Freshwater: The bait and switch laid out

| 81 Comments

Freshwater aficionados will recall that I pointed to differences between Freshwater’s request to the Ohio Supreme Court to hear his case (his Memorandum in Support of Jurisdiction–MiS) and the subsequent Merit Brief (MB) in which he actually argued his case. The Court accepted his appeal on the basis of two Propositions of Law (I and II) described in the MiS, but in the actual argument of the Merit Brief those two Propositions changed into two quite different propositions. Now the Mt. Vernon Board of Education has filed a motion to strike the two Propositions–in effect, to strike the whole basis for the acceptance Freshwater’s appeal–because of that bait and switch.

More below the fold.

In my earlier post I wrote

The first thing I note is that the wording of the two Propositions on the basis of which the Ohio Supreme Court accepted the appeal (I and II) differ in the request for acceptance of the appeal (the Memorandum in Support of Jurisdiction-MiS) and the Merit Brief (MB). I don’t know what standard practice is in this sort of case, but I present the two versions side-by-side so commenters more expert in the law than I am can weigh in:

The Board’s motion to strike the Merit Brief’s versions of Freshwater’s Propositions I and II, filed last Friday, says

Nowhere in either proposition of law accepted for review is there an argument that the Board terminated appellant’s employment contract based on the “content or viewpoint” of his religious discussions with students and his use of supplemental religious materials in class. Likewise, neither proposition of law accepted for review contains an argument that Freshwater’s termination was a form of “government censorship.” Rather, the Proposition of Law I accepted for review contains an argument about whether the Board provided Freshwater with a “clear indication as to the kinds of materials or teaching methods which are unacceptable.” The legal analysis required to resolve that issue is unrelated to the legal analysis required to determine whether the Board committed viewpoint or content discrimination and government censorship. Plus, none of the arguments in Appellant’s Merit Brief even address the accepted issue of whether Appellant was provided a clear indication of which materials and teaching methods were inappropriate. Therefore, Appellant’s Merit Brief Proposition of Law I is neither proper in form nor substance and was not accepted by this Court for review. Consequently, it must be struck.

The motion to strike says of Proposition II

Appellant’s Merit Brief Proposition of Law II should be struck for the same reasons. … This proposition of law is nowhere to be found in Appellant’s Memorandum in Support of Jurisdiction. A comparison of this proposition with those accepted for review shows that Appellant’s current arguments are a completely different approach to the appeal than that which was accepted for review. Nowhere in Appellant’s Memorandum in Support of Jurisdiction does Freshwater indicate to this Court he wanted to argue that his religious “academic discussions” and religious “supplemental academic materials” were appropriate.

So the bait and switch is clearly laid out in the motion to strike.

It’s also of interest that the motion to strike picked up my description of the evolution of Freshwater’s claims regarding the teaching of creationism and intelligent design. As I have noted several times (see here for an example), Freshwater claimed under oath in the administrative hearing that he did not teach creationism or intelligent design. But by the time we get to the Merit Brief filed with the Ohio Supreme Court, he claims that his teaching of creationism and intelligent design is appropriate. The motion to strike says

Freshwater has never made the argument that his teaching of intelligent design and creationism was acceptable as scientific theories. Indeed, Freshwater’s argument in this regard has evolved over time. Freshwater adamantly denied teaching intelligent design and creationism during the administrative hearing. (Tr. 376, ln. 14 (“I do not teach intelligent design”); Tr. 377, ln. 9(“I teach evolution. I do not teach ID or creationism”); see Bd. Exs. 19-20). Freshwater then claimed in his Complaint that he taught “about some commonly held beliefs of at least three of the world’s major religions.” (Compl. at 4 59). Then, at the Court of Appeals, Freshwater argued that he simply sought to “encourage his students to differentiate between facts and theories, and to identify and discuss instances where textbook statements were subject to intellectual and scientific debate.” (Appellant’s Appellate Br., at 9). He also claimed that he simply facilitated “classroom discussion concerning popular alternative theories to the Big Bang theory.…” (Id. at v). Yet, in his Merit Brief, Freshwater argues that he did teach creationism and intelligent design since they are permitted concepts (“creation science”). (Appellant’s Merit Br., at 16-18). Thus, Merit Brief Proposition of Law II asks this court to review an issue not raised by Appellant in the lower courts or administrative hearing.

It’s nice to be noticed, even if implicitly. :)

It’s clear that Freshwater’s case has been turned into a vehicle for Hamilton to play out his First Amendment fantasies and the Rutherford Institute to push its ‘viewpoint discrimination’ view of the Constitutional prohibition on teaching creationism in public schools. Freshwater himself is no longer visible in the case; he’s just a pawn now. I have no idea how the Court will rule on the motion to strike. Best case: The Court tosses the appeal, declining to hear it based on the bait and switch that Freshwater’s lawyers pulled.

81 Comments

I would argue that the *best* case would be for the Court to toss the case with scathing comments about frivolous suits, citations from USSC court cases in this area and incompetent or dishonest lawyering…and sanctions to go with for wasting judicial resources.

However, reality and the tendency of appeals courts to do the minimum necessary to “resolve” cases suggests that they may just toss it based on the Board’s filing, simply as a way to get it off their plate with the least effort possible.

–W. H. Heydt

No predictions here. They took it even though (IMO) the arguments for doing so were lousy, so will they now turn it back based on good argument? Who knows. The cynic in me says that the decision to take it shows they have an axe to grind, so no, but I don’t put any confidence in that assessment.

It does happen that courts will accept motions to reconsider/strike when the full facts are brought again to the argument. During one of my divorce hearings, I had filed a motion to dismiss (based on lack of personal jurisdiction over me), and while the court initially denied the motion, upon a (successful) motion to reconsider, the court dismissed the case.

