Dembski on Forrest

| 101 Comments

Has Forrest ever debated or had a substantive exchange with any ID proponent?

and

Ironically, last year around this time she published an essay in which she called me a coward.

Let’s look at the context and see if we can answer Dembski’s question.

These tactics by DeWolf and Dembski highlight the bankruptcy of ID and the blustering cowardice of its leaders, who must capture support with brazen deceit and sarcastic punditry. The trial was Dembski’s moment to shine, to explain on the legal record why ID is a “full scale scientific revolution,” as he wrote in The Design Revolution (InterVarsity Press, 2004, p. 19). Instead, plaintiffs’ witness Robert Pennock read to Judge Jones Dembski’s statement regarding ID’s revolutionary status — and then dismantled it. Ironically, Dembski had his arch-critics right where he wanted us — on the witness stand and under oath. He could have been there, implementing his strategy, helping to “squeeze the truth” out of us, “as it were.” In November 2005, after the trial ended, Dembski posted on his “Design Inference” website a pdf made from his May 11 and 16, 2005, “vise strategy” blog pages, labeled as a “Document prepared to assist the Thomas More Law Center in interrogating the ACLU’s expert witnesses in the Dover case.” He appended a list of “Suggested Questions,” which, he wrote, “will constitute a steel trap that leave the Darwinists no room to escape.” But when he had an opportunity to witness firsthand how his trap would operate, he was nowhere to be found. He “escaped critical scrutiny” by quitting rather than face cross-examination. He is apparently $20,000 richer for it, however, marking yet another difference between us: whereas I served pro bono, Dembski charged $200 per hour and threatened to sue TMLC for payment for 100 hours of work he claims to have done prior to quitting.

After ID’s dramatic, unequivocal defeat in Kitzmiller, Dembski’s priorities remained remarkably consistent: “This galvanizes the Christian community. … People I’m talking to say we’re going to be raising a whole lot more funds now.” [70] If failure is that lucrative, one can only imagine how well-remunerated he and his ID colleagues would be if they could tell the truth and back up their claims about “intelligent design theory.”

The “Vise Strategy” Undone: Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District By Barbara Forrest

In other words, Forrest showed up to testify and the outcome of the trial shows how her contributions were instrumental in demolishing the case and exposing the religious foundations of the Intelligent Design movement.

Quite a substantial contribution

Yet, like Dembski, Meyer, and Campbell, neither DeWolf nor Cooper was anywhere in sight when they had a chance to defend ID in court.

And that is the rest of the story. Yes, ID is rightly afraid of the formidable lady as the following excerpt shows

After Forrest had been deposed, the TMLC tried but failed to have her stopped from testifying. In a motion to have her removed as a witness, they described her as “little more than a conspiracy theorist and a web-surfing, ‘cyber-stalker’ of the Discovery Institute…”[1][2] Judge Jones denied the motion and Forrest’s testimony began October 5th.

According to Forrest, after the TMLC’s attempt to exclude her as a witness had failed, and only a few days before she would be testifying, the Discovery Institute attempted to publicly ridicule her on their website. She wrote, “On September 29, I noticed that DI had posted a transcript of an interview I had done— except that I hadn’t done it. The transcript was fake. Apparently meant (though not marked) as a parody, the organization whose self-described goal is ‘to support high quality scholarship … relevant to the question of evidence for intelligent design in nature’ ridiculed me by, among other things, having fictitious radio host ‘Marvin Waldburger’ refer to me as ‘Dr. Barking Forrest Ph.D.’ If DI thought this would unsettle me, they were ignoring the fact that I had just been through two killer hurricanes. I could only shake my head at their doing something so jaw-droppingly stupid. If they were hoping Judge Jones would see and be influenced by this silliness, it was just another sign of the disrespect for his intelligence and integrity that began before the trial and continues today.”[3]

During her testimony the defense would again ask the court to exclude Forrest from testifying as expert witness. Judge Jones allowed them to present their case for dismissing her and then denied their request. Forrest would go on to testify on the religious origins and nature of the intelligent design movement, the wedge document, and also demonstrated that the drafts of the textbook at the center of the court case Of Pandas and People, substituted terms such as “intelligent design” and “intelligent designer” in place of “creationism” and “creator” in an attempt to circumvent the ruling in the Edwards v. Aguillard which determined that teaching creationism in public schools violated the Establishment Clause of the United States constitution. Her testimony had a significant impact on Judge Jones’s decision.

