Writeup on Eric Rothschild in the Pennsylvania Gazette

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A nice long writeup on Eric Rothschild, one of the lead attorneys for the Plaintiffs in the Kitzmiller case, has just come out in the Pennsylvania Gazette, the UPenn alumni magazine. The cover article is entitled “Intelligent Demise” and focuses on Rothschild’s dissection of ID arguments during the trial. Rothschild seems to come off slightly better than fellow UPenn alum Michael Behe…

A second article examines the role a UPenn commission played in debunking spiritualism in the 19th century.

98 Comments

As a Penn grad, I’m proud of Mr. Rothschild - and embarrassed by Dr. Behe.

Nice and interesting article there…

Btw, you can find links to most or all of the Dover transcripts here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmi[…]al_documents

Rothschild’s cross-examination of Behe starts here and the amusing part re: evolution of the immune system is here.

I don’t think the transcripts really highlight the “drama” of the actual cross-exam with a huge heap of books in Behe’s lap, but some excerpts (emphases all mine):

Q. We’ll get back to that. Now, these articles rebut your assertion that scientific literature has no answers on the origin of the vertebrate immune system?

A. No, they certainly do not. My answer, or my argument is that the literature has no detailed rigorous explanations for how complex biochemical systems could arise by a random mutation and natural selection and these articles do not address that.

Q. So these are not good enough?

A. They’re wonderful articles. They’re very interesting. They simply just don’t address the question that I pose.

Q. And these are not the only articles on the evolution of vertebrate immune system?

A. There are many articles.

Q. May I approach?

THE COURT: You may.

Q. Professor Behe, what I have given you has been marked Plaintiff’s Exhibit 743. It actually has a title, “Behe immune system articles,” but I think we can agree you didn’t write these?

A. I’ll have to look through. No, I did not.

Q. And there are fifty-eight articles in here on the evolution of the immune system?

A. Yes. That’s what it seems to say.

Q. And I’m correct when I asked you, you would need to see a step-by-step description of how the immune system, vertebrate immune system developed?

A. Not only would I need a step-by-step, mutation by mutation analysis, I would also want to see relevant information such as what is the population size of the organism in which these mutations are occurring, what is the selective value for the mutation, are there any detrimental effects of the mutation, and many other such questions.

Q. And you haven’t undertaken to try and figure out those?

A. I am not confident that the immune system arose through Darwinian processes, and so I do not think that such a study would be fruitful.

Q. It would be a waste of time?

A. It would not be fruitful.

Q. I’m going to read some titles here. We have Evolution of Immune Reactions by Sima and Vetvicka, are you familiar with that?

A. No, I’m not.

Q. Origin and Evolution of the Vertebrate Immune System, by Pasquier. Evolution and Vertebrate Immunity, by Kelso. The Primordial Vrm System and the Evolution of Vertebrate Immunity, by Stewart. The Phylogenesis of Immune Functions, by Warr. The Evolutionary Mechanisms of Defense Reactions, by Vetvicka. Immunity and Evolution, Marchalonias. Immunology of Animals, by Vetvicka. You need some room here. Can you confirm these are books about the evolution of the immune system?

A. Most of them have evolution or related words in the title, so I can confirm that, but what I strongly doubt is that any of these address the question in a rigorous detailed fashion of how the immune system or irreducibly complex components of it could have arisen by random mutation and natural selection.

Q. I’m just going to read these titles, it sounds like you don’t even need to look at them?

A. Please do go ahead and read them.

Q. You’ve got Immune System Accessory Cells, Fornusek and Vetvicka, and that’s got a chapter called “Evolution of Immune Sensory Functions.” You’ve got a book called The Natural History of the Major Histocompatability Complex, that’s part of the immune system, correct?

A. Yes.

Q. And here we’ve got chapter called “Evolution.” Then we’ve got Fundamental Immunology, a chapter on the evolution of the immune system. A lot of writing, huh?

A. Well, these books do seem to have the titles that you said, and I’m sure they have the chapters in them that you mentioned as well, but again I am quite skeptical, although I haven’t read them, that in fact they present detailed rigorous models for the evolution of the immune system by random mutation and natural selection.

