The Dover Trap

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Last January in my public remarks to the Ohio Board of Education after it had narrowly voted to retain the ID creationist lesson plan, I said that “This Board has set a ‘Dover Trap’ for every local school district in Ohio”.

By “Dover Trap” I meant that the Trojan Horse “critically analyze” benchmark and the creationist model lesson plan that operationalized the benchmark tacitly sanctioned teaching intelligent design creationism (in any of its guises) in Ohio schools, and in doing so it exposed Ohio local school districts to the same risk that Dover took. Aside from the pedagogical problems of teaching the intellectual vacuity of creationism, any district that tolerated or sanctioned teaching Wellsian B.S. would in effect be betting $1 million that it was worth teaching.

Father Michael Cochran of the State Board was quoted as saying, “If they think we are wrong — take us to court.” That’s easy for Cochran to say: He wouldn’t pay for anything. But for some little district in Vinton County or Holmes County or Coshocton County, it would be a devastating blow to be so ill served by the Ohio BOE.

In a recent development, the American Family Association has offered similar legal assistance. In a press release its Center for Law & Policy has offered to defend the Ohio State Board if it reinstates the deleted material. (The Ohio ID creationist organization SEAO was a project of AFA.) One can expect that AFA’s defense will be as “free” as the Thomas More Center’s defense in Dover, and worth just as much.

Now that the offending benchmark, indicator, and lesson plan are gone from the Ohio state standards and model curriculum, there is not even the weak justification of State Board action for local Ohio districts to lean on. Any Ohio district that teaches intelligent design creationism-inspired glop now is wholly on its own.

I commend the “Dover Trap” phrase to colleagues elsewhere. Remind local superintendents that neither their state BOE nor their state legislature can protect them from the federal courts, and that they stand to take an enormous hit if they teach sectarian ID creationist pseudoscience, including the “teach the controversy” and “critical analysis of evolution” shams.

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I just sent this to The Columbus Dispatch. I have to say, I'm actually sick to my stomach right now. I don't know if they'll publish it, and I don't care. I'm putting it here, and I feel like I've... Read More

94 Comments

What am I missing?

This is just about science, right? Religion has nothing to do with it.

So why do only legal groups like the Thomas More Law Center and the AFA want to take this to court?

Personally, I’d love to see another case, if only to put one more nail in ID’s coffin, as it doubtlessly would, but first I think Nick needs a rest ;)

The Dover Trap Richard B. Hoppe posted Entry 2026 on February 16, 2006 08:25 PM (opening comment of thread)

Aside from the pedagogical problems of teaching the intellectual vacuity of creationism, any district that tolerated or sanctioned teaching Wellsian B.S. would in effect be betting $1 million that it was worth teaching.

A bill has been introduced in Congress to bar the awarding of attorney fees to winning plaintiffs in establishment clause cases. See – http://www.legion.org/?section=pub_[…]e&id=289

– and –

http://www.legion.org/includes/prin[…]u_magarticle

A lot of people who support a strong separation of church and state ( I generally do – for example, I am strongly opposed to school prayer ) are nonetheless upset by the taxpayer costs of these big awards of attorney fees. The threat of a big award of attorney fees to the plaintiffs in the Dover case was considered to be a significant factor in the ouster of the pro-ID Dover school board members.

How goddamn many names do you plan on posting under, Larry?

Jesus.

The threat of a big award of attorney fees to the plaintiffs in the Dover case was considered to be a significant factor in the ouster of the pro-ID Dover school board members.

Good. (shrug)

But hey, I’ll agree to dropping any and all attorney fees for winners in establishment clause cases, if YOU agree to jail time for any people who are ruled in violation of the establishment clause.

Deal?

blah, blah, blah.

thanks for your 2 cents larry.

why did you switch to using A.C.?

I think Arden Chatfield might get upset with you for using his initials to spout your drivel.

Gentlemen, I trust you have realized by this time that there is another element at work here: Larry (etc.) is fairly clearly ill - in a psychological sense. His need for attention is quite desparate, and his constant variance in Names, while retaining the identical failed argument, is merely another mechanism to get you to pay attention to him.

I realize it’s sad to be so desparately lonely that you have to resort to being ‘annoying’ just to get someone to react, but it seems quite clear that’s what we’re dealing with here.

I don’t have a good suggestion for the mods on what to do about it; he’s sufficiently annoying that he wastes bandwidth that might be spent on productive conversation, and his presence has an adverse effect on the ‘tone’ of discussion, but since I doubt he’s using a single IP address to log in from, the only clear identification mechanism is the tenor of his argument.