We (my attorneys & I) are not sure why the initial motion to dismiss was denied.

Bravo!

Someday this too shall pass. Sort of like a kiddney stone.

Congrats Richard! It’s nice to have your assessments confirmed. I think you are right about the best case scenario, but as W. H. Heydt notes, I sure wish the court could slap Freshwater’s lawyers for attempting to pull such a despicable act.

Nice timing btw - I was doing a search earlier to see if anything new had popped up in this case just out of curiosity. Thanks for the excellent summary.

So Richard, you’re arguing that similarity– between your PT posts and the legal motion to dismiss– is proof of common descent?

You do know, don’t you, that similarity is NEVER evidence of common descent?

(Sorry… couldn’t resist.)

diogeneslamp0 said:

So Richard, you’re arguing that similarity– between your PT posts and the legal motion to dismiss– is proof of common descent?

You do know, don’t you, that similarity is NEVER evidence of common descent?

(Sorry… couldn’t resist.)

In a “social” situation like this, it depends on how much of a diffusionist you are…

–W. H. Heydt

The case should be immediately dismissed with extreme prejudice. The lawyers who wrote the Merit Brief should be fined for contempt of court and the defendant should be jailed for contempt of court. If the court lets them get away with this, the entire thing will devolve into a fiasco of biblical proportions. But then again, who would have predicted anything else?

DS, good luck on the extreme prejudice. I think the CIA does that, not the courts.

After the Kitzmiller vs Dover trial ended, Judge John Jones forwarded a recommendation of perjury charges against Dover Board members Bill Buckingham and Alan Bonsell for lying under oath. Unfortunately, nothing ever became of the recommendations. IANAL, but I understand it can be tough to get such charges to stick.

Can you move to strike an entire Merit Brief on the grounds that it is unresponsive? Of course, once it was thrown out, the people who wrote it would just deny that it ever existed and try to submit another one that might or might not address the issues described in the Memorandum.

If the court had bothered to find out what went on in the first three years of this process, they would have known that this is the kind of crap that they were in for.

DS said -

The case should be immediately dismissed with extreme prejudice. The lawyers who wrote the Merit Brief should be fined for contempt of court and the defendant should be jailed for contempt of court. If the court lets them get away with this, the entire thing will devolve into a fiasco of biblical proportions. But then again, who would have predicted anything else?

Not only do I agree with this, but I would add that five year old children should never get cancer, that the death penalty, if it must be applied, should only be applied to the actually guilty, that bombs should never be dropped on civilians for no good reason, hell, dolphins should never be entangled in fishing nets.

We’ll see whether the court in question cares what should happen or not.

At least this development does represent progress.

I’m curious. Yahoo had an article yesterday with a picture of Obama with Bill Nye,the science guy. The subject was Nye’s concern over creationism’s threat to science. Why do we hear so little in pop culture about threats to science from the political left? The book ,Higher Superstition” written the 1990s ,subtitle,”The academic left & it’s quarrels with science” is an important book that documents leftist challenges to the sanctity of science. The authors, Paul Gross & Norman Levitt suggest the lack of courage on the part of science’s defenders(mostly in academe) for leftist perversion of science.PC retribution seems to the potential defenders’ concern. Why do we hear so much about creationism,so little about other threats to science ???

calhoun said: Why do we hear so much about creationism,so little about other threats to science ???

Name a few. Do any of them rise to the level of the fundagelical / Rethuglican War on Science?

olorin618 said:

DS, good luck on the extreme prejudice. I think the CIA does that, not the courts.

Domestic response is not in the CIA’s “official” charter - it would have to be the Secret Army of Northern Virginia or one of the other Treadstone/Blackbrier clones.

calhoun’s a drive-by, and almost certainly won’t bother with the answers he gets. There is a reason for responding, though.

The short answer is that the work he refers to, “Higher Superstition” by Gross and Levitt, is an attack essentially on the extension of postmodernist ideas to other fields than literature, where some effect can be seen in the social sciences, if you include anthropology, sociology, educational theory and history as sciences. The authors provide many examples of (typically obscure and unspecific) charges of cultural bias against various social science ideas, and show that their forwarders often substitute for them other culturally biased ideas that are no better. From this, it is true, some of the more eccentric pomos launch vague but often vitriolic attacks on science as a “way of knowing”.

The effect of this on the harder sciences has been negligible, however. Postmodernist criticism of “science” - as in physics, chemistry, biology or paleontology - as a western cultural construct has been confined to a few of the more excitable feminists and cultural contrarians, and is rejected as nonsense by most humanities scholars, including those who are as far left politically as the extreme pomos themselves. Marxists, for example, reject the entire farrago. Saying that this is a leftist assault on science is a gratuitous misrepresentation.

More to the point, this is an academic controversy waged in literary academia by the usual means - arcane learned papers and waspish correspondence in obscure journals. There is nothing here to compare with the headlong assault on biology directed from thousands of popular pulpits every week, or the well-funded fundamentalist ginger groups and lobbyists that work for them. Nothing exists here that remotely resembles the DI, or AiG, or Liberty University, or Pat Robertson’s organisation. There is nothing in it that comes remotely close to the continued, and sometimes successful, attempts by creationists, almost invariably from the far right of politics, to cripple or subvert education in evidential science.

When the man in the street can be heard to say something like, “Yeah, this science stuff, it’s all just a cultural construct, y’know,” rather than “I hear the jury’s still out on evolution”, then I’ll start to worry about it.

calhoun said: Why do we hear so much about creationism,so little about other threats to science ???

We don’t worry about the “left’s” threat to science for the same reason we don’t worry about the Girl Scout’s threat to science.