Q. You haven’t read those chapters?

A. No, I haven’t.

Q. You haven’t read the books that I gave you?

A. No, I haven’t. I have read those papers that I presented though yesterday on the immune system.

Q. And the fifty-eight articles, some yes, some no?

A. Well, the nice thing about science is that often times when you read the latest articles, or a sampling of the latest articles, they certainly include earlier results. So you get up to speed pretty quickly. You don’t have to go back and read every article on a particular topic for the last fifty years or so.

Q. And all of these materials I gave you and, you know, those, including those you’ve read, none of them in your view meet the standard you set for literature on the evolution of the immune system? No scientific literature has no answers to the question of the origin of the immune system?

A. Again in the context of that chapter, I meant no answers, no detailed rigorous answers to the question of how the immune system could arise by random mutation and natural selection, and yes, in my, in the reading I have done I have not found any such studies.

Then another great line of questioning later on that page:

Q. And then you stated in the Darwin’s Black Box that, “If the natural mechanism is to be accepted, its proponents must publish or perish.”

A. I’m sorry, can I see that phrase?

Q. Yes, could you go to page 185 and 186 in the chapter “Publish or Perish”?

A. Yes. Okay, and what are you referring to here, sir?

Q. You conclude the chapter called “Publish or Perish” by saying, “In effect, the theory of Darwinian molecular evolution has not published, and so it should perish,” right?

A. That’s correct, yes.

Q. And then all these hard working scientists publish article after article over years and years, chapters and books, full books, addressing the question of how the vertebrate immune system evolved, but none of them are satisfactory to you for an answer to that question?

A. Well, see, that again is an example of confusing the different meanings of evolution. As we have seen before, evolution means a number of things, such as change over time, common descent, gradualism and so on. And when I say Darwinian evolution, that is focusing exactly on the mechanism of natural selection. And none of these articles address that.

Q. Again at the same time you don’t publish any peer reviewed articles advocating for the alternative, intelligent design?

A. I have published a book, or – I have published a book discussing my ideas.

Q. That’s Darwin’s Black Box, correct?

A. That’s the one, yes.

Q. And you also propose tests such as the one we saw in “Reply to My Critics” about how those Darwinians can test your proposition?

A. Yes.

Q. But you don’t do those tests?

A. Well, I think someone who thought an idea was incorrect such as intelligent design would be motivated to try to falsify that, and certainly there have been several people who have tried to do exactly that, and I myself would prefer to spend time in what I would consider to be more fruitful endeavors.

Q. Professor Behe, isn’t it the case that scientists often propose hypotheses, and then set out to test them themselves rather than trusting the people who don’t agree with their hypothesis?

A. That’s true, but hypothesis of design is tested in a way that is different from a Darwinian hypotheses. The test has to be specific to the hypothesis itself, and as I have argued, an inductive hypothesis is argued or is supported by induction, by example after example of things we see that fit this induction.

I love reading about ID’s Waterloo. here’s a great bit.

On the stand, Buckingham countered that neither he nor anyone on the board had ever used that word. “We’d say intelligent design and they’d print creationism,” he complained of the newspapers. In court, Pepper attorney Stephen Harvey ran a video of a Fox 43 television news report that showed Buckingham wearing a cross-and-American-flag lapel pin. In it, he told the interviewer, “My opinion [is that] it’s OK to teach Darwin, but you have to balance it with something else, such as creationism.”

Yeah, those are some classic bits from the transcript. Here’s a fun part that came slightly later than most people miss:

Q. Professor Behe, isn’t it the case that scientists often propose hypotheses, and then set out to test them themselves rather than trusting the people who don’t agree with their hypothesis?

A. That’s true, but hypothesis of design is tested in a way that is different from a Darwinian hypotheses. The test has to be specific to the hypothesis itself, and as I have argued, an inductive hypothesis is argued or is supported by induction, by example after example of things we see that fit this induction.

Q. We’ll return to the induction in a few minutes.

A. Yes, sir. Mr. Rothschild, would you like your books back? They’re heavy.

Q. Help me get to sleep tonight.

A. Thank you.

(Brief pause.)