And that’s part of the point: he needs to have us know it’s him. This is just another part of the dependency syndrome that he’s suffering from.

It’s interesting to watch; just like it’s interesting to watch the homeless sometime.

But if you actually want him to go away… ignore him. That’s the only thing he can’t handle.

It seems to me “Dover Trap” is nothing more than an old “bait and switch” fraud. As a consumer if I am promised a service at x price, and suddenly find that that service cost me big time via a charge I was not informed ahead of time then I would want to take them to court. In this case a service was promised at a price of $0.00 and the huge hidden charge is the millions in court costs of the plaintiffs that TMLC did not bother to inform Dover that they would have to pay.

I dare say that if that is not illegal, it should be. If someone is going to encourage you to go to court with a promise that you will not have to pay then they should have to pay it all. The exception will be if they are inform you up-front that they will not pay [fill in the blank], that it is likely to be substantial, etc. If lawyers are excempt from truth in advertising then I would like to know why it is so. If they are not then I want to see the TMLC either having to pay the court costs themselves and/or have its lawyers disciplined. Now that would certainly discourage future “Dover Traps.” And if the school districts know up front what they are getting into they might stay out of the mess all together.

Good point Richard B. Hoppe

phrases to remember each time the subject comes up

Dover Trap

and

Creationism Intelligent Design

or

Intelligent Design Creationism

They hate the two being connected in fact it drives them nuts. When the steam starts coming out of their ears and they go Hyperbolic just Remind them that

Not one Nobel Laureate supports Creationism Intelligent Design

and

A Non Activist Conservative Republican Believer, Judge Jones, found that Intelligent Design IS re-badged Creationism.

All that wasted passion, when they could be fighting for something worthwhile like this one Evangelical Leaders Join Global Warming Initiative saving ALL creation.

It seems to me “Dover Trap” is nothing more than an old “bait and switch” fraud. As a consumer if I am promised a service at x price, and suddenly find that that service cost me big time via a charge I was not informed ahead of time then I would want to take them to court. In this case a service was promised at a price of $0.00 and the huge hidden charge is the millions in court costs of the plaintiffs that TMLC did not bother to inform Dover that they would have to pay.

Someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the Dover board was informed. The charge comes from the plaintiffs’ lawyers (i.e. Pepper Hamilton), and the board had been told by their lawyer that they wouldn’t have insurance against the fees if they hired the TMLC, rather than their ususal lawyers.

The full story will be on PT somewhere, of course.

Bob

why did you switch to using A.C.?

I think Arden Chatfield might get upset with you for using his initials to spout your drivel.

On the board where I spend most of my time, A.C. is actually the initials and common nickname of the most prolific poster on the entire site

“Anonymous Coward”

Someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the Dover board was informed.

The board was, yes.

But as far as I’m aware, the voters weren’t exactly.

And it is the voters’ money being spent…

On the board where I spend most of my time, A.C. is actually the initials and common nickname of the most prolific poster on the entire site

“Anonymous Coward”

hmmm, sounds like /. to me

I think the ID pusher strategy includes being in a position where, if they are sued and lose, taxpayers pick up the tab. This way they leverage taxpayer money to spread their gospel.

Skip Evans on February 16, 2006 08:54 PM

So why do only legal groups like the Thomas More Law Center and the AFA want to take this to court?

I can see to reasons to two different aspects of the question.

One, a legal group can represent a defendant only if the defendant retains the legal group to defend him. Perhaps defendants in cases like these retain only legal groups like the the TMLC or the AFA–or, for that matter, Pat Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ)–to represent them. The same goes for plaintiffs who content that their free exercise or establishment rights have been violated.

On the other end, the TMLC, AFA and ACLJ probably bring the cases because it is good for their fundraising, or the fundraising of their parent organizations.

A.C. on February 16, 2006 09:24 PM

The threat of a big award of attorney fees to the plaintiffs in the Dover case was considered to be a significant factor in the ouster of the pro-ID Dover school board members.

The electorate voted the members of the school board into office, who approved the policy that violated constitutional rights. Ultimately, the electorate is responsible for the actions of the school board.

Michael wrote:

It seems to me “Dover Trap” is nothing more than an old “bait and switch” fraud. As a consumer if I am promised a service at x price, and suddenly find that that service cost me big time via a charge I was not informed ahead of time then I would want to take them to court. In this case a service was promised at a price of $0.00 and the huge hidden charge is the millions in court costs of the plaintiffs that TMLC did not bother to inform Dover that they would have to pay.