There aren’t any.

The left in the USA all but doesn’t exist and was never anti-science as a general belief. The fundie xians number 60 million or so and have their own party, the Teapublicans.

It’s been said that the only war Bush won was his War on Science.

And, just to add my usual corrective when this comes up, ‘left wing postmodernist’ is pretty close to a contradiction in terms in any case. Not that postmodernists are right wing either: they merely consider any grand ideological narrative to carry the seeds of its own incoherence – as a result of which Marxists, who are quite committed to one of these narratives as a driving force of history, tend to put them very much in the counterrevolutionary camp.

@Raven:

Not quite. Let’s not lose sight of the (mostly) left-wing anti-vaxxers, pro-homeopath, hippy-dippy alternative medicine crowd. Overall, the “left” isn’t anti-science, but they are still sometimes quite credulous. Not quite the full-scale attack we see from the creobots, but still…

Paul Burnett said:

calhoun said: Why do we hear so much about creationism,so little about other threats to science ???

Name a few. Do any of them rise to the level of the fundagelical / Rethuglican War on Science?

The anti-vaccination movement with Jenny McCarthy as its chief spokesman, and there are other lunacies. But if you are going to stress scientific education, then of course I am in full agreement, Paul.

calhoun said:

I’m curious. Yahoo had an article yesterday with a picture of Obama with Bill Nye,the science guy. The subject was Nye’s concern over creationism’s threat to science. Why do we hear so little in pop culture about threats to science from the political left? The book ,Higher Superstition” written the 1990s ,subtitle,”The academic left & it’s quarrels with science” is an important book that documents leftist challenges to the sanctity of science. The authors, Paul Gross & Norman Levitt suggest the lack of courage on the part of science’s defenders(mostly in academe) for leftist perversion of science.PC retribution seems to the potential defenders’ concern. Why do we hear so much about creationism,so little about other threats to science ???

Paul Gross, who co-authored with Barbara Forrest “Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design”, has faulted the Radical Left’s emphasis on deconstructionist philosophy, especially with regards to the inane claim that scientific truth is no better than other kinds of truth. Other examples can be found in Shawn Otto’s “Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America” by Science Debate co-founder Shawn Otto has faulted the Obama Administration for not being substantially better than its Republican predecessors in using science well in making public policy decisions. However, I will agree with my liberal friends that there is a greater danger emanating from the Religious Right, especially with regards to public understanding of science as reflected in accepting the overwhelming scientific evidence for biological evolution and anthropogenic global warming.

Matt Bright said:

And, just to add my usual corrective when this comes up, ‘left wing postmodernist’ is pretty close to a contradiction in terms in any case. Not that postmodernists are right wing either: they merely consider any grand ideological narrative to carry the seeds of its own incoherence – as a result of which Marxists, who are quite committed to one of these narratives as a driving force of history, tend to put them very much in the counterrevolutionary camp.

You may have to look at Paul Gross’ writings on the subject.

I have. He makes the same mistake. He, and others like him, can get back to me when he has proof that the action of the academics he cites have, or have even attempted to have, the sort of impact on science education that Freshwater’s handlers are currently trying to achieve. Until then, he and Levitt are merely pointing out that in academia, as everywhere in life, silly people have been known to say silly things.

This is as important for those in your camp, John, as it is in mine. The fact that all socially progressive ideas have been lazily labelled as ‘left wing’ and therefore placed on the tiresome US politics magical thinking continuum, established in the 50s, of liberalism-socialism-communism-stalin-HITLERBADWRONG!!!! is, I think, a major source of the current schizophrenic agonies of the US right in that it’s what’s making them feel forced to espouse the silly, mean-spirited positions that are currently drowning out the sensible (if, from my POV arguable) ones and scaring away undecided voters in droves.

I would add sex education to biological evolution and global warming.

“controversy waged in literary academia by the usual means - arcane learned papers and waspish correspondence in obscure journals” - that’s some of my very favorite reading!

I don’t have anything to offer beyond what has been said; I’m commenting here because I visit this blog daily and I get SO much out of it, and I want to thank the blogger and his commenters for the great information and (sometimes) witty repartee. It’s one of the many enjoyable ways I try to keep up with what’s going on in my beloved field of biology.

Not quite. Let’s not lose sight of the (mostly) left-wing anti-vaxxers, pro-homeopath, hippy-dippy alternative medicine crowd.

Not to mention the Germ Theory of Disease Deniers and HIV/AIDS denialists.

But since when have all these been considered the “left”.

It’s more like they are perpendicular to the left-right continuum. A lot of medical denialists are fundie xians.

has faulted the Radical Left’s emphasis on deconstructionist philosophy, especially with regards to the inane claim that scientific truth is no better than other kinds of truth.

These attacks were so savage and relentless that, in many decades as a scientist, I never even heard of them!!! I had no idea what Postmodernism was until I started following the creationist attacks. AFAICT, Postmodernism is pretty well dead. The few PoMo’s I’ve seen don’t even like to call themselves that any more.

Besides being all but invisible, they also lost. Just about everyone knows that apply PoMo thinking to science was a failure. There is really only one real world, after all and it doesn’t care what people think it should look like.

Is there a known date when the court will address the motion to strike?

Tangentially, does anyone know the outcome of the Coppedge / JPL case yet?

Dave Luckett said:

The effect of this on the harder sciences has been negligible, however. Postmodernist criticism of “science” - as in physics, chemistry, biology or paleontology - as a western cultural construct has been confined to a few of the more excitable feminists and cultural contrarians, and is rejected as nonsense by most humanities scholars, including those who are as far left politically as the extreme pomos themselves. Marxists, for example, reject the entire farrago. Saying that this is a leftist assault on science is a gratuitous misrepresentation.