Reality does have some impact, apparently.

PS: I feel like I should mention that I personally dragged that stack of books from the Berkeley library, to my apartment, and then later walked them to the BART station, then BART to San Francisco International, then on the AirTrain to the right terminal, then flew with them to Harrisburg, then a taxi to the Harrisburg Pepper-Hamilton office. I think someone else took them over to the courthouse – Pepper had a documents-moving guy just to move the necessary boxes of exhibits back and forth each day.

Anyway, if only the Berkeley librarians knew how many miles those books had logged…

I just got to that part of the Gazette story. Great stuff. We’re lucky we had such a good lawyer in Rothschild. Really good work there. (and of course everyone else involved)

The cover article is entitled “Intelligent Demise” and focuses on Rothschild’s dissection of ID arguments during the trial. Rothschild seems to come off slightly better than fellow UPenn alum Michael Behe…

Heh heh. Masterful understatement!

Anyway, if only the Berkeley librarians knew how many miles those books had logged…

the new biology library wasn’t yet complete when i left berzerkely;

how did it turn out?

So the high point of the trial was when Behe was buried under more scientific literature than he could easily lift, all of which directly refuted his claims. And Behe’s response was (1) to admit he hadn’t read it; (2) to claim it couldn’t possibly address his requirements anyway; and (2) to write, after the trial, that “all the other side has is rhetoric and bluster”, (4) to admit that he has done no research of his own. Yet he insists this is science.

I got the impression that Rothschild could have clarified things a bit more in some places, but by and large did a very good job. And to be sure, Judge Jones understood completely and needed no further clarification. I hope Rothschild gets his wish, to prosecute a few more cases.

My favorite bit from the article:

The “explanation of … life that differs from Darwin’s view,” it seems, is not irreducibly complex: No matter what parts of the idea get discredited and removed by scientific review, ID, or some variant, continues to function.

Once more for the record: how did the “Deer in the headlights” story turn out?

search on Buckingham + “I was like a deer in the headlights”

http://www.pennlive.com/printer/pri[…]l&coll=1

When testifying at the trial two weeks ago, Buckingham — a leading proponent of the intelligent-design policy and its implementation — said he was “ambushed” by a television reporter when he was interviewed on June 14, 2004. “I was like the deer in the headlight,” he testified.

Jennifer Sherlock, the Fox 43 reporter who interviewed Buckingham, was not called to the stand.

In an interview, Sherlock said Buckingham not only agreed hours in advance to be interviewed, but used the word “creationism” several times in the interview.

Sherlock said the interview lasted nearly 10 minutes, though only a few seconds of it were used in her report.

In the portion that aired, Buckingham — appearing calm, wearing sunglasses, and sporting a red-white-and-blue lapel pin in the shape of a cross — said, “It’s OK to teach Darwin, but you have to balance it with something else, such as creationism.”

Sherlock said she called Buckingham hours before the meeting. “I told him we were doing a story on the issue and wanted his side,” she said.

Sherlock said she met with Buckingham in a Dover school parking lot prior to the board meeting.

“It wasn’t like he was trying to hide his stance,” she said. “It was a friendly conversation. He was calm. He was just fine. I got the impression he wanted his position out there.”

Perhaps he took so many pills he forgot he wasn’t ambushed.

I am very disappointed in Behe. Not only did he blow it in his testimony on ID in the Dover trial, but the Pennsylvania Gazette article noted that “he did not respond to telephone and e-mail requests for comment for this article,” despite the fact that he has written a long condemnation of the Dover decision. He has been a very poor spokesperson for ID. The right word for Behe is “resign,” not “design.”

Aside from the effort to interview Behe, I thought that the Pennsylvania Gazette article was very one-sided. It contained very little of the views of any people or organizations connected with the Dover defense or ID.

It was interesting to learn that Rothschild apparently had a religious motivation of his own. As a practicing Jew, he apparently feels threatened by the Christian “fundies” who are supposedly the main supporters of ID.

