April 2008 Archives

Creationist Nathaniel Abraham’s lawsuit against the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution—which PZ Myers discussed in this post, and which Hyphoid Logic discussed at length last month—has been thrown out by a federal judge in Massachusetts for procedural problems. The judge did not need to hear oral arguments, or to issue a long opinion; in a single-sentence order he merely ruled against Abraham because he did not file the lawsuit within the proper time period after receiving a notice from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and because the defendant—Woods Hole scientist Mark Hahn—could not be personally sued under the federal law in question. Abraham argued that he did not actually receive the notice, but he failed to allege as much in his complaint, and the defendants pointed out that courts presume that such letters are received about a week after they are sent—while Abraham filed his lawsuit more than a year after it was sent.

The decision is not a ruling on the merits, and might be appealed. The case is Abraham v. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, et al., No. 07-12237 (D. Mass.)

I’ve been having a very interesting exchange with a noted First Amendment scholar about the degree to which the amendment does or does not bar the state from requiring children to be taught things. The question boils down to this: may the state require that children be taught certain substantive things (evolution/sex-ed/disputed historical events—what have you) in private schools? Or does the Constitution put limits on the state’s power to do so?

(Read the rest at Freespace…)

I think this willful act of deception has corrupted creationism irredeemably.
   - John Derbyshire

Conservative author John Derbyshire, writing in the National Review Online, pulls no punches. His article is ostensibly a review of Expelled, with an approving nod to Expelled Exposed. One of the problems in discussing creationism with ordinary decent people is that creationism has become so bad that one can’t explain how bad it is without sounding extreme. Derbyshire:

These dishonesties do not surprise me. When talking about the creationists to people who don’t follow these controversies closely, I have found that the hardest thing to get across is the shifty, low-cunning aspect of the whole modern creationist enterprise.

My own theory is that the creationists have been morally corrupted by the constant effort of pretending not to be what they are. What they are, as is amply documented, is a pressure group for religious teaching in public schools.

Political creationists must pretend not to be creationists. This is in addition to avoiding any real understanding of how nature works, so that they can go on believing in their “critical analysis of Darwinism”. The strain of all this pretending is starting to show very publicly. The excesses of Ben Stein’s Expelled go way beyond your daily quote mine, and will backfire with many people. Is creationism now a loser in national politics?

Continue reading A Blood Libel on Our Civilization at the National Review.

John Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the makers of Expelled, on the grounds that they did not get Ono’s permission to use portions of Lennon’s hit song “Imagine” in the movie. The case is Yoko Ono Lennon, et al. v. Premise Media Corporation (S.D.N.Y., No. 08-03813).

(Read the rest at Freespace…)



I’m currently updating our website to use some new technology that I’ve come up with to improve our readers’ experiences: Xomment.

Comments will now be panelized.

Comment preview and response will be done on the same page. No more refreshes needed.

There will also be a bathroom wall hosted on this site, already linked to above.

The “academic freedom” and “critical analysis” bills currently being considered by the Florida legislature are old stratagems borrowed from antievolution efforts in other states. Ronda Storms and Alan Hays have been asked whether “intelligent design” could be taught in science classrooms. Storms and Hays steadfastly refuse to answer the question posed. You have to look at what has been done in the name of narrow religious antievolution and not what is said.

(Originally at the Austringer.)

On Pharyngula, PZ Myers treats us with an incredibly accessible explanation why chromosome number can change.

The posting was in response to an email PZ received about the evolution of chromosome numbers.

How did life evolve from one (I suspect) chromosome to… 64 in horses, or whatever organism you want to pick. How is it possible for a sexually reproducing population of organisms to change chromosome numbers over time?

Firstly: there would have to be some benefit to the replication probability of the organisms which carry the chromosomes

Secondly, the extra chromosomes need to come from somewhere. I’m not sure about this, but I believe chromosome number are not determined by genes, are they? …

Ben Stein lies about Sternberg and Kitzmiller Lauri Lebo reviews Expelled

PvM: My apologies to Lauri Lebo for misspelling her name as Laurie

Unevolved “Mark Mathis”


expelled movie exposedThis interview is just too good to ignore. The Real Detroit Weekly reports on the movie “Expelled”. The interview shows what had already become painfully clear to me having listened the SciAm interview: namely that Mathis is poorly informed on the issues of evolutionary theory. Whenever challenged by the SciAm editors, Mathis would first try to respond only to find himself overwhelmed by the facts and respond with “I am just an associate editor” and claim unfamiliarity with the facts. Why is it that ID works best in the shadows of ignorance?

Point in case

I confront Mathis with this point, and he counters that evolutionary theory is also untestable. This is patently untrue—to give just one example, scientists have witnessed speciation, the arisal of a new species from an old one.

When I point this out, he interrupts me immediately: “Whoa! Wait a minute! Please send me whatever material you have that demonstrates that we can observe speciation because I have not seen anything. I’ve never heard anyone even claim that!”

Is he serious? He’s just produced a film about evolution, and he’s never heard of the fact that speciation has been observed and thoroughly documented in the scientific literature? I’m stunned. I send him peer-reviewed research confirming this fact via e-mail, and he later responds, “This isn’t an important argument for me.”

expelled movie exposedThe God Connection

Baylor University’s newspaper the “Lariat” reports on “Expelled”, exposing once again that Intelligent Design is a theological concept.

Robert Marks, a professor at Baylor and Intelligent Design proponent, commented

“I thought it portrayed things pretty well as they are �– that science by decree of entrenched Darwinism has no room for a God hypothesis,” Marks said. “I on the other hand think that one cannot pursue truth without consideration of a creator.”

Marks said if science defines science as void of a creator, then it’s not a pursuit of truth.

Same with associate producer Mathis

“You have a science department that’s denying a god,” Mathis said

Reuters reports on an interesting development namely that Yoko Ono sues “Expelled” filmmakers over Imagine.

John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, and his sons are suing the filmmakers of “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” for using the song “Imagine” in the documentary without permission.

Lennon recorded the song in 1971 and in 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it No. 3, in their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, according to the lawsuit.

Yoko Ono, son, Sean Ono Lennon, and Julian Lennon, John Lennon’s son from his first marriage, along with privately held publisher EMI Blackwood Music Inc filed suit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan seeking to bar the filmmakers and their distributors from continuing to use “Imagine” in the movie.

They are also seeking unspecified damages.

Is this an issue of freedom of speech?

Still just a lizard

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research

The title gets the principal objection of any creationist out of the way: yes, this population of Podarcis sicula is still made up of lizards, but they're a different kind of lizard now. Evolution works.