More to the point, this is an academic controversy waged in literary academia by the usual means - arcane learned papers and waspish correspondence in obscure journals. There is nothing here to compare with the headlong assault on biology directed from thousands of popular pulpits every week, or the well-funded fundamentalist ginger groups and lobbyists that work for them. Nothing exists here that remotely resembles the DI, or AiG, or Liberty University, or Pat Robertson’s organisation. There is nothing in it that comes remotely close to the continued, and sometimes successful, attempts by creationists, almost invariably from the far right of politics, to cripple or subvert education in evidential science.

When the man in the street can be heard to say something like, “Yeah, this science stuff, it’s all just a cultural construct, y’know,” rather than “I hear the jury’s still out on evolution”, then I’ll start to worry about it.

I agree with respect to science. But other venues such as middle east studies have been corrupted. The post modern left is not benign. For grins you should pick up a copy of Edward Said’s “Orientalism”.

patrickmay.myopenid.com said:

Is there a known date when the court will address the motion to strike?

Nope, and people–attorneys–I’ve asked don’t know, either.

Tangentially, does anyone know the outcome of the Coppedge / JPL case yet?

The Sensuous Curmudgeon has covered that case closely, and AFAIK it’s still on-going.

Added in edit: Here’s SC’s most recent post on it.

Richard B. Hoppe said:

patrickmay.myopenid.com said:

Is there a known date when the court will address the motion to strike?

Nope, and people–attorneys–I’ve asked don’t know, either.

Tangentially, does anyone know the outcome of the Coppedge / JPL case yet?

The Sensuous Curmudgeon has covered that case closely, and AFAIK it’s still on-going.

Added in edit: Here’s SC’s most recent post on it.

Thanks, I’ll follow SC for the rest of the news.

Carl Drews said:

The most plausible explanation I heard in the discussion afterwards is one that harold has been stating in terms of Fox/Tea/Limbaugh loyalty: People conform to the beliefs of their social group. Right-wing Republicans are kind of a Deniers Club.

Perhaps this will help: http://members.shaw.ca/jeanaltemeye[…]itarians.pdf

Obviously, the attempt to have the government teach their dogma in schools is a big reason why right-wing (but to play that game, it’s not all right-wing either) nonsense is opposed more than left-wing nonsense is.

However, no one should pretend that nonsense more supported by leftish types isn’t actually turned into government policy. NCCAM was pushed through by Tom Harkin, and although I don’t think it should be considered to be a total waste, it’s clearly questionable to be spending money on CAM instead of upon actually promising medical treatments.

Of course it’s not the same threat level, but it’s a false dilemma to pretend that, because one side is worse, the other side’s government-funded tripe isn’t deserving of mention and criticism.

Glen Davidson

As far as vaccinations go, it really doesn’t matter who makes the most noise about it, left, right or whatever. As a practical matter, the important vaccinations are the mandatory ones for school-age children. Forty eight states allow parents to withhold mandatory vaccines from their kids because of the parents’ “sincerely held” religious beliefs. These are the children who are not getting vaccinated. Eighteen of those states also allow exemptions for “philosophical” beliefs, but these are a small fraction of the total. As long as American society places more importance on adults’ mystical beliefs than on children’s welfare the problem will never go away.

A coupla quick points that I hope don’t distract too much from the Freshwater topic at hand:

1. Alan Sokal identifies as leftist. He wrote in his commentary on the Sokal Hoax that one of his motives for fooling Social/Text was that he wanted to reclaim science for the left.

2. There are anti-science people on both sides of the political divide (and along any other sociopolitical axis you might want to draw up). But the left poses no significant threat to scientific progress at the moment. The peak of leftist science denial was the postmodern/poststructural movement. That is now just about dead except as an art movement (which is where it can be a good thing), and even at its political peak it was really only powerful in the academic left, specifically the social sciences. So, yeah, quite a few professors of sociology, linguistics, and social anthropology had loopy ideas. It was worth fighting against, but it was never, even at its worst, remotely on par with the anti-evolution, anti-AGW, anti-environment, pro-“Bell Curve” lunatics that are running one of the two major US political parties.

3. NCCAM has proven to be a wasteful exercise, but it was never anti-science. It was not great science because the idea was that NCCAM would find all the evidence to support alt meds that was just waiting to be uncovered, i.e. they built a cart and expected a horse would appear, but the actual trials funded by NCCAM have generally been well conducted and honestly reported (which is why the results have been so disappointing to the alt med crowd).

I think that it should be pointed out that Harkin was joined in his support of alternate “medicine”by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, probably because many of the manufacturers of such “medicines” are located in Utah.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/JxVN0eQFqtmg[…]X_Zhn8#57cad said:

Obviously, the attempt to have the government teach their dogma in schools is a big reason why right-wing (but to play that game, it’s not all right-wing either) nonsense is opposed more than left-wing nonsense is.

However, no one should pretend that nonsense more supported by leftish types isn’t actually turned into government policy. NCCAM was pushed through by Tom Harkin, and although I don’t think it should be considered to be a total waste, it’s clearly questionable to be spending money on CAM instead of upon actually promising medical treatments.

Of course it’s not the same threat level, but it’s a false dilemma to pretend that, because one side is worse, the other side’s government-funded tripe isn’t deserving of mention and criticism.

Glen Davidson

John said:

SensuousCurmudgeon said:

Neither party is literally pro-science nor anti-science. Politicians will either support or oppose science when it suits their political and economic agendae. The space program, for example, wasn’t begun and nurtured because either party loved science. Rather, it was a matter of national defense, and those weird pocket-protector guys seemed to be able to deliver the goods, so both parties supported them – for a while.

