The Legal Culture’s Intellectual Standards

| 21 Comments

Larry Moran has a long post here reflecting on the DI’s portrayal of Judge Jones as a plagiarist. At first, Moran felt that Jones had really done something wrong, but he appears to have taken to heart the explanations here and elsewhere that judges are expected to follow the proposed findings of fact of the party whom they find most convincing. It seems like a simple, innocent misunderstanding. But Moran goes on to make comments that seem like criticisms of the legal culture’s standards of ethics and “standards of brilliance,” that I think deserve some discussion.

Read the rest at Positive Liberty

21 Comments

I do agree that DI is making too much hay of Jones’ copying. However, DI has said, quite forcefully, that it is not accusing the Judge of plagiarism in his opinion: “WorldNetDaily is covering the Judge Jones’ copying story, as is the Associated Press, The York Dispatch, and the AgapePress (note: the last article inacurrately states that we are faulting Judge Jones for “plagiarism,” which we aren’t; he copied extensively from the ACLU, but in judicial circles that would not be called plagiarism).” You can find that quote here: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2006/1[…]es.html#more.

What DI is suggesting, which seems sensible, is that those that were falling over themselves to praise the judge’s “genius” were actually praising the ACLU lawyers who represented the plaintiffs. The fact that the judge did not humbly correct his worshipers and point them in the direction of the true gods, the plaintiffs’ attorneys, shows that his love for the adulation outweighed his moral sense of giving credit where credit is due.

Judge Jones may have ruled in favor of the correct party in Dover, but his opinion is not the second coming of McCullough v. Maryland. By elevating Jones to almost iconic status, without applying a critical eye to his opinion, you opened yourself up for these sorts of irrelevant attacks.

While typing this I just discovered that DI has apparently found evidence that suggests that Judge Jones may have in fact plagiarized portions of his Dickenson College speech: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2006/1[…]ize_sch.html

go away, Larry

these sorts of irrelevant attacks

That they are.

Sir Piggies & Jam, I fear Larry M may not take your meaning, which is I think that a certain ‘Thomas Aquinas’ is in fact a Larry of another flavor.

“While typing this I just discovered that DI has apparently found evidence that suggests that Judge Jones may have in fact plagiarized portions of his Dickenson College speech.”

Another Di lie.

see my comment: http://brightline.typepad.com/law_e[…]science_and/

Beats me what the norm is for attribution in legal decisions. I’d expect that the most important thing to note would be if the Judge was going outside of what was presented during trial. That would be a big deal and he would have to justify it.

Someone should pull up other examples and compare them. The lawyers involved don’t seem to think that it is a big deal, and according to them it is common practice, so what are the standards?

The most important and meaningful part of the DI’s claims revolves around the fact that the target audience (most everyone) is unaware of the details, or even normal practice, of the law. And because they are unaware, they have no way to place the decision and procedures into any legal context.

The DI, whatever else they are, are masterful PR and propaganda purveyers. What they’ve done is taken the legal procedures and juxtaposed them into the context of something most people DO understand - crafting original material. Anyone who has been through school and had to write an essay knows that copying someone else is considered a very very serious offense. So the DI’s task is to position legal decisions as original essays, which everyone can understand and few realize isn’t the goal of a legal decision.

This in turn is part of the larger goal of neutralizing a stinging defeat. The DI knows that the overwhelming majority of their target audience doesn’t know what the initials “ACLU” stand for exactly, but they know that ACLU=EVIL, unAmerican, an arm of the commies, and out to destroy our Christian nation and way of life. Painting Jones as a puppet of the ACLU is a genuine PR coup.

And as always with the DI, honesty is to be deployed only when it serves ideological goals. Given the DI’s goals, this happy coincidence is vanishingly rare.

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Dangit.. sorry for the error on my earilier comment. I’ll just repeat it here and you can delete the other

Anyways, Isn’t Moran’s statement, “I like to credit people who originate ideas rather than people who copy them,” essentially saying he wants one of those so-called activist judges the DI (and others) accused Roberts of being not so long ago?

As an attorney I can say that this is a non-issue. The DI is simply trying to exploit the public’s lack of knowledge regarding the legal system. Much in the same way they do regarding biological sciences.

JaLo, that’s a nice way to sum up events of the past couple of years and the past couple of weeks in a just couple of sentences.

JaLo Wrote:

As an attorney I can say that this is a non-issue. The DI is simply trying to exploit the public’s lack of knowledge regarding the legal system. Much in the same way they do regarding biological sciences.

You’re missing the point of the original article - it isn’t about what the DI is trying to do. We all know what that is.

The point is that Moran - while claiming to be a supporter of science -continues to misrepresent and distort the workings of the legal system.

In doing so, he is actually playing into the hands of the anti-science crowd. How so? Recall that this anti-science theme is not stated in a vacuum. It is part and parcel of the total package of the so-called ‘religious right’. Also recall that another constant theme of that movement is that the legal system is set up to be against them and their followers. I won’t bore you with all the references. Therefore, when we - the supporters of science - set out to describe how the legal system works, we have to be accurate about it. For sure, the other side isn’t going to be.

I’m not saying that Moran can’t express himself - of course he can. But when he expresses himself ignorantly, he ought to be called on it.