The Dover decision probably marks only the second time in American history (the Selman v. Cobb County textbook-sticker case was the first) that something that on its face appears to have nothing to do with religion – in the Dover case, irreducible complexity – was ruled by a court to be a government endorsement of religion. Jones ruled that ID – which includes irreducible complexity – “cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.” Maybe laws against murder and stealing should be declared unconstitutional because they cannot uncouple themselves from the Ten Commandments.

Ironically, the article called Rothschild a “Philadelphia lawyer” – something of a synonym for “shyster.”

BTW, I wonder what hourly rate Rothschild, as a partner in Pepper Hamilton, a huge law firm of about 400 attorneys, asked for in the calculation of the plaintiffs’ award of imaginary legal costs. The initial bill was a humongous $2.5 million, but the parties agreed to settle for $1 million. See http://www.ydr.com/doverbiology/ci_3533888 It was predicted that the calculated bill would be over $1 million – I had not idea that it would be $2.5 million.

Maybe laws against murder and stealing should be declared unconstitutional because they cannot uncouple themselves from the Ten Commandments

Sure they can. Murder and stealing are illegal everywhere, even in places where they’ve never heard of the ten commandments.

Shut up, Larry.

Larry/Andy:

I had not idea

Well, at least you got one thing right.

But, just for the heck of it, shut up anyway…

The final judgement awarded the plaintiffs lawyers $2,067,226.00 in attorney fees and expenses, which the DASD’s solicitor verified to be a fair estimate. That is the number that should be quoted when warning of the costs of potential litigation. The plaintiffs then agreed on a settlement of $1 million. Approximately one quarter of that is for costs associated with the litigation (such as filing and copying fees), the remainder was split between the ACLU and Americans United - Pepper-Hamilton did not receive any attorney fees.

So again, remember $2,067,226.00 (or over $2 million).

I am very disappointed in Behe… He has been a very poor spokesperson for ID.

I vote for super Larry for ID president!

better get out there and start campaigning, Larry!

Lawrence “I’m not a Holocaust denier just a revisionist” Fafarman posting under the FALSE name of Andy. H. something he has never denied after hundreds of posts says: Ironically, the article called Rothschild a “Philadelphia lawyer” — something of a synonym for “shyster.”

Larry that has eerie echos from the 1930’s care to explain?

Or is the irony .…a lying shyster making a racial slur on a model of citizenship?

Perhaps he took so many pills he forgot he wasn’t ambushed.

hmm, seems i recall somebody else with a similar excuse. Someone who used oxycontin…

I wonder what hourly rate Rothschild, as a partner in Pepper Hamilton, a huge law firm of about 400 attorneys, asked for in the calculation of the plaintiffs’ award of imaginary legal costs.

Hmmm. I wonder.

Approximately one quarter of [the settlement] is for costs associated with the litigation (such as filing and copying fees), the remainder was split between the ACLU and Americans United - Pepper-Hamilton did not receive any attorney fees.

Hmmm. Looks like, um, zero.

The initial bill was a humongous $2.5 million, but the parties agreed to settle for $1 million.

But

The final judgement awarded the plaintiffs lawyers $2,067,226.00 in attorney fees and expenses, which the DASD’s solicitor verified to be a fair estimate. That is the number that should be quoted when warning of the costs of potential litigation. The plaintiffs then agreed on a settlement of $1 million.

I guess Landy Hafarman will do his research next time before making unsupported assertions.….….….just kidding. Good one though, huh? [wipes tear from corner of eye] Whew. I kill me.

Shut up, Larry.

Larry/Andy/Billy-Bob/Sue/whatever you want to call yourself: given your demonstrated — and often admitted — lack of knowledge of the subjects of which you speak; given your constant refusal to answer questions regarding your motives and dishonest use of multiple names; given your blatant repetition of arguments that have been refuted several times before; given your explicitly-stated disregard for all facts and logic that contradict your assertions; given the mockery you now consistently attract; and given your now-obvious reputation as a lonely pathetic dishonest cranky loser; I have to ask the following questions:

Why do you continue posting here, when you are clearly unwilling to deal honestly with us?