There’s no need to recount the anti-science positions taken by the family-values type of Republican, although it should be remembered that there are creationists in the other party too. But even assuming that all Republicans are creationists (they’re not), remember that those same people probably do support additional funding for military research. So their position isn’t “no science, not ever!” It’s more like “science when it suits my purposes.”

Also, we shouldn’t overlook the fact that the other party, in its zeal for environmental purity, opposes not only energy from petroleum (which is understandable), but they also oppose any additional efforts toward increasing the production of nuclear energy. Where’s the science there? And where’s the pro-science attitude in reducing the funding and missions of NASA? Many trial lawyers and their legislative supporters are on the political left, and their personal injury cases often feature weird “science” theories about how injuries get caused.

Don’t be misled by creationism alone. The parties are often flip-flopped on science issues. Why? Because it’s not about science. It’s always politics, and if science people unthinkingly support one party or the other, then we’re just another voting block to be taken for granted.

Am in full agreement with your observations here, SC. Moreover, I heard NASA climatologist James Hansen advocate the construction of new nuclear fission electrical generation plants as the best means of greating reducing our carbon footprint, noting that the safest, most advanced, reactors are now being built in France and Germany. I would suspect that even after last year’s disaster in Fukushima, Japan, that he would still favor that view.

Germany? Mr. Kwok must be joking. Chancellor Merkel has proposed to phase out all the nuclear power plants in Germany. In my opinion, she should be ashamed of herself, being a PhD physicist who taught the subject in a German university for many years before going into politics. She should know better.

SLC said:

As usual, right wing sockpuppet Mr. Kwok distorts the reality. As Dr. David Gorski has pointed out numerous times on his blog, ORAC, anti-vax crap is not confined to the left. Ever hear of Dan Burton, Congresscritter from Indiana, who is doing the country a great service by retiring this year? Hardly a left winger. Does Mr. Kwok have some evidence that, for instance, Andrew Wakefield is a left winger?

John said:

It’s not only yours truly who views the anti-vaccination movement as a major example of Leftist bias against science. Shawn Otto - who is a liberal Democrat - makes a compelling case in his “Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America”. That’s not the only example he cites BTW.

If I am a “right wing sockpuppet” then I’m in distinguished company: Michael Shermer, Paul R. Gross, Timothy Sandefur (who once offered some of the best legal analyses as a PT contributor in years past but no longer, I wonder why). I would rather be one than be associated with a New Atheist advocate who allows people to post death threats on his website and treat them as “jokes”.

Go back and start lusting after girls. I hear Emma Watson might be available, moron. Ditto Lucy Liu.

Chris Lawson said:

A coupla quick points that I hope don’t distract too much from the Freshwater topic at hand:

1. Alan Sokal identifies as leftist. He wrote in his commentary on the Sokal Hoax that one of his motives for fooling Social/Text was that he wanted to reclaim science for the left.

2. There are anti-science people on both sides of the political divide (and along any other sociopolitical axis you might want to draw up). But the left poses no significant threat to scientific progress at the moment. The peak of leftist science denial was the postmodern/poststructural movement. That is now just about dead except as an art movement (which is where it can be a good thing), and even at its political peak it was really only powerful in the academic left, specifically the social sciences. So, yeah, quite a few professors of sociology, linguistics, and social anthropology had loopy ideas. It was worth fighting against, but it was never, even at its worst, remotely on par with the anti-evolution, anti-AGW, anti-environment, pro-“Bell Curve” lunatics that are running one of the two major US political parties.

3. NCCAM has proven to be a wasteful exercise, but it was never anti-science. It was not great science because the idea was that NCCAM would find all the evidence to support alt meds that was just waiting to be uncovered, i.e. they built a cart and expected a horse would appear, but the actual trials funded by NCCAM have generally been well conducted and honestly reported (which is why the results have been so disappointing to the alt med crowd).

I should note that I have not identified Dr. Alan Sokal as a right-wing critic of Leftist anti-science thought. If you have read my comments carefully, I have been quite explicit in identifying himself as someone who still views himself as part of the Left. Indeed he does want “to reclaim” science for the Left.

I also agree that there is unfortunately a greater danger from the Right with regards to anti-science bias. However, to my surprise, Science Debate Shawn Otto believes that there is still good reason to be wary of the Left, and he regards himself as a Liberal Democrat (though he does note that one of his ancestors founded the Republican Party in Minnesota back in the 1850s).

SLC said:

John said:

SensuousCurmudgeon said:

Neither party is literally pro-science nor anti-science. Politicians will either support or oppose science when it suits their political and economic agendae. The space program, for example, wasn’t begun and nurtured because either party loved science. Rather, it was a matter of national defense, and those weird pocket-protector guys seemed to be able to deliver the goods, so both parties supported them – for a while.

There’s no need to recount the anti-science positions taken by the family-values type of Republican, although it should be remembered that there are creationists in the other party too. But even assuming that all Republicans are creationists (they’re not), remember that those same people probably do support additional funding for military research. So their position isn’t “no science, not ever!” It’s more like “science when it suits my purposes.”

Also, we shouldn’t overlook the fact that the other party, in its zeal for environmental purity, opposes not only energy from petroleum (which is understandable), but they also oppose any additional efforts toward increasing the production of nuclear energy. Where’s the science there? And where’s the pro-science attitude in reducing the funding and missions of NASA? Many trial lawyers and their legislative supporters are on the political left, and their personal injury cases often feature weird “science” theories about how injuries get caused.

Don’t be misled by creationism alone. The parties are often flip-flopped on science issues. Why? Because it’s not about science. It’s always politics, and if science people unthinkingly support one party or the other, then we’re just another voting block to be taken for granted.