I found a paper on the web which seems to intelligently discuss the adoption of one side’s PFOF:

http://72.14.253.104/search?q=cache[…]lnk&cd=1

It also discusses ghostwriting decisions and other legal documents, something that might also shock Moran’s sensitive character. And I bring this up because it is well known that Supreme Court decisions are mostly written by law clerks or other flunkies, which would appear to be more questionable than largely adopting and adapting someone’s PFOF.

continuing from above:

One has to remember the ghostwriting of Supreme Court decisions when considering that it has said that “wholesale adoption” of PFOFs was improper, though it appears as if no decisions have been thrown out because of it. I couldn’t hazard a guess as to whether Jones’s decision comes close to wholesale adoption of the plaintiffs’ PFOF, as I’ve not read the decision nor the criticisms of it (except in bits). But I would not think that it would be “wholesale adoption” so long as Jones was picking and choosing pieces to quote or to paraphrase. I’m guessing that this is the case, since I suspect that the DI would mention that huge running blocks were spliced together with only a few seams.

Larry Moran seems to have fallen too much for his hopes and dreams of a judge who knew well not only the law, but also had a nearly impeccable understanding of science and of the philosophy of science. Yes, I can see that his idol has fallen before his eyes, but it was his naivete that set up this idol in the first place. In a way I do hate to comment on this without having read much of the mass of relevant documents (and have not commented much previously, but I thought this link was useful, and I think I can comment on Moran’s unreasonable expectations), however it seems worth noting that I always assumed that Jones had been working closely off from the evidence. He’s not a scientist, Larry, which is why experts and expert testimony are called in. He’d be a fool of a judge to significantly re-work the evidence, considering that he’s no scientist. Apparently Moran would be happier if Jones had tried his hand at science writing, rather than doing his job, finding in favor of the arguments from science which were presented.

We know from this forum just what a mess of things the scientific illiterates make of the evidence. No doubt Jones would do better than most scientific naifs, since he understands evidence and its rules, but it is not for him to rework the science and philosophy presented to him. He’s not a scientist or a philosopher, hence he had better stick quite closely with the expert testimony he was given. This is the sort of case that deals in fairly deep epistemological matters, which a judge should be able to understand well enough when presented to him, but which he does not grasp in full. No wonder Larry thought so well of Jones when he supposed that Jones was writing without close reference to the expert testimony, since he apparently thought that Jones was himself acting as science and philosophy expert. Admirable if true (though perhaps not in writing the Kitzmiller opinion), yet an unreasonable belief on Larry’s part.

I cannot think that Larry is actually from some culture which differs so very much from US practices as he supposes. Are judges in the UK, or on the continent, acting as science and philosophy experts? If so, they do very well indeed, but I doubt that it is so.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

The average DI reader assumption: ACLU is evil. Judge Jones quoted ACLU. Therefore Judge Jones is evil.

So I doubt DI cares to make a plagiarism or “99%” copied issue the main thing here. It’s just that it was the ACLU that Jones copied. That is enough to drive their propaganda on this issue. Simply pushing DI to answer WHY Jones should NOT have not have copied ACLU would be great to expose DI propaganda. Until the anti-ACLU bias (an unreasonable one at that) is brought front and center and exposed ID can keep dancing around the issue and their average reader’s opinion is not swayed one bit.

Sir Piggies & Jam, I fear Larry M may not take your meaning, which is I think that a certain ‘Thomas Aquinas’ is in fact a Larry of another flavor.

well, I certainly give Moran credit for knowing what he has and has not posted, and since he, at least, always posts with his own name rather than Larry (my name is legion) Farfromsane, I’m sure he won’t take offense.

Googler,

Googler Wrote:

The point is that Moran - while claiming to be a supporter of science -continues to misrepresent and distort the workings of the legal system.

Can you give me some examples where I misrepresent and distort the workings of the legal system? I’d be happy to correct them if you can find them.

If you can’t find any, then you might want to think about changing your mind.

Thomas Aquinas wrote:

The fact that the judge did not humbly correct his worshipers and point them in the direction of the true gods, the plaintiffs’ attorneys, shows that his love for the adulation outweighed his moral sense of giving credit where credit is due.

Why is it that the defenders of ID always accuse the other side of seeking praise, adulation, worshipers, and true gods? Just a case of projection?

Larry Moran Wrote:

Can you give me some examples where I misrepresent and distort the workings of the legal system? I’d be happy to correct them if you can find them.

That train has already left the station.

See here:

The Legal Culture’s Intellectual Standards

and here:

Moran’s Continued Expressions of Ignorance

A great philosopher once said, “It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.”

The point is that Moran - while claiming to be a supporter of science -continues to misrepresent and distort the workings of the legal system. In doing so, he is actually playing into the hands of the anti-science crowd.

That’s pretty funny. Larry may well be confused and stubborn but the “anti-science” crowd isn’t going to get very much mileage out of any “hand” that Larry provides. For starters, his audience of readers seems sorta tiny. Of course, a steady supply of links doesn’t hurt …

Why is it that the defenders of ID always accuse the other side of seeking praise, adulation, worshipers, and true gods? Just a case of projection?

exactly that, nothing more than projection, often combined with denial.

such classic defense mechanisms, that the creobots as a whole have actually resurrected much interest in Freud’s theories, for real.

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This page contains a single entry by Timothy Sandefur published on December 14, 2006 7:18 PM.

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