Wikipedia

On Dispatches from the Culture War, Ed Brayton similarly concludes

As for being afraid of Barbara Forrest, one need only look at the incredible lengths the defense went to in the Dover trial to keep her off the witness stand. You see, Bill, Barbara did “mix it up” with the other side and she did so under oath. Guess what? She kicked your ass up one side and down the other. Her testimony was almost as devastating to the ID side as Michael Behe’s was.

Nuff said.

101 Comments

Thanks for this. Dr. Forrest did indeed kick ass - by going to the primary texts.

She kicked your ass up one side and down the other. Her testimony was almost as devastating to the ID side as Michael Behe’s was.

This is what always amuses me most about creationists on trial: no matter how damning our evidence against them is, presenting it will almost never be better than simply having the idiots open their mouths and speak. I’m reminded of one of the creationist trials back in the 80’s where, on the witness stand, a creation “scientist” declared he believe UFO’s exist, but that they were created by Satan. In this decade, we have Behe telling judges that his re-definition of “science” would and should include astronomy. I have a hard time deciding whether I should be outraged by these people, or just laugh at them like a carnival side show.

And pseudoscience advocates want our children to be taught by these people?

I think you might have meant astrology, Sounder. But you are right, it is better to let them speak. That DI ‘barking forrest’ skit is one of the stupidest things I have ever read. Now it says ‘Parody’ though.

Sounder - I’m guessing you meant astrology?

Gah, I always get those two mixed up. Yes, astrology.

Reading this article gave me the urge to go and re-read the judge’s recollection of Behe’s testimony in his judgement. I always laugh when I see their sophistries eviscerated like that.

And after Behe’s public evisceration at the Dover trial, you can bet that Dembski, Meyer, Campbell, DeWolf, Cooper - and Behe - will fight like demons to ever be sworn in to testify and then undergo cross-examination. They’re cowards (much like FL, who refuses to use his real name here).

And, of course, the venue the ID/cdesign proponentsists/ Creationists always prefer is the choreographed debate; never, ever research and peer review. Now that is what cowardliness is all about.

Nonsense, FL may be wrong but I see nothing coward-like in refusing to use one’s real name.

Paul Burnett:

And after Behe’s public evisceration at the Dover trial, you can bet that Dembski, Meyer, Campbell, DeWolf, Cooper - and Behe - will fight like demons to ever be sworn in to testify and then undergo cross-examination. They’re cowards (much like FL, who refuses to use his real name here).

Sounder, “Gah, I always get those two mixed up. Yes, astrology.”

I can almost hear my brother, the professional astronomer and researcher, yelling from here (some 1500 km away). There is no greater insult; I know, from first hand experience.

I think I missed something. Where did Dembski attack Forrest? Link, please?

I can almost hear my brother, the professional astronomer and researcher, yelling from here (some 1500 km away). There is no greater insult; I know, from first hand experience.

Tell him I asked for a horoscope. :D

And there are many reasons not to use one’s real name online, cowardice being the least of them. Let’s not throw accusations around recklessly.

Syntax Error: mismatched tag at line 3, column 119, byte 653 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

She appeared on the letters to the editor pages for years back in the ’90s in the local paper, the Daily Star of Hammond, LA. The creationists have been trying to introduce their agenda into the classrooms of Tangipahoa and Livingston Parishes for quite a long time. Dr. Forrest and several other professors at Southeastern Louisiana University did their absolute best to counter the assault on science. Her experience here is possibly what galvanized her to take action nationally.

She wrote an article about some of her experiences back in 1997.

Dembski is probably well aware of this. The man is a known dissembler.

Apparently meant (though not marked) as a parody,

So why should anybody believe that Botnik’s faked e-mail was a parody?

I’m sorry people, but Dembski clearly wins this round.

I am of course referring to his onging friendly competition with Michael Behe over which one demonstrates the most chutzpah.

Dembski’s impotent challenges to debate Forrest are too funny. What exactly does Dembski think they’d debate about? Not surprisingly he’s never mentioned what the subject matter would be in such a debate.

Would they debate whether or not IDC is science? We already know the answer to that question and when it was debated in a federal court of law, and refereed by a federal judge, Forrest won that debate hands down.

Bottom line is Dembski is mental. He should stick to debating the loons who populate UD where he can continue to simply silence the debates when it’s obvious he’s losing. That’s Dembski’s strength, stifling debate when hit’s obvious he can’t win.

With apologies to Monty Python…

Brave Sir Dembski ran away. (“No!”) Bravely ran away away. (“I didn’t!”) When Dover reared its ugly head, He bravely turned his tail and fled. (“no!”) Yes, brave Sir Dembski turned about (“I didn’t!”) And gallantly he chickened out.

****Bravely**** taking (“I never did!”) to his feet, He beat a very brave retreat. (“all lies!”) Bravest of the braaaave, Sir Billy! (“I never!”)