Am in full agreement with your observations here, SC. Moreover, I heard NASA climatologist James Hansen advocate the construction of new nuclear fission electrical generation plants as the best means of greating reducing our carbon footprint, noting that the safest, most advanced, reactors are now being built in France and Germany. I would suspect that even after last year’s disaster in Fukushima, Japan, that he would still favor that view.

Germany? Mr. Kwok must be joking. Chancellor Merkel has proposed to phase out all the nuclear power plants in Germany. In my opinion, she should be ashamed of herself, being a PhD physicist who taught the subject in a German university for many years before going into politics. She should know better.

Three years ago I attended a World Science Festival panel featuring NASA climatologist James Hansen and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Jackson, a highly regarded nuclear physicist who was once the chairman of the U. S. nuclear regulatory commission. It was she who reminded her fellow panelists that the Europeans - primarily the French and Germans - are building the safest nuclear power plants in the world and that we in the United States are technologically years behind them.

You demand that creationists respect well established scientific data with regards to biological evolution, as do yours truly and many others here in the United States. May I suggest that you heed what experts like Drs. Hansen and Jackson have been saying? Like it or not, the only credible alternative to relying exclusively on coal and oil is nuclear power.

Of course it’s not the same threat level, but it’s a false dilemma to pretend that, because one side is worse, the other side’s government-funded tripe isn’t deserving of mention and criticism

1) No-one is doing this.

2) Your own example is of a bipartisan bill; so far every single proposed example of “leftist” science denial in this thread has been an example of some mild thing that cuts across the political spectrum.

3) Your own example illustrates the far worse quality of the Republican party at this time, because NCCAM advocates testing claims, which is at worst money wasted testing unlikely hypotheses. Meanwhile, some Republicans advocate weakening FDA labeling requirements for supplements and the like, which is an attack on public health and public understanding of science.

I will condemn any Democratic party or left wing science denial as loudly as anyone. However, the lack of good examples here, combined with the constant efforts at false equivalence and assignment of mild, ubiquitous traits to “the left”, in a desperate effort to come up with an example of contemporary “leftist science denial”, has left me convinced that no-one can provide a decent, fair example for me to condemn.

harold said:

Of course it’s not the same threat level, but it’s a false dilemma to pretend that, because one side is worse, the other side’s government-funded tripe isn’t deserving of mention and criticism

1) No-one is doing this.

2) Your own example is of a bipartisan bill; so far every single proposed example of “leftist” science denial in this thread has been an example of some mild thing that cuts across the political spectrum.

3) Your own example illustrates the far worse quality of the Republican party at this time, because NCCAM advocates testing claims, which is at worst money wasted testing unlikely hypotheses. Meanwhile, some Republicans advocate weakening FDA labeling requirements for supplements and the like, which is an attack on public health and public understanding of science.

I will condemn any Democratic party or left wing science denial as loudly as anyone. However, the lack of good examples here, combined with the constant efforts at false equivalence and assignment of mild, ubiquitous traits to “the left”, in a desperate effort to come up with an example of contemporary “leftist science denial”, has left me convinced that no-one can provide a decent, fair example for me to condemn.

I suggest you start reading Shawn Otto’s “Fool Me Twice” if you haven’t already, or correspond with him either via the Science Debate website or contact him at Facebook.

Michael Shermer is a Libertarian. And it is Mr. Kwok who lusts after 15 year old girls on the New York subway.

John said:

SLC said:

As usual, right wing sockpuppet Mr. Kwok distorts the reality. As Dr. David Gorski has pointed out numerous times on his blog, ORAC, anti-vax crap is not confined to the left. Ever hear of Dan Burton, Congresscritter from Indiana, who is doing the country a great service by retiring this year? Hardly a left winger. Does Mr. Kwok have some evidence that, for instance, Andrew Wakefield is a left winger?

John said:

It’s not only yours truly who views the anti-vaccination movement as a major example of Leftist bias against science. Shawn Otto - who is a liberal Democrat - makes a compelling case in his “Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America”. That’s not the only example he cites BTW.

If I am a “right wing sockpuppet” then I’m in distinguished company: Michael Shermer, Paul R. Gross, Timothy Sandefur (who once offered some of the best legal analyses as a PT contributor in years past but no longer, I wonder why). I would rather be one than be associated with a New Atheist advocate who allows people to post death threats on his website and treat them as “jokes”.

Go back and start lusting after girls. I hear Emma Watson might be available, moron. Ditto Lucy Liu.

John said:

SLC said:

As usual, right wing sockpuppet Mr. Kwok distorts the reality. As Dr. David Gorski has pointed out numerous times on his blog, ORAC, anti-vax crap is not confined to the left. Ever hear of Dan Burton, Congresscritter from Indiana, who is doing the country a great service by retiring this year? Hardly a left winger. Does Mr. Kwok have some evidence that, for instance, Andrew Wakefield is a left winger?

John said:

It’s not only yours truly who views the anti-vaccination movement as a major example of Leftist bias against science. Shawn Otto - who is a liberal Democrat - makes a compelling case in his “Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America”. That’s not the only example he cites BTW.

If I am a “right wing sockpuppet” then I’m in distinguished company: Michael Shermer, Paul R. Gross, Timothy Sandefur (who once offered some of the best legal analyses as a PT contributor in years past but no longer, I wonder why). I would rather be one than be associated with a New Atheist advocate who allows people to post death threats on his website and treat them as “jokes”.

Go back and start lusting after girls. I hear Emma Watson might be available, moron. Ditto Lucy Liu.

