s generating so much controversy…or something (that’s bollocks).

And now Larry’s pretending to be concerned about the state of science-education in public schools? That’s hypocricy.

I would think that, if you were not of that religion and could demonstrate conclusively that taxpayer money was being used to establish it (or, arguably, were of that religion and disagreed), that would constitute harm.

You’d want someone involved in the school district, though, and preferably on the student level. The issue is that some narrow minded rural court might try to dismiss someone on “standing”, and you want an ironclad case for that. Someone who is illogically bent on supporting ID is going to find some horribly convoluted way to rule against you, so you want to make sure when they do that it is blatantly obvious. Allowing them to make a very narrow, but perhaps vaguely justifiable standing decision is not a good idea. You’d want to force their hand to rule that establishing religion in school somehow wasn’t hurting someone or violating the establishment clause, because that is the kind of decision that will get blasted on appeal.

When practicing law, if you get to pick your case, you want to stack all the cards in your favor.

Comment #77823 posted by GT(N)T on February 6, 2006 06:23 AM Why would one have to have children in a district to have ‘standing’? I have no children in my local school district. I do, however, pay taxes. I should have a right to be sure my tax money isn’t being spent to establish religion. Why couldn’t I bring suit should my local district choose to teach creationism/ID?

Here are some considerations —

The lawsuit that Lenny Flank proposed — that a school district be sued for violation of a state standard requiring that evolution be taught – would have to be filed in a state court instead of a federal court, because no federal issues are involved. State courts and federal courts often have different rules concerning standing to sue.

Federal courts have interpreted the “cases” and “controversies” provisions of Article III of the US Constitution – which governs federal courts – as meaning that the plaintiff must be “injured-in-fact,” though I don’t see why this is so, because there can be such a thing as a hypothetical or moot case or controversy. As Paul Flocken pointed out in Message #77833, sometimes taxpayer suits are allowed in federal courts, sometimes not (for example, see http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~mmschn[…]ingFlast.pdf )

The federal courts can sometimes be very hardnosed about the “injured-in-fact” requirement. In one recent establishment-clause lawsuit over “under god” in the pledge, the Supreme Court threw out the case because the father who sued did not have legal custody of his biological daughter on whose behalf he sued, so I think that to have standing to sue in federal court in regard to something religious that is taught in a public school, you probably would have to be a legal parent or guardian of a student in that school. However, in other establishment-clause cases, like against public displays of religious things like the ten commandments, you do not have to show any particular personal injury in order to have standing. Also, the laws are not entirely consistent about this “injury-in-fact” requirement – for example, the federal environmental laws have provisions for what are called “citizen suits,” in which the plaintiffs do not have to show any personal injuries ( this means that they can claim injury just by being members of the general public ).

On the other hand, state courts are sometimes even allowed to issue advisory opinions on hypothetical or moot cases.

When determining standing to sue, the courts sometimes follow specific laws or official court procedures, or may make up the rules as they go along.

Andy H (Larry, etc.) I remain curious about your continued violation of Panda’s ethical rule #6: no posting under multiple names.

Are you doing this because you don’t know about the rule? Are you doing this because you’re unethical? Are you doing this because you think no one will notice?

Just curious.

RGD:

You seem to have forgotton how belief-think works. If Larry ignores you, you didn’t ask him anything. See how easy that is?

Comment #77847 posted by Raging Bee on February 6, 2006 10:33 AM

I think that there is too much emphasis on evolution education. For example, evolution is the only scientific subject with its own rating in the Fordham Foundation report on state science standards — 3 possible points out of a maximum possible 69 points.

3 points out of 69 is “too much emphasis?” That comes out to 1/23 of the total number of points (that’s fractions).

My main quibble was that it is the only scientific subject with its own rating in the Fordham Foundation report. Also, the principal author of the report, Prof. Paul Gross, wanted to drop Ohio’s overall grade from B to F just because of the state’s evolution standards (see “Statement from the Authors of the Fordham Report” in http://science2.marion.ohio-state.e[…]ohioscience/ ), but he was prevented from doing so because no revisions of the state reports were allowed. By my own calculations, the loss of the 3 evolution points would have dropped Ohio’s overall grade just from a solid B to a B-minus or C-plus.

Flint Wrote:

You seem to have forgotton how belief-think works. If Larry ignores you, you didn’t ask him anything. See how easy that is?