Here's the story: in 1971, scientists started an experiment. They took 5 male lizards and 5 female lizards of the species Podarcis sicula from a tiny Adriatic island called Pod Kopiste, 0.09km2, and they placed them on an even tinier island, Pod Mrcaru, 0.03km2, which was also inhabited by another lizard species, Podarcis melisellensis. Then a war broke out, the Croatian War of Independence, which went on and on and meant the little islands were completely neglected for 36 years, and nature took its course. When scientists finally returned to the island and looked around, they discovered that something very interesting had happened.

Continue reading "Still just a lizard" (on Pharyngula)

In Open Letter to a victim of Ben Stein’s lying propaganda Richard Dawkin’s responds to a letter by someone who, after seeing “Expelled” sent the following email

Now I truly understand who you atheists and darwinists really are! You people believe that it was okay for my great-grandparents to die in the Holocaust! How disgusting. Your past article about the Holocaust was just window dressing. We Jews will fight to keep people like you out of the United States!

I am posting this as a courtesy to Professor Hector Avalos. I did not add a single word to Avalos’s message, nor made any change in his text.

The Discovery Institute has written a glowing account of the debut of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed in Ames, Iowa, the home of Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez, the pro-ID astronomer at Iowa State University. Prof. Hector Avalos, also of Iowa State University, tells a different story based on his eyewitnes account, and it does not bode well for Expelled nationwide. Continue reading Expelled pseudo-documentary bombs in Gonzalez’s backyard in TalkReason.

We have a confession! It was made by Michael Edmondson, and it was produced by the people behind Expelled. He wrote to me, and says, "The intent of the video has been questioned a lot…I suppose the answer is that I tried to make something that was funny to me and It's not really meant to convince anyone of anything." That's how I felt about it: it's amusing, and that's all that matters — it's vague enough that it can be read any way you want.

Edmondson has also made a brief sequel.

Note that Stein is wearing a t-shirt that says "Poe's Law".

expelled movie exposedThe first Box Office numbers are in. Expelled opened in 8th place with $1.2M in revenues in 1,052 theatres resulting in a $1,141 per theatre revenue. You do the math. At an average of 5 showings this makes $220 per showing or 30-40 people. Expelled ranks 4th in the list of “new releases”

While the weekend has just started the movie will have to do some hard work to match the expectations of the PR people:

“He said they would consider the opening weekend successful if the movie sold 2 million tickets (earning $12-15 million).”

[Update: Source: Brad in Stranger Fruit Comment section]

In context, Fahrenheit 9/11’s opening weekend grossed $23.9 million in 868 theatres grossing $27,558 per theatre and $8,565,000 on it’s first day

Remember that the movie is also heavily subsidized and Churches etc will receive large discounts.

Expelled in context at Rotten Tomatoes


Epsilon Clue puts the Rotten Tomato ratings of Expelled in the context of some real clunkers. A couple of selected entries:

Plan 9 from Outer Space: Ed Wood’s famously-bad movie starring Bela Lugosi, who died after shooting only five minutes of film: 62%. Granted, this is skewed by the camp value of the result.

The Dukes of Hazzard: Car chases and short shorts. Not exactly Oscar material. 14%

Left Behind: Sappy melodramatic Christian porn: 12%


And finally, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, the plucky new documentary that blows the lid off the anti-creationism conspiracy: 9%.

Shoot, Ben Stein can’t even beat the Britney Spears epic Crossroads (not the one PZed was interviewed for) which made a stellar 15%. Read the full post at Epsilon Clue.

expelled movie exposedFrom Dembski’s ‘backyard’ comes a review by the Waco Tribune of “Expelled”

Carl Hoover Wrote:

Though Stein presents himself as a man of rational logic, his film’s arguments are a rhetorical mishmash of straw men, red herrings, guilt by association, quote harvesting, gotcha interviews and post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this) associations that may cause your head to pop. It’s a propaganda form highly polished by director/activist Michael Moore on the other end of the political spectrum.

Not bad for starters.

While ID proponents have spent much time on a ‘documentary’ which misrepresents science, the scientific community and fails to present any scientifically relevant explanations related to the concept of Intelligent Design, real scientists have been working hard to unravel another mystery: the origin and evolution of the placenta

In a paper titled Genomic evolution of the placenta using co-option and duplication and divergence researchers Kirstin Knox and Julie C. Baker (soon to be published in Genome Research) describe how they have started to unravel the mystery of the placenta

The invention of the placenta facilitated the evolution of mammals. How the placenta evolved from the simple structure observed in birds and reptiles into the complex organ that sustains human life is one of the great mysteries of evolution. By using a timecourse microarray analysis including the entire lifetime of the placenta, we uncover molecular and genomic changes that underlie placentation and find that two distinct evolutionary mechanisms were utilized during placental evolution in mice and human. Ancient genes involved in growth and metabolism were co-opted for use during early embryogenesis, likely enabling the accelerated development of extraembryonic tissues. Recently duplicated genes are utilized at later stages of placentation to meet the metabolic needs of a diverse range of pregnancy physiologies. Together, these mechanisms served to develop the specialized placenta, a novel structure that led to expansion of the eutherian mammal, including humankind.

expelled movie exposedThe NY Times has a hard hitting review titled “Resentment Over Darwin Evolves Into a Documentary”


One of the sleaziest documentaries to arrive in a very long time, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” is a conspiracy-theory rant masquerading as investigative inquiry.



Mixing physical apples and metaphysical oranges at every turn “Expelled” is an unprincipled propaganda piece that insults believers and nonbelievers alike. In its fudging, eliding and refusal to define terms, the movie proves that the only expulsion here is of reason itself.

expelled movie exposedSteve Mirsky from Scientific America reports on Never You Mine: Ben Stein’s Selective Quoting of Darwin

Steve Mirsky Wrote:

One of the many egregious moments in the new Ben Stein anti-evolution film “Expelled” is the truncation of a quote from Charles Darwin so that it makes him appear to give philosophical ammunition to the Nazis. Steve Mirsky reports.

Ayn Rand Institute: Expelled Gets an F


expelled movie exposedThe Ayn Rand Institute has released a Press Release

“Intelligent design advocates will do anything to advance their views–except science.

“The reason for that is simple: doing science has never been their goal. Their goal is to make biblical creationism appear scientific in order to skirt the constitutional ban on religion in public schools. Contrary to the film’s claims, the real dogmatists are not the defenders of Darwin, but the religiously motivated advocates of intelligent design.”