The cdesign proponentsists are nothing but a bag of answers to Voltaire’s prayer.

Has Forrest ever debated or had a substantive exchange with any ID proponent?

Almost all of you have missed the most important qualifier Dumbski (spelling mistake intentional) threw in there.

Asked to explain what he means by substantive, he would lay down a few conditions, like, IDiots should not be under oath or pain of perjury prosecution first.

Then the rules of debate should offer equal time to 150 years of painstaking research and evidence gathered for evolution and 20 years of refined rhetorical questions created by PR machine for ID.

The judge should be hand picked by an uninterested third party like Behe or TMLC or may be Rick Santorum.

The winner of the debate should be solely judged by the boos and cheers of audience. The ID side should be given sufficient time to rustle up enough loonies from all over the state.

That would be considered just indicators of “substantiveness” of the debate. But whether or not it is truly substantive will be known only by who wins the debate. No prizes for guessing the true indicator of substantiveness. Sorry. Too obvious.

JHM:

You Darwinists were lucky in the Kitzmiller case – there was a biased judge who accepted Forrest’s bigoted conspiracy theory and guilt-by-association principle. The judge’s decision was a foregone conclusion – he was obviously prejudiced against the defendants because he said in a Dickinson College commencement speech that his decision was based on his notion that the Founders believed that organized religions are not “true” religions. You may not be so lucky next time.

Yes. Because a George Bush appointee, well known as a conservative man, suddenly became a flaming liberal when confronted with the Evil Darwinist Conspiracy™. I’m surprised he hasn’t joined Larry Craig in trolling mens’ rooms as it no doubt turned him to “teh Gay.”

Next week, we’ll hear about how he’s started to gun down Christians at church after forcing them to have abortions while singing hymms to Satan.…

JHM:

You Darwinists were lucky in the Kitzmiller case – there was a biased judge who accepted Forrest’s bigoted conspiracy theory and guilt-by-association principle. The judge’s decision was a foregone conclusion – he was obviously prejudiced against the defendants because he said in a Dickinson College commencement speech that his decision was based on his notion that the Founders believed that organized religions are not “true” religions. You may not be so lucky next time.

Lol @ weak trolling. Let me try my hand at it. Well it’s obvious Judge Jones is a christian hating atheist activist and a liberal extremist who has absolutely no ties to president Bush whatsoever. I mean, since the Evilutionists had such a staggeringly weak case, and there were so many top scientists there brilliantly defending ID, it’s apparent that the case was rigged against poor, poor cdesign proponentists who by the way have absolutely no religious affiliation at all.

Moses Wrote:

Yes. Because a George Bush appointee, well known as a conservative man, suddenly became a flaming liberal when confronted with the Evil Darwinist Conspiracy™.

Actually a true conservative, and a Christian who truly believes “thou shalt not bear false witness,” would have done exactly what Judge Jones did. The DI was hoping that Jones was a flaming authoritarian, as the DI is with its insanely liberal idea of what science should be. Do I have to remind anyone of Behe’s admission about astrology?

JHM Wrote:

You Darwinists were lucky in the Kitzmiller case…

Giving you the benefit of the doubt that you’re not trolling, I have some questions:

Do you think that, whether or not “evolution” is the driver, that humans are biologically related to (share common ancestors with) dogs? dogwoods? both (like Behe)? neither? (please clearly pick 1 of the 4 choices - a best guess will do)

Also, do you agree (as many creationists do) that life on earth has a ~4 billion year history? If not, how long a history do you think it has? Be specific, again, a best guess will do.

JHM Wrote:

You Darwinists were lucky in the Kitzmiller case – there was a biased judge who accepted Forrest’s bigoted conspiracy theory and guilt-by-association principle.

Perhaps you would prefer courts in which you are convicting of a heinous crime because of “revealed truth” from the testimony of a “true believer’s” visions instead of being cleared by scientific DNA evidence?

Yes, a biased republican appointed judge who managed to uphold the constitution despite some hopes that he would side with ID.

So many excuses for losing, but nobody seems to take responsibility, it’s all about blame. Then again, what else does ID have to do.

JHM:

You Darwinists were lucky in the Kitzmiller case – there was a biased judge who accepted Forrest’s bigoted conspiracy theory and guilt-by-association principle. The judge’s decision was a foregone conclusion – he was obviously prejudiced against the defendants because he said in a Dickinson College commencement speech that his decision was based on his notion that the Founders believed that organized religions are not “true” religions. You may not be so lucky next time.

Obviously, the Flying Spaghetti Monster (possibly with help from some lasagna or ravioli) interfered with the trial proceedings!