I admit I’m curious to see how long he can go without responding. Think of it as a very simple experiment. I beg the indulgence of the site’s masters while I conduct this research.

Maybe trying to respond to the attacks on science through legal action is getting more complicated than it needs to be. I don’t know much about legal precedents and how they affect strategy, but I do know something about standards in science and engineering.

As our knowledge about the physical world increases, and as technology becomes more sophisticated and dependent on sound science, people have to have a solid foundation in their science training in order to succeed in careers that depend on science. I certainly wouldn’t want Dembski and his sophomoric understanding of science on any project under my supervision. Other countries in the developing world haven’t missed the fact that scientific training is one of the keys to successful economic development.

Throughout my career I have had to be involved in the training of individuals who have worked in my labs or in divisions within a corporation. Invariably those with the best foundation in the sciences learn more quickly, adapt to changes more easily, and are more successful. Shoddy conceptual understanding and misinformation in a person’s training leads to serious mistakes and stupid blind alleys. The ID fools are a perfect example. We don’t want to impose their deliberately stupid ideas on children hoping for careers in science.

Flint.….Of Course .….Larry is a reincarnation of the

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.

Comment #77848 posted by AD on February 6, 2006 10:36 AM I would think that, if you were not of that religion and could demonstrate conclusively that taxpayer money was being used to establish it (or, arguably, were of that religion and disagreed), that would constitute harm.

You’d want someone involved in the school district, though, and preferably on the student level. The issue is that some narrow minded rural court might try to dismiss someone on “standing”, and you want an ironclad case for that.

An establishment-clause lawsuit would probably have to be filed in a federal district court rather than in a state/local court ( I presume that is what you mean by “rural court” ), because the US Constitution gives the federal courts jurisdiction over cases arising under that constitution. Federal and state/local courts sometimes have “concurrent jurisdiction,” but that would not apply here. Also, the named plaintiff would probably have to be a legal parent or guardian of a student in the school (a suit against “under god” in the pledge was thrown out because the father did not have legal custody of his biological daughter). One attorney used the appropriate term “mascots” to describe plaintiffs represented for free by the ACLU et al.. These “mascots” are “adopted” by the suing organizations just to satisfy the silly rule that the Constitution supposedly requires that the plaintiffs in federal courts be “injured-in-fact.” I think that anyone should be allowed to sue where there is a real (i.e., not hypothetical) controversy and suits are not prohibited by law.

Andy H (Larry, etc.) I remain curious about your continued violation of Panda’s ethical rule #6: no posting under multiple names.

Are you doing this because you don’t know about the rule? Are you doing this because you’re unethical? Are you doing this because you think no one will notice?

Just curious.

Also, the principal author of the report, Prof. Paul Gross, wanted to drop Ohio’s overall grade from B to F just because of the state’s evolution standards…

The evolution standards were changed by people who knew they were being dishonest at the time. This is not a mistake, or the result of inadequate knowledge or resources. The failing grade for blatant dishonesty, not just incorrectness.

If I were being accused of being someone else here, you can bet that I’d be objecting to the characterization. Why is “Andy H.” not responding to the many implications that he is in fact old Larry?

For that matter, why does he bother? Was he banned? Why just change your name but keep the same annoying and ignorant banter up? Who’s he trying to fool? And why?

Would a biology teacher have sufficient legal standing to file a lawsuit in this case? One could make the argument that introducing ID into the required curriculum forces the teacher to not only support a particular religious belief, but teach as “science” a subject that s/he knows is unsupported by the accepted professional standards of scientific evidence.

Actually, a better argument might be that the state was actually comitting a criminal act regarding the science teacher, that being entrapment.

On one hand, they are forced to sign a professional ethics statement claiming they will not introduce non-science into the classroom, speak on personal opinion, or commit any number of non-scientific fallacies within the course of doing their job.

On the other hand, they are being mandated to teach non-science in their classroom, which expressly violates their professional code of ethics.

Depending on the exact wording of each document, it would be entirely possible that they are in direct conflict with each other, and I’m fairly sure that’s something entirely plausible to pursue.

I’d also like to know why AndLarryFafarH thinks he can post under multiple names? Maybe one of the site admins can shed some light on this with evidence to support it or deny it? Why is the rule violation going on?