Contest: Set Ben Straight


expelled movie exposedExpelledExposed.com has announced a contest to “Set Ben Straight

In promoting the creationist propaganda film Expelled, Ben Stein managed to stick his foot in his mouth over and over again, issuing what seemed to be a ceaseless stream of ignorant, offensive, and just plain daffy claims. Here’s your chance to set Ben straight. Send your favorite claim to [Enable javascript to see this email address.] along with a refutation. We’ll post the best for all the world to see. And five lucky entrants will receive a year’s subscription to Reports of the NCSE along with their choice of a book from NCSE’s shelf – including such useful books as Mark Isaak’s The Counter-Creationism Handbook, Eugenie C. Scott’s Evolution vs. Creationism, and the AAAS’s The Evolution Dialogues: Science, Christianity, and the Quest for Understanding. But you only have ten days, and a wealth of silliness to examine, so act now!

expelled movie exposed

A series of interviews with ID true believers has him playing Michael Moore–dumb—no hard questions for the folks at the Discovery Center, whose infamous leaked 1993 “wedge memo” stated as one of its primary goals the propagation of the idea “that nature and human beings are created by God.” ID’ers protest that they’re simply interested in secular alternatives to Darwinian evolution; their scientific opponents, meanwhile, are potential Communists and Nazis. Bizarre and hysterical.

The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online

This site contains Darwin’s complete publications, thousands of handwritten manuscripts and the largest Darwin bibliography and manuscript catalogue ever published; [Click to enlarge] also hundreds of supplementary works: biographies, obituaries, reviews, reference works and more.

BeliefNet: Expelled review (D)


expelled movie exposedBeliefNet reviews Expelled

There may be a good argument to make on behalf of teaching Intelligent Design in science class, but this documentary from Ben Stein does not make it. The movie itself is an example of design by faith and emotion rather than intelligence, defined as rationality grounded in proof. Instead of making a straightforward case for Intelligent Design as a scientific theory, Stein employs misdirection and guilt by very tangential association to try to make his case.

TV Guide: Expelled (1 1/2 star)


expelled movie exposedTV Guide reviews Expelled

It’s hard to pinpoint the most insulting aspects of this obvious propaganda piece from Ben Stein, the eye-drops spokesman, conservative writer and pundit whom most people remember from a bit part in FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF.

Manufactroversy: ExpelledMovieNews.com


expelled movie exposedWhile searching for “Expelled” on Google I was offered the following ‘sponsored link

News About Expelled Movie
Latest news, articles and updates
on Ben Stein’s new movie - Expelled


expelled movie exposedIn Paste Magazine we read:

The filmmakers confirmed that they did use the track without permission, but they insist that their legal counsel told them it was fair use protected under the First Amendment due to the fact that they only used 25 seconds of it.

expelled movie exposedIn the Salt Lake Tribune we read about the dishonesty

Alas, the movie’s makers (Stein and co-writers Kevin Miller and Walt Ruloff, and director Nathan Frankowski) don’t debate honestly. Stein mocks university officials for not “getting off [their] script,” but says nothing about the repetitive talking points from the ID crowd. The ID folks complain that the term “evolution” is too vaguely defined, and yet never adequately define what “intelligent design” is. They swear they aren’t espousing religion, then try to discredit the leading evolutionary biologists - such as Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers - because they are atheists. Oddly enough, the tactics employed in “Expelled” undercut the movie’s argument, most notably in the interviews with Dawkins and Myers and in Stein’s trip to Darwin’s British home (now a museum). Either the filmmakers suckered these participants under false pretenses, or the evolutionists are more open to debate than Stein suggests. Perhaps the intelligent-design proponents know that in a truly open debate, their argument isn’t fit enough to survive.

expelled movie exposedIn the Discovery Institute’s ‘backyard’ the Seattle Times reports on “Expelled”

A hard-core, fundamentalist bit of right-wing propaganda, “Expelled” slyly appropriates its style from liberal and left-wing sources, sending Ben Stein out to do deadpan interviews with a grab-bag of people, while intercutting old movies, new animation and newsreel footage.

This is all fine — a number of comedy shows and documentaries have been hard-core, left-wing propaganda, serving up more red-meat entertainment than useful information. But Jon Stewart is a lot funnier than Stein.

Nuff said

Some Expelled News from Kansas


1. Expelled opens in Lawrence today. The newspaper gives it one star out of four, offering this review:

Droning funnyman Ben Stein monkeys around with evolution with the new documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a cynical attempt to sucker Christian conservatives into thinking they’re losing the “intelligent design” debate because of academic “prejudice.”

2. On the other side of the scale, the Intelligent Design network sent an email to many teachers and others in public education in the Kansas City area, saying, in part:


And, lest there be any doubt what the true motivation for Expelled is, check out this screen grab from the “Leader’s DVD” handed out at preview screenings…

expelled movie exposedE! Reviews gives it an “F”

Review in a Hurry: A flunkout of a documentary, this features Ben Stein—still best known for his monotone “Anyone…anyone?”—advocating creationism, er, intelligent design, in science classrooms. Stein’s credibility is blown on this poorly constructed diatribe, and you’d be smart to save your bucks.

expelled movie exposedLies, damned lies and “intelligent design’

It’s nuttiness right from the opening moments of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Images of Nazi atrocities and the terrors of life behind the Berlin Wall are smugly deployed in an attempt to editorialize away basic scientific fact. In a saner universe, you could scoff at Stein and not give his nonsense another thought. But we don’t live in that universe. We live here, where the religious insecurity of a scientifically illiterate populace is being twisted by people who certainly know better.

expelled movie exposedThe Chicago Tribune’s Roger Moore reviews “Expelled” ‘Expelled:No Intelligence Allowed’ (Ben Stein monkeys with evolution) and gives it a 1 star (poor) rating

Stein and friends use animation (shades of “Bowling for Columbine”), amusing chunks of B-movies and even “The Wizard of Oz” and classic propaganda techniques to undercut 150 years of peer-tested research. Their goal? Create just a sliver of doubt about evolution. It’s a classic Big Tobacco/”Inconvenient Truth” denial tactic.

expelled movie exposedAnother ‘stellar’ review by the Star Tribune titled Movie review: Propaganda piece “Expelled” flunks

According to “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” the source of all evil in the modern world is Darwinism, a philosophy that, the film posits, is responsible for everything from atheism to abortion, euthanasia to the Holocaust.

expelled movie exposedAlthough “Expelled” has been receiving mostly negative reviews from the mainstream media and scientists, creationist organizations other than the Discovery Institute, AIG and ICR (both Young Earth Creationists) have remained cautiously silent. For instance, The Reasons To Believe (RTB) Scholars appeared to be suspicious about Expelled but refrained from any recommendations but now that they have seen a pre-release screening they have sent an email which can be found on the Calvin College ASA discussion list.