Henry

JHM, you have failed to comprehend the facts. Your predilection for mythology has clouded your eyes.

I suppose the most salient fact is that, despite great claims otherwise, your guys didn’t show up. ‘S a fact.

I can almost hear my brother, the professional astronomer and researcher, yelling from here (some 1500 km away). There is no greater insult; I know, from first hand experience.

My younger cousin took great delight in calling me a scientologist. Scientist / Scientologist what’s the difference.

JHM:

You Darwinists were lucky in the Kitzmiller case

We sure were!

Not lucky to get the ruling – lucky for a chance to parade these charlatans in public.

JHM:

You may not be so lucky next time.

Yeah, they may be smart enough to avoid another court case.

Why should Barbara Forrest debate William Dembski concerning evolution/intelligent design when Dembski refuses to allow open debate on his home blog - Uncommon Descent??

One cannot snuff unfettered discourse in one venue and ask for it in another, period.

Not entertaining stupid questions != running away

Labeling every question you can’t answer as “stupid” is running away.

Bill Gastropod:

Not entertaining stupid questions != running away

Labeling every question you can’t answer as “stupid” is running away.

That, of course, is a mischaracterization. I engaged the only person with even a pretense of knowledge on the topic, i.e., Pill Popper’s Ghost.

Robert O’Brien:

SWT:

Your opinion is noted but why don’t you get to work dealing with your irrational antipathy toward Barbara Forrest?

Whatever dislike I have for B. Forrest, I am not clamoring for her ouster from Bayou U. That separates me from people like you who have an unhealthy fixation with Guillermo Gonzalez and seek his ruin.

“People like you” … you don’t know as much about me as you believe you do. I have never sought anyone’s “ruin” and am certainly not celebrating Dr. Gonzales’s situation. I have never made fun of him, his name, his institution’s name, or his book.

Since you bring him up, I’ll say this. Dr. Gonzales knew what he’d need to do to succeed: teach, get funding, support students, and publish in quality peer reviewed journals. This is clear to anyone starting on a tenure-track position, and is usually emphasized during reviews for reappointment. Dr. Gonzalez failed to meet the requirements for being granted tenure, apparently because he chose to devote a substantial amount of effort to endeavors that were neither fundable or publishable. Bad career choices … I sometimes wonder who started him down that road, and if they feel any guilt for their contribution to Dr. Gonzalez’s current situation. They should.

Robert OBrien Wrote:

That, of course, is a mischaracterization. I engaged the only person with even a pretense of knowledge on the topic, i.e., Pill Popper’s Ghost.

This is quite a damning indictment of your attitude to PT readers and commenters, ROB. You seem to be saying that you refuse to educate someone who does not understand your arguments. Tell me, do you actually hope to be persuasive with that kind of attitude to people?

On the other hand, look back at how frequently people have attempted to educate you when you have failed to understand something.

You provided links in your post to descriptions of Goedel’s ontological argument and Leibniz’s law. I followed your links and read the pages. I did this in an honest attempt to understand your arguments. Yet now you dismiss this effort as “[not] even a pretense of knowledge on the topic”.

Having said that, I did actually find some genuine objections to your arguments which you have totally failed to address.

One commenter challenegd your understanding of Goedel’s ontological argument and Leibniz’s law, and you have not answered his/her questions. In what way is this not running away from a question you cannot answer? I would have thought that you would relish the opportunity to display the depth of your education and understanding of philosophy, since, for a change, you would be in a position to educate us (whose expertise is largely in science rather than philosophy).

Thus, I think Bill Gascoyne’s comment was in no way a mischaracterisation of you. As far as I can tell, it is God’s own truth. There is an wasy way for you to prove me wrong, however: Answer the original question.

Nigel D:

Robert OBrien Wrote:

That, of course, is a mischaracterization. I engaged the only person with even a pretense of knowledge on the topic, i.e., Pill Popper’s Ghost.

This is quite a damning indictment of your attitude to PT readers and commenters, ROB. You seem to be saying that you refuse to educate someone who does not understand your arguments. Tell me, do you actually hope to be persuasive with that kind of attitude to people?

On the other hand, look back at how frequently people have attempted to educate you when you have failed to understand something.

You provided links in your post to descriptions of Goedel’s ontological argument and Leibniz’s law. I followed your links and read the pages. I did this in an honest attempt to understand your arguments. Yet now you dismiss this effort as “[not] even a pretense of knowledge on the topic”.

Having said that, I did actually find some genuine objections to your arguments which you have totally failed to address.