I dare say that if that is not illegal, it should be. If someone is going to encourage you to go to court with a promise that you will not have to pay then they should have to pay it all. The exception will be if they are inform you up-front that they will not pay [fill in the blank], that it is likely to be substantial, etc. If lawyers are excempt from truth in advertising then I would like to know why it is so. If they are not then I want to see the TMLC either having to pay the court costs themselves and/or have its lawyers disciplined. Now that would certainly discourage future “Dover Traps.” And if the school districts know up front what they are getting into they might stay out of the mess all together.

There seemed to be some confusion among the Dover board members about fees, but the TMLC did set the board straight that they would not cover plantiffs costs before the court case began.

The bait and switch scam was run by the Discovery Institute and their creationist supporters like the ID Network. The rubes in Dover and Ohio got suckered into thinking that they could teach ID, but the Discovery Institute didn’t have anything to teach about ID and tried to sell them the replacement scam instead. Ohio didn’t bother asking for a raincheck they just took the next scam from the Discovery Institute. The Dover rubes didn’t want to take the replacement scam. Essentially they demanded their rights as consumers to get the advertized product. The Discovery Insitute’s ID product had never really existed to sell in the first place, and the Dover rubes had their heads handed to them. Just think what would happen to an entity like Wal-Mart if they pulled a stunt like that?

The SEAO is an example in point. Their old web page used to boldly proclaim that they were going to teach the scientific theory of intelligent design. Just go to the link provided and try and see what they are stuck with now. These guys were supposed to be touted as “academics,” but they didn’t ask for a raincheck they just rolled over and accepted the pathetic replacement scam. Where did the Ohio board, the SEAO, or the Dover board get the idea that there was a scientific theory of ID to teach? What did they get from the scam artists that scammed them about ID? Why did the SEAO and the Ohio board happily roll over and accept the bait and switch scam?

It doesn’t look like improving science education is the goal of these guys. This dishonest mindset is something that you wouldn’t even want to advocate teaching in a social science class.

Ron Okimoto

raj wrote:

A.C. on February 16, 2006 09:24 PM

The threat of a big award of attorney fees to the plaintiffs in the Dover case was considered to be a significant factor in the ouster of the pro-ID Dover school board members.

The electorate voted the members of the school board into office, who approved the policy that violated constitutional rights. Ultimately, the electorate is responsible for the actions of the school board.

This isn’t quite true in the Ohio case. Many (all?) of the creationist supporters on the Ohio board were appointed by the Governor. He even recently claimed that he should have paid more attention to the candidate’s views on this issue before he appointed them. People may snicker at this statement because of the evidence that he put pressure on the board to do just what they did.

Ron Okimoto

Did anyone see the article by “Father Jonathan” on FoxNews.com? He starts out being against teaching ID as science but then:

What do I think? I think that we should send Judge Jones down the hall. Time for Philosophy 101. He should have written this: ID is “a philosophical alternative being marketed for creationist religious reasons as a scientific theory.” Sure, he wanted to sock it to the creationists for trying to get their product sold under a different brand name. He completely misses the point, nevertheless, when he labels ID as religious and not philosophical. It’s philosophy just like Neo-Darwinism is. So pick and choose, or teach both. Of course philosophical theories have their place in education. They’re all over the place! Hint: any time you see an “ism” there’s a philosophy behind it. Marxism, feminism, elitism, environmentalism, vegetarianism, atheism… I could go on, but I don’t want to give an exhaustive description of the entire Harvard faculty. Or maybe what’s okay for them isn’t okay for the rest of America.

Read it here: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933[…]4953,00.html

Ah yes .…the the small c ‘catholic’ perspective, what else can they say .….except maybe materialism is consumerism and not naturalism. Well keep those checks rolling in folks. Judge Jones got it right, but them he IS a protestant.

When “Our Father” is out on a limb and precariously glances back and sees pseudoscience as his only support, he has to call the master manipulator of language and thus reality Mr Murdoch, it the quickest way to spread the ‘good news’. Pure BS of course.….everyone knows an ‘ism can just as easily be denounced as just another witchcraft like.….. oh capitalism.

Our father who art in fox studios Blessed be thy name Thy heaven is yours for the asking Murdock will see it is done On TV as on earth Give us our daily snow job And trespass on our forgiveness As we sit back and read between the lines And lead us not into ignorance But deliver us from propaganda For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. (You hope)

Amen.