Dear RTB Chapter members,

With the impending release of “EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed” (April 18), the Reasons to Believe scholar team thought it best to prepare a statement of our position, a guide for answering questions from chapters, networks, and apologists. Keep in mind that the mission of RTB centers on reaching out to science-minded people with two purposes:

FSM “Expelled”


“Everything that exists was created by a loving Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM)…” is the credo of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

However, the concept has met with significant suppression from the Ivory Tower Academia. In a hard hitting video, soon to be released worldwide, the producers of “FSM Expelled” expose the real controversies which are not being taught by the Ivory Tower Academia.

Read on…

Casey Luskin is currently in the middle of a multi-part “rebuttal” to Michael Shermer’s review of Expelled. In the latest installment of his whine, Casey (again) brings up the case of Richard Sternberg. Sternberg, some of you might remember, orchestrated the publication of a pro-Intelligent Design paper near the end of his term as editor of Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington.

As punishment for this heinous crime, Sternberg suffered the indignity of not getting fired from the unpaid editorship that he had quit months before the paper actually appeared. His punishment further included the cruel and unusual steps of not dismissing him from his unpaid position as a Smithsonian Research Associate, not declining to renew the unpaid position when the term expired, and not firing him from his paid job at NIH. The draconian nature of the consequences that he ultimately suffered - some of his colleagues said bad things about him - obviously makes him the ideal example of an open-thinking scientist railroaded by the Darwinian Inquisition.

I’m not going to deal with the vast majority of Casey’s attempt to obfuscate the real events that surrounded the whole Sternberg affair. He raises absolutely no new points, and all of the points that he does raise have been rebutted before. Instead, I’m going to focus on two points in Luskin’s post where he massively misrepresents things that other people wrote.

Read more at the Questionable Authority, where comments may be left:

On Monday, April 14th, Florida Citizens for Science, the Florida ACLU, and many other groups sponsored a press conference and panel discussion criticizing the “academic freedom” and “critical analysis” bills currently filed in the state Senate and House, respectively. The bill in the senate, the one still misusing the “academic freedom” phrase, is scheduled to go to the floor on the 17th. That will be today very shortly. I am not terribly optimistic about the outcome, since it seems that the legislators didn’t bother to turn out for the events on Monday, and the mainstream media invented some stuff out of whole cloth, but mostly failed to report on the full range of reasons why the bills under consideration are bad for Florida’s schools, students, parents, and business.

I’ll summarize what was actually said at the press conference. The segments may incorporate both paraphrased and verbatim passages.

Yoko Ono, Filmmakers Caught in ‘Expelled’ Flap

By ETHAN SMITH Wall Street Journal, 4/16/08

Having ruffled feathers in the scientific community, the filmmakers behind a documentary questioning evolution theory have now incurred the wrath of one of the most powerful figures in the popular music business, Yoko Ono, and have generated a blogosphere mini-drama in the process.

The flap concerns the film’s use of the song “Imagine,” by the late John Lennon. Bloggers had accused Ms. Ono, Mr. Lennon’s wife, of selling out by licensing the song to the filmmakers. In fact, her lawyers say, she never granted permission for its use.

In a written statement, the film’s three producers – Walt Ruloff, John Sullivan and Logan Craft – acknowledged that they did not seek permission, but they called the use “momentary.”


Edit: There’s more, apparently.

UPDATE 4/17: According to a comment at the music blog “The Playlist”, the Killers were apparently snookered into granting license to use their music for “Expelled”, after the producers characterized the movie thusly:

The film is a satirical documentary with an estimated running time of 1 hour and 50 minutes, exploring academic freedom in public schools and government institutions with actor, comedian, economist, Ben Stein as the spokesperson.

Which is a bit like Leni Riefensthal describing “The Triumph of the Will” as “an inspirational documentary about German political discourse”. [hat tip: Quidam at AtBC]

Tangled Bank #103

The Tangled Bank

The 103rd edition of the Tangled Bank is now online at the Nature Network!

Ben_Stein_mitt_uns copy.JPGIn the absence of evidence or solid logical arguments, Creationists have long resorted to the strategy of quote-mining, the purposeful misrepresentation of scientists’ opinions by selective or distorted quotation of their words, to buttress their claims. With the Creationists behind the movie Expelled hard at work to demonstrate that “Darwinism” was a necessary pre-condition for the Holocaust and Hitler’s primary inspiration, it was only a matter of time before historians suffered the same fate. Enter David Klinghoffer, the Discovery Institute’s hired hit-pen and journalistic hatchet job expert.

Expelled Paternity Test


expelled movie exposed On AntiEvolution.org, “midwifetoad” presents us with the following Challenge, in response to Bill Dembski’s posting at UcD where he refers to a variety of websites to ‘explain’ the similarities between the XVIVO rendering of Kinesin and the one found in “Expelled”… You be the judge…

Expelled Exposed I normally do my evolutionary posts here at the Panda’s Thumb, but given the astronomical nature of this item, I’ve posted it over at Astroblog.

Kenv Miller is the screenwriter of the ID propaganda film Expelled. He’s been carrying on about how consensus in science is repression. Apart from the irony of quoting science fiction author and global warming denier Michael Crichton as an expert on the role of consensus in science, there is a complete lack of understanding of the history of science. Miller makes this jaw dropping statement.

By your logic, it was right for Galileo to be persecuted for his views, because the overwhelming majority of astronomers were certain that geocentrism was right and heliocentrism was wrong. The evidence was just so overwhelmingly obvious. The same goes for virtually any other scientist that revolutionized his discipline.

Can’t these people get their history right?

Read how ID supporters can’t even get basic science history right at Astroblog.

expelled movie exposedThe ExpelledExposed website reads “The full ExpelledExposed.com site is experiencing particularly high traffic at the moment. We are working to resolve this problem as quickly as possible”

Such is the cost of success that the site could not handle the bandwidth needed to serve all the interested parties.

expelled movie exposedAt Open Parachute, Ken Perrott explains to us in a posting Expelled - no integrity exhibited the level of disarray at Premise Media.

I was recently approached by Stacy Schlicht from the firm Rogers & Cowan who are the publicity agent for the film “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.” Stacey offered me the chance to interview one of the filmmakers Ben Stein. I accepted the offer, which quickly became a “teleconference” open only to an “exclusive” group selected on the basis of submitted questions. After dutifully submitting my 5 questions I am informed that the teleconference planned for yesterday has now been postponed until the 18th - the planned launch date for the film.

T Ryan Gregory at Genomicron who is an evolutionary biologist specializing in genome size evolution at the University of Guelph in Canada educates us (and perhaps some ID proponents) about some of the common pitfalls in phylogeny. In this case, the posting discusses the findings in a recent paper which argues that the comb jellies and not sponges are the earliest branch.