If you folks want to start taking the offensive, here are two ideas you might consider.

The first idea harkens back to a time before the Internet, before the Web. Alas, it requires work, dedication, a time commitment, craft and craftiness.

You need a computer, a printer, and a word processing program.

Create a set of broadsides (flyers) explaining your point of view vis a vis Evolution and the problems with the Creationism point of view. (What you’re doing is giving the body politic arguments that they can use to help fight the battle with you).

On one side of the broadside you might have in bold letters, landscape mode, large font etc. the topic (e.g., “Teach The Controversy”). On the other side of the 8x11 sheet of paper you might start out by saying “Religious conservatives spend a lot of time these days talking about “teaching the controversy” with regards to Darwin’s theory of evolution. Here are the arguments that they use and why they are wrong (problematic)”. In short, you use slogans of your adversary to your benefit. You can use scripture to good benefit, as well if you are well versed in it.

Keep it at a 12th grade level. keep it polite (i.e., Don’t call the other side names like IDiot). Don’t use profanity. Don’t put your name or other identifying marks on it (like referring somebody to Web pages etc.). Don’t use a photocopying service in the town where you are operating (See Free Speech For Me But Not For Thee (Nat Hentoff)). You may wish to use a fictitious name. Do be concise and to the point.

After you finish writing your missive(s), print out a copy or two and spend the next several days editing the document. Put it out for critical peer review, spelling, grammar etc. Be ruthless in your editing. This is not casual Internet stuff. You are advocating your point of view to a stranger.

After you have crafted the best document(s) you can, then print out 50 or so copies and take them to places where the public park their cars. Put them on the windshields (perhaps the parking lot of the local Fundamentalist church on a Sunday when the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and the faithful are faithfuling or grocery stores (strip malls), private businesses where the parking lot is public; public parks, school board meetings etc.) with the title facing out so people can see it when they approach their cars. The trick here is not to get caught (I think I mentioned craftiness).

You might also consider putting up your broadsides on telephone poles or light poles going to and from the public (or Christian) school (Do not use push-pins – use thumb-tacks. Kids play sword-fight with push-pins.).

Every few weeks you distribute another broadside expressing your point of view on a related topic.

You don’t have to live in a specific community exercise the system in this way.

Second Idea.

You might consider ways to get your message out to the kids. Perhaps CDs (that you charge a token fee for (or give away)) with songs (using the kids vernacular) that express your point of view. If someone can write songs promoting Young Earth Creationism (YEC) and other religious topics then it seems to me that we are certainly justified in countering that opinion (in music) with a more factual scientific account. If you get lucky and a song “hits” with the kids, then you might find it being played on the a local radio station (not likely in these days of Clear Channel so don’t get your hopes up).

A previous poster said that “any preemptive education, no matter how carefully done is perceived as an attack”. Seems to me that that’s a red herring. Fundamentalists declared an “all out attack on Darwinism in any form” in 1924 (See Redeeming The Time (Paige Smith) pg 854). If you’re taking the offensive, then by definition you are attacking.

There are other ways to be pro-active (or to “take the offensive”) besides using the court system. The courts should be a vehicle of last resort. I’m sure you are all creative enough to come up with something positive that will work for you.

Best Regards,

Bob

After listening to the audio from this, in part, and spending some time to think on it, I think Jack has hit the proverbial nail square on its proverbial head.

ID is going to have to overcome the same sort of (almost comic) underlying paper trail that Dover would. I think Lenny asserted, at some point, that most fundamentalists will not keep quiet on religion. If Judge Jones’ standards are held to, there’s going to be trouble in both Kansas and Ohio for this.

I suppose the part that bothers me is that the people who ultimately get screwed are taxpayers and kids. They’ll pick up the tab for this sort of thing as well.

But nice work. I commend the efforts to actually explain the issues.

Comment #77895 posted by Julie Stahlhut on February 6, 2006 02:46 PM

Would a biology teacher have sufficient legal standing to file a lawsuit in this case? One could make the argument that introducing ID into the required curriculum forces the teacher to not only support a particular religious belief, but teach as “science” a subject that s/he knows is unsupported by the accepted professional standards of scientific evidence.