Comment #80505 Posted by Mike Elzinga on February 17, 2006 02:13 AM I think the ID pusher strategy includes being in a position where, if they are sued and lose, taxpayers pick up the tab. This way they leverage taxpayer money to spread their gospel.

And I think the strategy of the ACLU and Americans United includes being in a position where, if they sue and win, taxpayers pick up the tab. This way they leverage taxpayer money to spread their gospel. It is the height of hypocrisy for ID opponents to use the high potential taxpayer expenses of these lawsuits as part of their strategy and then scapegoat the ID pushers for these expenses. In particular, the Dover plaintiffs and their legal representatives drove up the award of attorney fees by having a grossly excessive number of attorneys of record, 9-10. Many Americans cannot afford even a single attorney.

Larry your slip is showing

It is the height of hypocrisy for ID opponents Creationism Intelligent Design propagandists to use the high potential taxpayer expenses of these lawsuits as part of their strategy and then scapegoat the Creationism Intelligent Design pushers Creationism Intelligent Design OPPONENTS for these expenses.

Classic Larry In particular, the Dover plaintiffs and their legal representatives drove up the award of attorney fees by having a grossly excessive number of attorneys of record, 9-10. Many Americans cannot afford even a single attorney.

Now there is a Crie de Guerre for you Larry get the cost of Justice down so it is affordable for the “Average American”—Good luck.

I suggest PT start a bathroom wall just for the obvious Larry Fafarman alter egos. I’d expect that Larry would quickly become accustomed to spending all of his time there because of the satisfaction of being surrounded by like-minded individuals, even if they were all just him.

Sir_Toejam Wrote:

I think Arden Chatfield might get upset with you for using his initials to spout your drivel.

I’m not exactly thrilled either.

As far as the “Dover Trap” is concerned, if practical concerns (such as money) keep people with no respect for the constitution from violating it, so be it. Their actions are the cause of every such lawsuit.

I suggest PT start a bathroom wall just for the obvious Larry Fafarman alter egos.

It IS getting goddamn annoying. Especially now that the idiot is talking to himself through his other avatars.

Yes, the guy is obviously mentally ill and needs to start taking his meds again, but that doesn’t mean the REST of us should have to listen to the voices in his head.

As far as the “Dover Trap” is concerned, if practical concerns (such as money) keep people with no respect for the constitution from violating it, so be it. Their actions are the cause of every such lawsuit.

Amen. The simplest way to avoid a big legal bill against you is to not do stupid things which violate the Constitution.

But as I said before, I’m all in favor of dropping legal fees/expenses in First Amendment cases, provided that instead there is JAIL TIME for people who are found in violation.

Ron Okimoto Wrote:

This isn’t quite true in the Ohio case. Many (all?) of the creationist supporters on the Ohio board were appointed by the Governor.

Not all; the two most vocal creationist advocates, and the ones which apparently worked the hardest to recruit creationist shills like Dan Ely and Bryan Leonard, while suppressing complaints from the DoE’s own scientific staff, were Cochran and Owens-Fink, both elected. The appointed members were initially mostly pro-creationism as well (Robin Hovis in particular was not, I think), but the majority of them had switched sides by the time the lesson plan got voted out.

Of the four Board members who were present at the last meeting and voted to keep the lesson plan, only one was appointed (Westendorf, the Board president.) Offhand I can’t recall how many of the absent members that day were appointed.

Good god, we now have both an ‘A.C.’ and an ‘AC’??

Larry, c’mon, either go back to ‘Larry’ or pick out a less confusing name.

Would you like us to pick out a name for you? How about ‘Max Power’? ‘Lance Strongo’? ‘Ima Pseudonym’? I’m sure we could come up with a cooler one than the ones you’ve pulled out so far.

This way they leverage taxpayer money to spread their gospel.

Which is, of course, “don’t violate the constitution.”

Judge Jones recognized the strategy of the Intelligent Design/Creationism movement. Here are his words:

“Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.”

Notice that it is not the OPPONENTS of IDC who are causing the problem. It is the PROMPOTERS who are constantly attacking and bullying.

Lenny’s idea of throwing the IDC pushers in jail may be the only effective deterrent and cost-saving measure. So far, they have gotten off too easily. Everyone else bears the pain and the cost.

People should really listen to the public comments made during the January 10 meeting

Transcripts do not convey the anger in the voices of the citizens commenting on the standards after Owen Finks starts cross-examining one of the commenters.