ExpelledExposed.com has gone live


Another video by DonExodus2 below the fold discussing the infamous list of ‘scientists’ rejecting evolution.

PS: DonExodus mentions that You DeWitt received his undergraduate degree from Case Western Reserve University it was his PhD degree. Minor detail.

From the Biography page at AIG: Dr David A. DeWitt received a B.S. in biochemistry from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Case Western Reserve University. Also the lastest List of ‘doubters’ includes the correct affiliation for DeWitt as Liberty University. The list analyzed by DonExodus is the original list of ‘doubters’

New Scientist review of ‘Expelled’


expelled movie exposedExpelledExposed.com has the full text of the review by New Scientist

New Scientist reviews ‘Expelled’

This seems to be the next step in sneaking ID into schools after the Kitzmiller vs Dover case saw the compulsory teaching of ID ruled unconstitutional in 2005. Last month, a press conference held by the Discovery Institute to promote the proposed bill included a screening of Expelled.

Ultimately, the Discovery Institute’s support may be the film’s undoing. The institute has argued long and hard that ID is not about religion, yet in the film the connections are explicit. If challenged on this, the institute may have to distance itself from the film, discrediting Expelled in the process.

Time Magazine Reviews ‘Expelled’


expelled movie exposedTime Magazine’s Jeffrey Kluger critically reviews ‘Expelled’

I love the following ‘gap’ argument rebuttal

More dishonestly, Stein employs the common dodge of enumerating all the admittedly unanswered questions in evolutionary theory and using this to refute the whole idea. But all scientific knowledge is built this way. A fishnet is made up of a lot more holes than strings, but you can’t therefore argue that the net doesn’t exist. Just ask the fish.

expelled movie exposedOn Austringer, Wesley Elsberry discusses Michael Shermer’s (Scientific American) posting how during the showing at Pepperdine University, ‘extras’ were brought in as ‘students’ since the movie producers were concerned that there would otherwise not be enough attendees.

Shermer Wrote:

It was with some irony for me, then, that I saw Ben Stein’s antievolution documentary film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, opens with the actor, game show host and speechwriter for Richard Nixon addressing a packed audience of adoring students at Pepperdine University, apparently falling for the same trap I did.

Actually they didn’t. The biology professors at Pepperdine assure me that their mostly Christian students fully accept the theory of evolution. So who were these people embracing Stein’s screed against science? Extras. According to Lee Kats, associate provost for research and chair of natural science at Pepperdine, “the production company paid for the use of the facility just as all other companies do that film on our campus” but that “the company was nervous that they would not have enough people in the audience so they brought in extras. Members of the audience had to sign in and a staff member reports that no more than two to three Pepperdine students were in attendance. Mr. Stein’s lecture on that topic was not an event sponsored by the university.” And this is one of the least dishonest parts of the film.

The core concept of Dr. Michael Behe’s recent book “The Edge of Evolution” (Behe, 2007) is that protein-protein binding sites are extremely unlikely to have developed by natural means, and therefore were designed by unknown intelligent agents. There is a lot of interest in this concept, as the tag cloud at PT indicates. A recent paper (Grueninger et al., 2008) on human design of binding sites undermines some of his key assumptions, but what is more interesting is an old paper cited in Grueninger that shows researchers have known for some time that evolution of protein-protein binding sites is not as difficult as Behe makes out. Indeed, his very premise was invalid from the beginning.

banner.jpg In Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed–Scientific American’s Take, Scientific American ‘flunks’ the movie.

John Rennie, Michael Shermer and Steve Mirsky all watched Ben Stein’s new antievolution movie. Here’s what they had to say about its design flaws.

Shermer reviews ‘Expelled’

In a new documentary film, actor, game show host and financial columnist Ben Stein falls for the pseudoscience of intelligent design

In Ben Stein’s Expelled: No Integrity Displayed John Rennie reviews the movie

A shameful antievolution film tries to blame Darwin for the Holocaust

However, they provide us with an even more precious resource namely two mp3 files of a Podcast with Mark Mathis, one of the associate producers of the movie.

Download part 1

Download part 2

Why are these Podcast files so important?

The Bad Idea Blog: Expelled

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expelled movie exposedBad: The Bad Idea Blog has a variety of excellent articles on ‘Expelled the Movie’.

“Bad” is not a mystery man, nor famous enough for anyone to care about the mystery, but he doesn’t (and more importantly his employers don’t) much like being Googled in any case. You’ll just have to be content knowing that he’s a swell science geek in his 30s who has been a long-time yammerer in the science, skepticism, and unbeliever community under various silly pseudonyms.

expelled movie exposedWesley Elsberry shows how Ben Stein and Mark Mathis contradict each other about when the movie ‘Expelled’ changed its title. This is important because critics of ID were interviewed for a different movie with a different theme, and yet it seems that the producers already knew that the movie was going to be about a very different theme. This would strengthen the claims by ID critics that they were misled.

Wesley Elsberry Wrote:

Remember how Mark Mathis, producer of “Expelled”, kept going on about how the “Crossroads”/Rampant Films thing was what they had in mind while interviewing Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, Eugenie Scott, and others, then they decided to chuck all that and go with the “Expelled” concept? It seems that Mathis should have had a session with Ben Stein so that they could make their stories match. Stein was interviewed by the New York Sun and by the WORLD magazine, and there are several interesting things about the content of his responses.

Read the rest at The Austringer

Read all about how Expelled ‘Flunked’ at ExpelledExposed.com

One of the central themes within Expelled is the equation of Darwinism with Nazism. We are treated to a somber Ben Stein visiting the death camps. Without Darwin they wouldn’t have existed goes the simplistic viewpoint. Yet, before we criticize Stein and the producers of the movie, we must acknowledge that there are scientists - biologists even - who harbor(ed) anti-Semitic views. Witness the following:

By their own will, [Jews] prefer to live a separate life, in apartheid from the surrounding communities. They form their own communes (kahals), they govern themselves by their own rules and they take care to maintain also a spatial separateness. They form the ghettos themselves, as districts in which they live together, comparable to the Chinatowns in the USA. It was only Hitler’s Germany that created the concept of forced separation, of a closed ghetto from which Jews were not allowed to leave.

Jews are not pioneers. They do not go conquering the wild world or overpowering the hazards of nature. They settle among other civilisations, preferably among the rich. They tend to migrate from poorer to richer lands.They do so always as a group, immediately forming their own separate community.

So who wrote this? Hitler? Darwin? Dawkins? If I tell you that the writer was interviewed for Expelled, does that help you guess who it is?

Wander over to Stranger Fruit to find out and leave comments.