Yes, teachers have been the sole plaintiffs or among the plaintiffs in a number of court cases concerning requirements for and against teaching evolution and/or creationism in the public schools, and it appears that they were granted standing to sue in cases where they were the sole plaintiffs. Eight important lawsuits are listed on http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/ar[…]_15_2001.asp The opinions for some of these decisions are unpublished and hence might not be citable as precedent – there is now a big controversy going on as to whether to allow citations of unpublished opinions. See http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?[…]081792928522 Courts have ruled that teachers can be required to teach evolution even though evolution conflicts with their religious beliefs, so why wouldn’t courts rule the same way regarding ID or other criticisms of evolution theory? One of the issues in a lawsuit you described might be whether the teachers are required to just explain ID or teach that it is true. As for the claim that ID is bogus science, there is no constitutional separation of bogus science and state.

Comment #77899 posted by AD on February 6, 2006 02:56 PM Actually, a better argument might be that the state was actually committing a criminal act regarding the science teacher, that being entrapment.

On one hand, they are forced to sign a professional ethics statement claiming they will not introduce non-science into the classroom, speak on personal opinion, or commit any number of non-scientific fallacies within the course of doing their job.

Are science teachers generally required to sign such a statement ? I was not aware of that. Anyway, “entrapment” is too strong a word – it means luring people into unlawful conduct and then charging them with committing an offense. If teachers comply with a requirement that they teach ID, they could not be charged with committing an offense.

Way to ignore all the hard questions that have been asked about your unethical behavior here, Larry, you maroon.

What a ch*ckensh*t! (My apologies, you younger readers, but really…!)

Andy H (Larry, etc.) I remain curious about your continued violation of Panda’s ethical rule #6: no posting under multiple names.

Are you doing this because you don’t know about the rule? Are you doing this because you’re unethical? Are you doing this because you think no one will notice?

Just curious.

I will, of course, continue to post this until something interesting happens. Boring, but that’s how much research is!

Hi folks.

I know almost nothing about this deal about Larry and Andy being the same person, but if true that is not acceptable. On the other hand, if not true, we should drop the topic.

Therefore, instead of discussing this anymore publicly, please email me at jkrebs AT pandasthumb.org and tell me what you think you know. I will check with the Panda’s Thumb technical administrators and see what we can find out.

Thanks

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank Wrote:

1) we can’t lose. The district has no defense to offer —— they must meet the state standards, and they are not. Case closed.

Revisiting the issue, I suggest you go to this link from the header post, and check out 05-Case. mp3:

http://www.kcfs.org/cgi-bin/ultimat[…]amp;t=000005

The speaker asserts that in KS, it is against the law to have a state-wide curriculum. Since in most states, school boards are composed of independently elected public officials, I doubt it would be a slam-dunk case, regardless of strong state standards. It would merely be two political bodies with differing opinions, and the courts would be reluctant (as they should be) to get in-between them on matters that have a political resolution.

once again, IAAL but this is not legal advice:

Tim Sandefur (who really should show up on this thread) has made the point a number of times that there is no law against bad teaching. (think of all the lawsuits filed for football coaches teaching history.)

so going on the attack requires a state in which there is a mandatory curriculum which includes evolution and a district which refuses to include the minimum requirements of state law.

Here’s a good idea:

http://www.madison.com/tct/news/ind[…]&ntpid=4

Excerpt:

Creationism or intelligent design could not be taught as science in Wisconsin public schools under a first-of-its-kind proposal announced today by Madison state Rep. Terese Berceau.

Under the bill, only science capable of being tested according to scientific method could be taught as science. Faith-based theories, however, could be discussed in other contexts.

Let’s start rounding up friendly state legislators.

Update on Mr Deutsch, Bush campaign worker hired at NASA who was insisting that scientists refer to the Big Bang as “only a theory.” Fired today. Something about lying on his resume. Apparently the notion that he had actually graduated from college was only a theory.

Posted by Doyle on February 8, 2006 10:42 AM (e)

Update on Mr Deutsch, Bush campaign worker hired at NASA who was insisting that scientists refer to the Big Bang as “only a theory.” Fired today. Something about lying on his resume. Apparently the notion that he had actually graduated from college was only a theory.

ROFL. Dude, you could have posted a link. I will have to search for that one.

I will start here.

http://www.nasawatch.com/

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This page contains a single entry by Jack Krebs published on February 4, 2006 10:32 AM.

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