Obviously, Mr. Kwok doesn’t bother to read the posts that he likes to bad mouth. In my comment, I strongly criticized Chancellor Merkel for her position on phasing out nuclear power plants in Germany. Contrary to Mr. Kwok’s assertion, I strongly favor nuclear power and always have. By the way, Mr. Kwok is seriously in error in stating that nuclear is the only alternative to coal and oil for electricity production (it should be pointed out that Mr Kwok is apparently unaware that oil currently supplies less the 3% of electricity production in the US). Natural gas, which is now in world wide surplus and which the US has the largest deposits in the world, is a viable alternative. Natural gas produces 1/2 the carbon per KWH of electricity produced as compared to coal.

John said:

SLC said:

John said:

SensuousCurmudgeon said:

Neither party is literally pro-science nor anti-science. Politicians will either support or oppose science when it suits their political and economic agendae. The space program, for example, wasn’t begun and nurtured because either party loved science. Rather, it was a matter of national defense, and those weird pocket-protector guys seemed to be able to deliver the goods, so both parties supported them – for a while.

There’s no need to recount the anti-science positions taken by the family-values type of Republican, although it should be remembered that there are creationists in the other party too. But even assuming that all Republicans are creationists (they’re not), remember that those same people probably do support additional funding for military research. So their position isn’t “no science, not ever!” It’s more like “science when it suits my purposes.”

Also, we shouldn’t overlook the fact that the other party, in its zeal for environmental purity, opposes not only energy from petroleum (which is understandable), but they also oppose any additional efforts toward increasing the production of nuclear energy. Where’s the science there? And where’s the pro-science attitude in reducing the funding and missions of NASA? Many trial lawyers and their legislative supporters are on the political left, and their personal injury cases often feature weird “science” theories about how injuries get caused.

Don’t be misled by creationism alone. The parties are often flip-flopped on science issues. Why? Because it’s not about science. It’s always politics, and if science people unthinkingly support one party or the other, then we’re just another voting block to be taken for granted.

Am in full agreement with your observations here, SC. Moreover, I heard NASA climatologist James Hansen advocate the construction of new nuclear fission electrical generation plants as the best means of greating reducing our carbon footprint, noting that the safest, most advanced, reactors are now being built in France and Germany. I would suspect that even after last year’s disaster in Fukushima, Japan, that he would still favor that view.

Germany? Mr. Kwok must be joking. Chancellor Merkel has proposed to phase out all the nuclear power plants in Germany. In my opinion, she should be ashamed of herself, being a PhD physicist who taught the subject in a German university for many years before going into politics. She should know better.

Three years ago I attended a World Science Festival panel featuring NASA climatologist James Hansen and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Jackson, a highly regarded nuclear physicist who was once the chairman of the U. S. nuclear regulatory commission. It was she who reminded her fellow panelists that the Europeans - primarily the French and Germans - are building the safest nuclear power plants in the world and that we in the United States are technologically years behind them.

You demand that creationists respect well established scientific data with regards to biological evolution, as do yours truly and many others here in the United States. May I suggest that you heed what experts like Drs. Hansen and Jackson have been saying? Like it or not, the only credible alternative to relying exclusively on coal and oil is nuclear power.

SensuousCurmudgeon said:

they also oppose any additional efforts toward increasing the production of nuclear energy. Where’s the science there?

You are kidding, right? After Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and the Tsunami, what rational person wouldn’t be skeptical about the safety of nuclear power plants? Comparing people who have legitimate concerns about the dangers of nuclear power and radioactive waste to creationists is absurd. This is not like anti-vaccers; there are legitimate, observable, empirical concerns.

SLC said:

Michael Shermer is a Libertarian. And it is Mr. Kwok who lusts after 15 year old girls on the New York subway.

I don’t lust after 15 year old girls, moron. But I know that you still lust after Cameron Diaz. As for Shermer, he is a Libertarian, but he does harbor views that are in some alignment with those who are Conservatives. Let me just say that I have heard this from a mutual friend of ours whom I won’t disclose.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/kYQj4.Y6hsNH[…]4Dobc-#0cdad said:

SensuousCurmudgeon said:

they also oppose any additional efforts toward increasing the production of nuclear energy. Where’s the science there?

You are kidding, right? After Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and the Tsunami, what rational person wouldn’t be skeptical about the safety of nuclear power plants? Comparing people who have legitimate concerns about the dangers of nuclear power and radioactive waste to creationists is absurd. This is not like anti-vaccers; there are legitimate, observable, empirical concerns.

You missed my comment regarding nuclear physicist Shirley Jackson, who believes that nuclear power plants can still be built safely here in the United States. She’s just one of many “rational” people who still endorses this view.

John said:

https://me.yahoo.com/a/kYQj4.Y6hsNH[…]4Dobc-#0cdad said:

SensuousCurmudgeon said:

they also oppose any additional efforts toward increasing the production of nuclear energy. Where’s the science there?

You are kidding, right? After Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and the Tsunami, what rational person wouldn’t be skeptical about the safety of nuclear power plants? Comparing people who have legitimate concerns about the dangers of nuclear power and radioactive waste to creationists is absurd. This is not like anti-vaccers; there are legitimate, observable, empirical concerns.

You missed my comment regarding nuclear physicist Shirley Jackson, who believes that nuclear power plants can still be built safely here in the United States. She’s just one of many “rational” people who still endorses this view.

All I’m saying is that it is ridiculous to lump people skeptical of nuclear power in with anti-vaccers and creationists. I don’t doubt that a case can be made for nuclear power; I merely dispute that opponents are a bunch of luddites.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/kYQj4.Y6hsNH[…]4Dobc-#0cdad said: After Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and the Tsunami, what rational person wouldn’t be skeptical about the safety of nuclear power plants?