Let’s don’t and say we did. That’s what kids used to say when someone suggested doing something that the others didn’t want to do. And that is the point of special laws or standards that single out evolution for special treatment. Let’s find a way to say we are doing it, but still not require it, or fudge quite a bit.

At first glance the bill, as amended by the Florida House of Representatives yesterday, looks like a strong endorsement of teaching evolution. And state Representative Hays, the bill’s main sponsor in the House, says

Don’t try to read something in there that isn’t already there. It’s direct and to the point. Any good science theory that is a valid theory should be able to withstand a critical analysis.


But it singles out evolution for odd special treatment, so a closer look is in order.

banner.jpgYet another scathing review, this time from the Huffington Post’s Valerie Tarico. The meme of a “Manufactroversy” combined with meme of ‘flunked’ seem to be catching on.

How long have creationists been talking about “Darwinism” as if no one but Darwin had noticed the fossil record or the DNA code in the last 100 years? It does get tiresome, responding to their ever evolving anti-evolutionary rhetoric. But we need to expose the bizarre supernaturalist agenda behind all the sudden whining about academic freedom. And somebody needs to gently remind Stein and his creationist cronies that they haven’t been expelled from school, they flunked.

But that is but a mild criticism compared to what else Valerie is telling us.

Read all about how Expelled ‘Flunked’ at ExpelledExposed.com

banner.jpgDavid Bolinsky, the medical illustrator responsible for the “Inner Life of the Cell” animation has sent an email to Richard Dawkins which he allowed to be shared. In this email, he outlines how he believes the hard work of his team, which involved over fourteen months of preparation, was apparently used by ID proponents in their own works.

Read all about how Expelled ‘Flunked’ at ExpelledExposed.com

As fossil snake with two legs


Another creation myth bites the dust [1]. As reported on the BBC site Ancient serpent shows its leg, scientists have uncovered a fossil of a snake with two legs.

Scientists have only a handful of specimens that illustrate the evolutionary narrative that goes from ancient lizard to limbless modern serpent.

In other words, this fossil helps fill in a major gap in the fossil data. The snake fossil is called Eupodophis descouensi.

[1] Although see this blog

Egg on your face…

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Our confused Christian friend William Wallace has his own blog site where he posted an article about “Where is the ACLU now?”

William Wallace Wrote:

After the government funded Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA) in Minnesota stonewalled conservative journalist Katherine Kersten, a substitute teacher by the name of Amanda Getz spilled the beans about the Islamic school.

Afterward, Getz said, “teachers led the kids into the gym, where a man dressed in white with a white cap, who had been at the school all day,” was preparing to lead prayer. Beside him, another man “was prostrating himself in prayer on a carpet as the students entered.” “The prayer I saw was not voluntary,” Getz said. “The kids were corralled by adults and required to go to the assembly where prayer occurred.”(Kersten 4-9-2008)

Where is the ACLU? The ACLU was all over the Dover PA school district for merely suggesting that life might have been designed by some unidentified creator as a violation of the so-called separation of of church and state. But here in Minnesota, it is “halal” (kosher) to fund Islamic schools.

If William Wallace had done his homework and done some original research (something I have been encouraging him to do so) he would have known that the ACLU had indeed sent a letter objecting to exactly these practices. What was so funny or sad is that the letter was a month old…

Once again we see how foolish comments can turn into something much bigger.

expelled movie exposedOn Higgaion, Chris Heard, associate professor of Religion at Pepperdine University exposes how vacuous ‘Expelled’ really is. Remember how SciAm did a review of ‘Expelled’ and an interview with Mathis, associate producer of “Expelled”. Knowing that whenever an Intelligent Design Creationist gets to speak, there will be some jewels, Chris shows how also in this instance, Mathis did not disappoint.

Ever wonder why people like Ken Miller or Francis Collins are not in “Expelled”? Mathis explains by first disavowing himself of the decisions about who to interview

Mathis Wrote:

I would tell you this. And this is keeping in mind who you’re talking to is an associate producer. I don’t make decisions about who gets interviewed, and, and I don’t make decisions about if they’re interviewed, what makes it into the film.

expelled movie exposedWesley Elsberry has an interesting posting on the topic “Expelled” and the copyright issue.

Wesley Elsberry Wrote:

“Expelled” is a production linked into the persecution stories at the heart of IDC. They have had months of discussions and correspondence with the principal figures of the IDC movement. They likely have recordings of discussions in meetings and other places where all these folks felt free to chat.

There is a serious line of inquiry as to whether there was collusion to infringe on the copyright of XVIVO.

Egnor gets it right


Michael Egnor seems to have a hard time getting the Discovery Institute’s message that Intelligent Design is not about religion.

In an attempt to show a contradiction in Larry Moran’s position on censorship and educational responsibilities, Michael Egnor makes his usual set of flawed arguments. It does not take a brain surgeon to see the obvious flaws in Egnor’s logic.

First of all, somewhat ironically but refreshingly honest, Michael Egnor explains how Intelligent Design is all about religion.

Dr. Moran believes that students and untenured scientists who accept the possibility of intelligent design in nature and who don’t share his atheist metaphysical beliefs should be investigated regarding their beliefs, should be flunked regardless of their grades if their beliefs are found wanting, and should be denied tenure if they get past the materialist filter and make it through graduate school. Is Dr. Moran genuinely “opposed to censorship of any kind”?

We can all agree here with Egnor that Intelligent Design is a religious concept. However, he is still conflating two very different issues. One is the issue of censorship and one is the issue of providing a responsible education to students, and graduate students. If such students’ metaphysical believes cause a conflict with their ability to do science, then there may indeed be a sufficient reason to ‘flunk them’. And this has nothing to do with atheism but all with sound education. While it is true that atheists are more likely to accept sound science, this should not be confused with science being materialistic or atheistic.

There’s been legal action at last. XVIVO just couldn’t stand by and let their work be stolen and used for vile purpose.

Dear Mr. Craft:

This letter will constitute notice to you, as Chairman of Premise Media Corporation, of the copyright infringement by your corporation, and its subsidiary, Rampant Films, of material produced by XVIVO LLC, in which XVIVO holds a copyright.

It has come to our intention that Premise Media and Rampant Films has produced a film entitled “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” which is scheduled for commercial release and distribution on April 18, 2008.

The story is already up at ERV’s and Henry’s. Regular readers know that this matter has a history. Newby’s can start with links at ERV’s. NCSE has the legal letter in beautiful pdf format.

But I want to pose this question: how many theaters, if any, will show Expelled on 18 Apr 2008? And should you aid your local theaters by explaining the matter?