What makes you think you can convince anyone of anything here?

What makes you think your assertions have any credibility?

Of course, the easiet thing to do with Larry is just to tell him to shut up (or, depending on the current state of our ever-shifting consensus In Re: To Feed or Not To Feed, to virtuously restrain ourselves from telling him to shut up).

But I must confess to gettin’ my jollies when, ever’ one in a while, Kevin Vicklund hauls out his big whoopin’ stick and just whomps the ever-livin’ tarnation out of our poor wittle Larry-Muffin…!

Thanks, stevie. It’s nice to know my efforts are appreciated, though I do truly understand why some people just wish I’d let him alone. But for me, it is training for the fights I know I have in front of me, and Larry is so easy to refute, it allows me to hone my skills. Heck, most of the sources he pulls in contradict him (remember Blum v. Stenson?) when examined - it’s almost too easy. But I do try to space them out a bit.

I’ve got lots of counters lined up and ready to go, just waiting for one of the Larry-bots to post.

A survey carried out by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press just before the trial began last fall showed that 42 percent of Americans embrace the Genesis account of creation as gospel and regard evolution with a skeptical eye.

Once again, a good article is tainted by a misleading statement. Most of those who “embrace [any one of several mutually contradictory “literal” interpretations of the] Genesis account of creation as gospel” are not skeptical, but selectively incredulous. “Skeptical” means accepting a claim based on evidence. No amount of evidence would convince them of evolution, and no evidence at all is needed for them to believe their favorite origins myth. One has to wonder, though, about the small % that actively promotes anti-evolution propaganda. If they truly believe one of the “literal” interpretations of Genesis, why are they increasingly covering up the flaws and contradictions?

If they truly believe one of the “literal” interpretations of Genesis, why are they increasingly covering up the flaws and contradictions?

ask Carol.

*snicker*

Comment #84643 posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on March 7, 2006 02:22 PM

The final judgement awarded the plaintiffs lawyers $2,067,226.00 in attorney fees and expenses, which the DASD’s solicitor verified to be a fair estimate.

The York Daily Record said that the calculated bill reported by the DASD’s solicitor was $2.5 million. So what is your source?

That is the number that should be quoted when warning of the costs of potential litigation.

Not necessarily – there is no guarantee that another court would hold such a costly trial. In fact, in the district court trial that led to the Supreme Court case of Edwards v. Aguillard, the judge refused to hear any expert scientific testimony at all, saying that the expert witnesses offered by the defendants had played no part in the law’s passage or implementation. Also, another court could simply defer to the Dover decision’s rulings on whether ID is science, or rule that irreducible complexity is not religious because it does not mention anything related to religion, or whatever. Anything could happen. Also, a bill has been introduced in Congress to bar the awarding of attorney fees in establishment clause cases.

The plaintiffs then agreed on a settlement of $1 million. Approximately one quarter of that is for costs associated with the litigation (such as filing and copying fees),

The filing and copying fees are trivial. The $1/4 million in expenses probably went for such things as travel and lodging. Maybe even the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses were reimbursed for travel and lodging – expert witness fees are not allowed in the calculation of expenses in establishment clause cases, but the court has no control over how the award money is distributed.

Anyway, maybe you could tell us the attorneys’ hourly rates that were used in the calculations. An argument that the hourly rates were excessive would probably have been a good negotiating point for the school board.

Larry is so easy to refute, it allows me to hone my skills. Heck, most of the sources he pulls in contradict him (remember Blum v. Stenson?) when examined

And I showed that the Senate report that the Supreme Court cited in Blum v. Stenson did not actually support the decision ! See http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives[…]omment-80901

Comment #84698 posted by Raging Bee on March 7, 2006 03:54 PM

Why do you continue posting here, when you are clearly unwilling to deal honestly with us?

Who are “us” ? Your statement reminds of that story about the time that the Lone Ranger and Tonto were surrounded by hostile Indians, and the Lone Ranger said to Tonto, “it looks like we’re in trouble,” and Tonto answered, “what do you mean, ‘we,’ paleface?”