This is followed by a citizen presenting three boxes of email from the board, obtained through a freedom of information act request.

It also contains the response by the reverend on the board (forgot his name) when he is asked to show some respect and not read the newspaper during the public comment session.

The Ohio Citizens for Science and others have done an excellent job at exposing the problems with Ohio’s ‘teach the controversy’ and have exposed what is really wrong with the DI’s renewed attempts.

The fear was that ‘teach the controversy’ would be used to introduce creationist materials into the class room and indeed, the lesson plan which was submitted and approved (?) contained many of the same ‘arguments’ as found in Icons of Evolutions and an earlier draft even referenced it if I am not mistaken? No wonder that scientists were so outspoken about the lesson plan.

So when Dembski or other ID activists complain that these ‘dogmatic darwinists’ oppose critical thinking, they should familiarize themselves with these cases. It clearly shows that the opposition is NOT against critical thinking but against the loophole it creates allowing poor science or scientifically vacuous ideas to be taught in science classes.

So when Dembski or other ID activists complain that these ‘dogmatic darwinists’ oppose critical thinking, they should familiarize themselves with these cases. It clearly shows that the opposition is NOT against critical thinking but against the loophole it creates allowing poor science or scientifically vacuous ideas to be taught in science classes.

not trying to dull the point you make here, but it’s quite obvious that Dembski et. al. are well aware of the deceitful nature of the arguments they make along these lines. They willfully choose to present their defeat as “opposition to critical thinking” or “repression of ideas” simnply in order to paint themselves the victim.

standard political strategy these days, sorry to say.

I’m really beginning to be concerned about Larry. I think he’s really beginning to show signs of mental illness. Look at these last couple of posts: From Corkscrew: ————————————- Comment #81036 Posted by Corkscrew on February 20, 2006 12:18 PM (e)

Larry, still lying about his identity wrote:

I was disturbed that the ACLU put pressure on Los Angeles County to remove a cross from the county seal.

.…… ————————————-

And then, by “B.F.”:

————————————- Comment #81066

Posted by B.F. on February 20, 2006 02:53 PM (e)

Comment #81036 Posted by Corkscrew on February 20, 2006 12:18 PM

“ I was disturbed that the ACLU put pressure on Los Angeles County to remove a cross from the county seal. “

.…… ————————————-

“B.F.” repeated Corkscrew’s post verbatim, EXCEPT for the line, “Larry, still lying about his identity wrote:” He isn’t even denying it, he’s just ignoring it. Very strange. Does he have multiple personalities?

Hey Larry, why are you posting under multiple names? You’re obviously not fooling anyone. What are you trying to prove? Do you think you’re clever? It’s not entertaining, it’s pathetic.

I’ve also noticed that even since we’ve all started publicly started drawing attention to Larry’s unique Multiple Personality Disorder, he’s starting to get much more crabby and insulting. If you look back on his messages from late December/early January, he seemed to be doing a better job of holding that in check. But the odd thing is, even tho the cause of his increased irritability is totally obvious, he still hasn’t ever acknowledged the cause even once – and he’s STILL posting under multiple aliases. This is very freakish. I’m starting to think he honestly can’t control himself.

I’ve also noticed that even since we’ve all started publicly started drawing attention to Larry’s unique Multiple Personality Disorder, he’s starting to get much more crabby and insulting. If you look back on his messages from late December/early January, he seemed to be doing a better job of holding that in check. But the odd thing is, even tho the cause of his increased irritability is totally obvious, he still hasn’t ever acknowledged the cause even once — and he’s STILL posting under multiple aliases. This is very freakish. I’m starting to think he honestly can’t control himself.

No, he did allude to it once, under one of his many, many, many aliases; he basically said that only a fool would admit to posting under multiple names, and that I should simply shut up about it, since that would make innocent folks worried that they were going to be accused of posting under multiple names, and so they would have to it to avoid persecution.

It didn’t make much sense at the time; but it does contribute to the idea that Larry/Andy/SP/AC/Keely etc. has some serious health issues. His obsessive research on legal issues that no one cared about or bothered to accept in court is simply part of it.

Lonely or ill. Take your pick.

This thread has apparently run its course. Thanks, folks.

RBH

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on February 16, 2006 8:25 PM.

ACLU: America’s intellectual terrorists? was the previous entry in this blog.

Ecstatic because “critical analysis of X” removed from standards? is the next entry in this blog.

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