The FoxNews review by Roger Friedman is in, and it reads like one of those Muppets in the theater balcony wrote it. Skip past the top-of-the-page stuff about Mariah Carey. Down. Further down. Next to “Buy a Link Here”, there it is: “Ben Stein: Win His Career”.

After seeing a new non-fiction film starring Comedy Central’s Ben Stein, you may not only be able to win his money, but also his career.

Stein is that whiny little guy with the monotone voice that makes him seem funny and an unlikely “character” for TV appearances. But that career may be over come April 18 when a movie he co-wrote, narrates and appears in, called “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” is released.

Directed by one Nathan Frankowski, “Expelled” is a sloppy, all-over-the-place, poorly made (and not just a little boring) “expose” of the scientific community. It’s not very exciting. But it does show that Stein, who’s carved out a career selling eye drops in commercials and amusing us on sitcoms, is either completely nuts or so avaricious that he’s abandoned all good sense to make a buck.

To wit: Stein, Frankowski and pals say in “Expelled” that perfectly good scientists and educators are being stigmatized for wanting to teach their students creationism and “intelligent design” — in other words, junk science — in addition to or instead of conventionally accepted Darwinism. You see, Stein, like some other celebrities, finally has shown his true colors and they aren’t so pretty.

There’s more good stuff. Go read.

Hat tip: Ross Myers.

(Originally posted at the Austringer)

Anything Goes

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Anything goes in science class in Florida if the “Evolution Academic Freedom” bill passes. The bill advanced strongly today, passing the Senate Judiciary Committee by 6 to 3, or 7 to 3 by another count. (We still have trouble counting votes.)

The bill’s first provision after its name is:

9 (2) As used in this section, the term “scientific

10 information” means germane current facts, data, and peer-reviewed

11 research specific to the topic of chemical and biological

12 evolution as prescribed in Florida’s Science Standards.

Who decides what is germane or peer reviewed? Individual teachers and students are given rights under the bill. This right is not precisely stated but in no way denied either, and they would need that right in order to enjoy the other rights granted under the bill. If everything from germane through peer-reviewed is one conjunction then topics must be both germane and peer reviewed, in at least one person’s opinion. Creationists will insist that anything of interest to them is germane, and they also claim, except when under oath, that specific scientific papers support creationism. They also claim indirect support from numerous other papers via quotation abuse, or quote mining as it is known online. If germane (in someone’s opinion) and peer reviewed (in someone’s opinion) are taken to be separate sufficient conditions then absolutely anything goes. Florida’s fine new science standards will just be “if you want to”.

Truth Tickets

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banner.jpg Alonzo Fyfe at “Atheist Ethicist” challenges his readers to buy a Truth Ticket to offset anyone contributing to the dumbing down of America by buying an “Expelled” ticket.

Send the equivalent value of a ticket (say $10) to the NCSE using the NCSE Donation Page

James Lippard is blogging this interesting development.

What irony that “Expelled” helps funding the NCSE which is doing great work exposing “Expelled” as being ‘flunked’.

The new generation of creationists has been doing something rather remarkable. Flaming anti-scientific religious nutcases like Wells and Dembski have been diligently going to real universities, not the usual hokey bible colleges, and working hard to get legitimate degrees in actual fields of science and math to get themselves a superficial veneer of credibility. It's basically nothing but collecting paper credentials, though, since they don't actually learn anything and never do anything with the knowledge they should have acquired, other than use it to razzle-dazzle the rubes.

One other example is Paul Nelson, and today is the anniversary of an infamous interaction. You see, Nelson likes to flaunt the pretense of being knowledgeable about developmental biology. Several years ago, he invented this mysterious metric called "ontogenetic depth" that he claimed to be measuring, and which he claimed to have used as evidence that the Cambrian fauna did not evolve. He even dragged this nonsense to professional meetings where he was ignored, except by vicious anti-creationists. I harshly criticized the entire vacuous notion. (I also expressed sympathy for the poor graduate student Nelson had lured into this waste of effort…it was Marcus Ross, remember him?)

He said he'd write up a technical summary that would explain exactly what ontogenetic depth was and how it was measured. He gave us a whole series of dates by which he'd have this wonderful summary. Every one of those dates sailed by without a word. And ever since we have commemorated Paul Nelson Day on 7 April, one of the dates in 2004 that he promised us an explanation. Here's my anniversary timeline from last year.

I was just reminded that last year at this time I announced an anniversary. In March of 2004, I critiqued this mysterious abstraction called "ontogenetic depth" that Paul Nelson, the ID creationist, proposed as a measure of developmental and evolutionary complexity, and that he was using as a pseudoscientific rationale against evolution. Unfortunately, he never explained how "ontogenetic depth" was calculated or how it was measured (perhaps he was inspired by Dembski's "specified complexity", another magic number that can be farted out by creationists but cannot be calculated). Nelson responded to my criticisms with a promise.

On 29 March 2004, he promised to post an explanation "tomorrow".

On 7 April 2004, he told us "tomorrow".

On 26 April 2004, he told us he was too busy.

On 13 January 2005, he told us to read a paper by R Azevedo instead. I rather doubt that Ricardo supports Intelligent Design creationism, or thinks his work contributes to it.

Ever since, silence.

This year he is apparently off in Brazil, proselytizing his lies and fake science to the people there, so I'm assuming he won't get around to explaining his magic metric tomorrow, either. Isn't it amazing how creationists can make stuff up and get a career speaking at exotic places all around the world?

Oh, and get a day named after them! In his honor, we should all make it a point to ask people "How do you know that?" today, and the ones who actually can explain themselves competently will be complimented by being told that they're no Paul Nelson.

We'll celebrate it again next year, I'm sure.

A New Bathroom Wall


We’re experimenting with a new Bathroom Wall that is hosted directly on PT instead on our forums. (Like the old days.)

This BW also serves to torture test the new comment paneling layout that I wrote using jQuery and Ajax. Eventually, comment preview and submission will also use Ajax.

The Bathroom Wall

Yes, I know the green color doesn’t look right, but that’s the jQuery UI default, and I haven’t had time to adapt it to our site.

Telling lies for Ben Stein

It appears that individuals associated with marketing Expelled! have been caught telling lies so as to exclude people from an April 3rd viewing in Tempe, Arizona. First the viewing was on, then it was canceled, then it was back on again. And then it was canceled again. And then it got really interesting.

Read more and leave comments at Stranger Fruit.

On April 4, 2008 at 7:00 pm CDT (GMT - April 5, 2008 at 12:00 midnight), Dr. Kenneth R. Miller, a professor of biology at Brown University, will give a talk entitled God, Darwin, and Design: Lessons from the Dover Monkey Trial. Miller was a lead witness in the Dover, Pennsylvania “intelligent design” case that began in September 2005, and which has been front-page news since it started. The talk is sponsored by the The University of Texas at Austin, which is also web-casting the event, live.