Kevin claimed:

I’ve got lots of counters lined up and ready to go, just waiting for one of the Larry-bots to post.

batter up!

Larry le pissoir Wrote:

Who are “us” ?

“Us” would be the honest, ethical, informed scientists and scientifically literate posters on this board.

Sorry. You’re not a member of the club.

Syntax Error: mismatched tag at line 25, column 2, byte 5551 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.12.3/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187

Damn. I meant to click Check Spelling.

Anyway, the quick response is that the $2 million figure comes from the actual order signed by Judge Jones, Document 352, of which I have an electronic copy.

I’ll redact the rest of the post tomorrow.

Frank wrote:

“If they truly believe one of the “literal” interpretations of Genesis, why are they increasingly covering up the flaws and contradictions?”

What “flaws”? What “contradictions”? What cover ups? Who is they? Whoever they are, why don’t they seriously consider the literal interpretation of the original Bible that has been demonstrated to be entirely in agreement with science? Why does not the scientific community find a way to highlight this important development? What are “they” afraid of? Are “they” covering up their fear that this will demolish the party line to the effect that science discredits the Bible?

Mention Genesis and science in a more recent post, and see if she pops up again.

Mention Genesis and science in a more recent post, and see if she pops up again.

Here, this should flush her out in a hurry:

Hey! Carol! Noah’s could never have happened! There’s absolutely no evidence for a worldwide flood! And Methuselah could never have lived to be 900 years old! And there are two contradictory creation myths in Genesis!

There. Works just like a bird call. Expect her in no more than 5 minutes.

Comment #85207 posted by Flint on March 9, 2006 09:55 AM

One connotation (among others) of a Philadelphia Lawyer is someone knowledgeable enough of both the law and relevant decisions, to be able to use the letter of the law to circumvent the intent of the law.

Yes. And if you are a Philadelphia lawyer who is good at pointing out gnats, it is good to have a judge who tends to strain at gnats and swallow camels – e.g., Judge Jones.

No one wants to hear what you say, Larry.

In a fascinating new experiment, 8-celled chorella “colonies” have been shown to have more functioning neurons between them than all of the multiple personalities clustering around the alleged human entity known as Larry/Andy FarFromHisMeds.

(The experimenters were forced to concede, in a footnote authored by grad student B. L. Astfromthepast, that even the far more typical one-celled cholera might well have more functioning intellectual capacity than Larry: “However, that was not the focus of our work, and we’re really not in a position to comment further at this time.”)

Shut up, maroon.

The second attempted use of “chorella” came out as “cholera” in the above post.

My apologies to single and multi-celled chorella everywhere. No offense was intended to any pond scum anywhere (other than the maroon).

Arden Chatfield Wrote:

And there are two contradictory creation myths in Genesis!

And several more major “creationist” interpretations thereof, such as flat-earthism, geocentrism, YEC, day-age, gap, progressive OEC, and the increasingly popular “don’t ask, don’t tell. It’s all kind of moot though, since most major Biblical religions don’t take the accounts literally. And with DADT, even pseudoscientific anti-evolutionists are slowly abandoning them as well.

Flint Wrote:

You’re assuming that is automatically a bad thing! Justice and the law are not identical concepts.

Yes, this was exactly my point. The pejorative version of Philadelphia Lawyer is the person who uses the law to circumvent justice. This is only a bad thing if you are NOT the guilty party, and it’s wonderful if you are.

And without disagreeing, my point is the positive view (the one very very popular in Philadelphia): a Philadelphia lawyer uses the law to circumvent law.

There’s a story told of (I think) Commodore Vanderbilt the robber baron calling in his lawyer and saying “Find me a legal way to do this.” His lawyer replied, “But sir, doing this is not legal!” and Vanderbilt said, “I know, but that’s not the question I asked.” Finding a legal way to do what’s not legal is where a Philadelphia lawyer really shines.

And without defending robber barons, in many cases the law’s attempt to regulate economics is crude and heavy handed. Depending on the circumstances, I could easily find the above example to be a positive sense of Philadelphia lawyer.

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on March 6, 2006 2:07 PM.

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