One commenter challenegd your understanding of Goedel’s ontological argument and Leibniz’s law, and you have not answered his/her questions. In what way is this not running away from a question you cannot answer? I would have thought that you would relish the opportunity to display the depth of your education and understanding of philosophy, since, for a change, you would be in a position to educate us (whose expertise is largely in science rather than philosophy).

Thus, I think Bill Gascoyne’s comment was in no way a mischaracterisation of you. As far as I can tell, it is God’s own truth. There is an wasy way for you to prove me wrong, however: Answer the original question.

Actually, Nigel, you seem passing tolerable for a common descent advocate. :) If you would like to put a question to me about Gödel’s Ontological Argument I will try to answer it.

Robert OBrien Wrote:

If you would like to put a question to me about Gödel’s Ontological Argument I will try to answer it.

I went back and found the original challenge. Comment #136396 in this thread: http://pandasthumb.org/archives/200[…]-no-bot.html

Ravilyn Sanders Wrote:

Once the impressive sounding verbiage has been stripped off, the ontological argument and the Leibniz’s Law might have just as much substance as a Tarzan movie. But still, I marvel at the readiness with which Robert O’Brien accepts these to conclude “polytheism is not a viable option”. On the other hand the very same Robert finds it exceedingly difficult to accept a common ancestor between the humans and the chimps, something even Behe conceded!

If the ontological argument and Leibniz’s Law prove that there is one and only one God, it should also be able to prove something so obvious as something does not exist (invisible pink unicorns) and something that exists in more than one number (chimps in the jungle).

On reflection, it is maybe not so obvious that this was a challenge to you, ROB. However, you did not address that aspect of it in your dismissal of the challenge. Instead you simply labelled it “stupid”. Now, I will agree that it appears whimsical or frivolous on the surface, but if one looks beyond the surface, there is a substantive point. That point was simply to demonstrate your understanding of the arguments that you cited to support your position by applying them to a situation where we would all agree on the conclusion (i.e. the existence or non-existence of invisible pink unicorns).

My own questions about Goedel’s ontological argument deal more with the axioms. We have no basis to suppose that anything god-like is necessarily good. Thus, in what way does the ontological argument apply to the Christian god?

I also questioned the applicability of Leibniz’s law to a god-like entity. Surely, a god-like entity is one that is able to transcend natural laws. Leibniz’s law is a natural one. Ergo, it cannot always apply to a god-like entity. Thus, in what way is Leibniz’s law applicable as an argument against polytheism?

Ravilyn Sanders Wrote:

On the other hand the very same Robert finds it exceedingly difficult to accept a common ancestor between the humans and the chimps, something even Behe conceded!

Then we should expect O’Brien to challenge Behe directly, right? Since Behe doesn’t have our prior commitment to (methodological) naturalism, he should be far more easier to debate. The debate can stick to the whats, whens, and hows of the designer’s actions without having to get sidetracked into whether there is designer, how many designers, etc.

Nigel D:

Thus, I think Bill Gascoyne’s comment [“Labeling every question you can’t answer as ‘stupid’ is running away.”] was in no way a mischaracterisation of you. As far as I can tell, it is God’s own truth.

Thanks, Nigel. Note also that while I was responding to ROB, the statement is completely general and not targeted specifically at ROB. I did not use his name or any derogatory variant thereof. To borrow a line from Frank Herbert, I displayed a general garment and ROB himself claimed it as tailored to fit him.

Well, Bill, I did not spot that aspect of the way the comments developed.

I cannot disagree. In general, labelling questions one cannot answer as “stupid” is running away. Not necessarily running away from the debate (although that will obviously pertain in many cases), but potentially running away from a learning opportunity.

I always try to bear in mind that there is no such thing as a stupid question.

Nigel D:

I always try to bear in mind that there is no such thing as a stupid question.

“There are no foolish questions, and no man has become a fool until he stops asking questions.”
Charles P. Steinmetz (1865-1923)

This, of course, presupposes that what is phrased as a question is not in fact a challenge being made for the umteenth time after having been answered many times before. I recall the story of a ’60s professor who entered his classroom to find the words, “Question Authority” on the blackboard. He responded by writing below it the question, “If authority answers, will you listen?” and then proceeding with his lecture with no further comment.

Links to Dr. Forrest’s You Tube Videos entitled,

“Barbara Forrest: The Woman Texas Creationists Really Don’t Want You to Hear”

1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cwvE0owTmk 2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_OLlAfmrQs 3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2m-AT4unW4Q 4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSXxB7JEOOI 5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E97GFmYNaFI

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on December 11, 2007 1:45 PM.

Intelligent Design, Science Literacy and the Case of Antibiotics was the previous entry in this blog.

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