The public is invited to participate in the Live Webcast of the lecture, April 4, 2008 at 7:00 pm CT (click here for times all over the world). The webcasts are very high quality, and viewers can submit questions to the speaker through our website, and hear the speaker answer several online questions in real time. The webcasting software we use requires viewers to download a small plugin, but it is very simple and quick to install.

A link to the details of the lecture and the webcast could be found at: http://www.esi.utexas.edu/outreach/[…]tures/Miller

It is recommended that participants log in to the University of Texas at Austin link several minutes before 7 PM CDT, to have time to download the required plug-in before the Webcast begins.

What is the lecture about?

Tangled Bank #102

The Tangled Bank

The latest edition of the Tangled Bank is now available at Further Thoughts.

Sarah Silverman? How'd she get in there?

Is it always April Fool’s at UCD?


At UcD, a poster named DLH, presents an ‘argument’ which is hard to distinguish from an April Fool’s joke (especially given its publication date).

Having apparently browsed the abstract of a paper, DLH concludes that:

DLH Wrote:

Researchers have discovered two proteins essential for reproductive cells to latch onto each other and then to fuse. Changing at least one of these proteins appears to prevent species from interbreeding. This appears to open up a way to stop malaria. A new species would appear to require at least two changed genes, one for the protein change and the other for the matching protein docking change. What is the probability of these simultaneous changes occurring by random mutation & natural selection - versus - this being a key/lock design with complex specified information? Such simultaneous changes appear to be pushing Behe’s limits of Darwinism.

Let’s explore the obvious answer as well as the findings of the paper in more detail. Although I refuse by principle to link to UcD postings, this one has earned the highly coveted link from PandasThumb.

Congratulations go out to PBS and Nova for winning the Peabody Award for “Judgment Day”, the episode documenting the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case.

Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial NOVA/WGBH Educational Foundation, Vulcan Productions Inc., The Big Table Film Company

The centerpiece of this thoughtful, topical edition of NOVA was the recreation, verbatim, of key testimony and argument from a six-week trial in Pennsylvania that served as a crash course in modern evolutionary theory, the evidence for evolution and the nature of science.

We had most of the plaintiffs’ side of the case on hand to view the broadcast last November. We gathered together at Lauri Lebo and Jeff Pepper’s beer can museum near York, Pennsylvania. We were companionably squeezed in there for the broadcast. (Note Prof. Steve Steve near center…)

(Original and two more pics at the Austringer.)

Given that today really is April 1st, let me start by saying that although Behe is a fool, this post isn’t a joke. Everything you’re about to read is real. This is the third part of my post on the summary judgment decision in the California Creationist Case. Part 1 is here, and part 2 is here.

It would seem that Mike Behe has, once again, managed to shoot an own goal in the courtroom. The last time that he was an expert witness, during the Dover case, the judge quoted extensively from Behe’s testimony, but not in a way that he particularly liked. Ultimately, it seems that he scored more points for his opponents than he did for his friends. He’s also an expert witness in the California Creationism Case, and he seems to have once again managed to put the ball right through the wrong goal.

Behe’s contribution to the pro-science side of the case appears on page 40 of the written order:

Read more at The Questionable Authority, where comments may be left:

As I was driving north into Albuquerque, New Mexico on I-25 on Monday, my jaw dropped when I saw this display on a 3-D Billboard which formerly described the Rolling Rock Extra Pale “Moonvertising” Ad Campaign.

That’s right - somehow, PT’s own P. Z. Myers had managed to “crash” the 3-D billboard’s display, projecting his own image onto the large hemisphere representing the moon for the ad.

I noticed that the ad was owned by ClearChannel Communications, which is also the home of NMSR’s Science Watch Radio. So, I contacted our station liason, Isabel, and she quickly got me in touch with Rolling Rock’s V.P. of Marketing, Ron Stablehorn.

Ron was shocked to hear how Myers had crashed the billboard, and said that Myers had certainly not been invited to put his image on the expensive ad campaign.

One year ago today, we took the lot of you on a fun ride. Ah, good times.

At ‘The Questionable Authority’, Mike Dunford reports on the California Creationist Lawsuit.

Several Christian schools are suing the University of California for unfairly and unconstitutionally refusing to accept a number of courses taught at Christian schools as meeting UC’s admissions criteria.

According to Inside Higher Ed the judge has made his ruling and granted partial summary judgment in favor of the UC system. Mike promises two more postings to discuss particular aspects of the ruling.

One of the posts will focus on Judge Otero’s discovery of various typical Creationist argument techniques (most notably strawmen and quote mining) in the Christian School’s claims. The second will focus on the valuable, but accidental, contribution made by Mike Behe - on behalf of the side of good science.

Part 2 has been added

and Part 3 Summary Judgment in California Creationist Case: Behe Shoots, Scores, We Get Point (Part 3 of 3)

As many of you probably know, controversy has surrounded James Watson’s and Francis Crick’s 1953 seminal paper on DNA structure since its publication. Most of the sometimes heated discussions have focused on the attribution of authorship, centering on the source of the data and on the identity of the person who actually originated the DNA double-helix model.

In an unprecedented move, just days before the 55th anniversary of the paper’s publication, Nature magazine has decided to correct this crucial historical mistake, and finally grant co-authorship to the person who, for years, has been rumored to be the real discoverer of the structure of DNA. Nature has now re-issued a corrected version of the paper, copies of which you can find below the fold.

Logical Negativism


Negativism is the philosophy that no knowledge is secure; hence we know nothing. It was developed in the mid-1800’s by the French sociologist Count Juillet. In the 1930’s, following the publication of Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, the Viennese philosopher Sir Karl (Pop) Korn identified psychoanalysis as a dangerous pseudoscience that relied on ad-hoc hypotheses to prop up its failed theories. Building on his work with psychoanalysis, Korn recognized that any scientific theory whatsoever could be propped up with ad-hoc hypotheses and concluded that all of science is a dangerous pseudoscience. In one fell swoop, Korn solved the demarcation problem, saying, “If we know nothing, then it doesn’t matter whether we call it science or not.”

Korn’s work was rediscovered in the late twentieth century and renamed postmodernism. Postmodernism taught that all knowledge was provisional, and therefore that no knowledge was privileged over other knowledge. In essence, you could believe anything you wanted to. But Korn went much farther and argued that you have no intellectual right to believe anything. The work of Korn and the postmodernists has since been appropriated by intelligent-design creationists, who claim that evolution is not a theory, because there is no such thing as a theory.

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