Remember “More people died at Chappaquiddick Island than at Three Mile Island”?

harold said:

Of course it’s not the same threat level, but it’s a false dilemma to pretend that, because one side is worse, the other side’s government-funded tripe isn’t deserving of mention and criticism

1) No-one is doing this.

Then why are you doing it? Your absurd attempts to make CAM junk out to be across the board nonsense reveals your bias.

I do think that CAM might have as many adherents on the “right” as on the left, but it’s not their thing overall, especially Reiki and other Eastern mystical nonsense. While NCCAM pays money to look into that (First Amendment anyone?), I’m sure your average fundamentalist isn’t applauding. Proponents of CAM are rarely right-wing types, and they are more the lobbying type, outside of the monied interests.

2) Your own example is of a bipartisan bill;

What does that have to do with CAM tendencies? Just because Hatch helped with the original $2 million (not technically NCCAM then, but it was its start) doesn’t change the fact that Harkin was the force behind the bill. Furthermore, it wasn’t just Tom who enthused over it, Democrat Bedell who was another of the real forces behind this junk:

The OAM had been formed not because of any medical or scientific need, but because Iowa senator Tom Harkin and former Iowa representative Berkeley Bedell believed in implausible health claims as a result of their own experiences. Bedell thought that “Naessens Serum” had cured his prostate cancer and that cow colostrum had cured his Lyme disease (Jarvis 1996). He recommended “alternative medicine” to his friend Harkin, who subsequently came to believe that bee pollen had cured his hay fever (Marshall 1994).

csicop.org/si/show/ongoing_problem_with_the_national_center/ (put www. in front to paste, here and in most subsequent addresses)

Bedell had a great idea for conducting the research:

NIH, Bedell said, should hire staffers to locate anyone who claims to have a successful therapy, search the files, and “just simply find out whether what he claims is correct.”

[Subsequent to the hearing] Bedell brushed aside questions about how his field studies could be designed to avoid bias. This is a technical detail, Bedell said, and “I’m not a scientist.” But he insisted at the hearing—and still insists—that field studies can be done quickly and easily, without fancy statistics or double-blinded controls (Marshall 1994).

Ibid.

so far every single proposed example of “leftist” science denial in this thread has been an example of some mild thing that cuts across the political spectrum.

Making stuff up as you go along doesn’t do anything for your “case.” Apart from the sleazy money side (Hatch), the spokespersons for CAM are largely liberal to leftish, people like Andrew Weil. People almost as biased as yourself, like PZ, own up to it:

Since I was just griping about the false claim that the political left is as anti-scientific as the right, I will mention one exception where I think the argument has some merit: alternative medicine. I am not a fan of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), which had a 2005 budget of 123 million dollars—123 million dollars that was sucked away from legitimate science and placed in the hands of quacks. The latest issue of Science has two articles, pro and con, on NCCAM, and you might be able to guess where my sympathies lay.

From Pharyngula, “Damn the NCCAM”

3) Your own example illustrates the far worse quality of the Republican party at this time,

Oooh, just return to the false dilemma after spouting a bunch of half-truths (at best).

because NCCAM advocates testing claims, which is at worst money wasted testing unlikely hypotheses.

Gee, isn’t that big of them. Do you think that might be why I said it wasn’t entirely wasted? Of course I’m simply not interested in your false dilemmas, while you are, so you just go back to “who’s worse” on science. I already said the right was, and you attack your strawman

And how good are these experimental procedures, and the conclusions, anyway? Chris Mooney:

Theoretically, NIH, as a scientific arm of the federal government, should act as a referee. But practically since it established the Office of Alternative Medicine in 1992, it has come under fire from the medical establishment for funding what critics charge are shoddy experimental procedures. One problem is that from its outset, the office has been run by CAM boosters like Wayne Jonas, author of the 1996 book Healing with Homeopathy: The Natural Way to Promote Recovery and Restore Health. Even after 1998, when NIH made a great show of cleaning up its CAM program, things haven’t much improved. Despite the mandate from Sens. Harkin and Hatch that alternative treatments undergo rigorous scientific testing, many researchers still consider NIH’s program a joke. ““It’s been about eight years now,” complains Stephen Barrett, an M.D. who runs the website Quackwatch.com. “They’ve never said that anything didn’t work.”

For example, the NIH doled out $1 million for a study of “magnet therapy,” which traces its roots to an 18th-century belief that blood circulation can be improved by mounting magnets at various points on the human body. Though the medical community emphatically dismisses the notion, the North American Academy of Magnetic Therapy continues to claim that it’s healed scores of patients.

NIH has also funded expensive studies of “distance healing,” homeopathy, and shark cartilage, the last of which may be the most egregious. NCCAM has awarded more than $1 million to Charles Loprinizi of the Community Clinical Oncology Program in Rochester, Minn., to study shark cartilage’s ability to heal advanced colorectal or breast cancer—an idea even some of CAM’s biggest boosters, such as Dr. Marc Micozzi of the College of Physicians in Philadelphia, admit is absolute nonsense (sharks themselves get cancer, including cancer of the cartilage).

Such studies actually exacerbate the problem. A lot of NIH money has gone to study techniques that on their face are patently ridiculous—but rather than disprove them, “inconclusive” research actually props them up by making it seem as though some legitimate scientific issue were at stake.

washingtonmonthly.com/features/2001/0204.mooney.html

Meanwhile, some Republicans advocate weakening FDA labeling requirements for supplements and the like, which is an attack on public health and public understanding of science.

Imagine how relevant that would be if I were promoting the Republican Party.

Imagine how irrelevant that is since I’m not.

I will condemn any Democratic party or left wing science denial as loudly as anyone.

You sure didn’t here.

However, the lack of good examples here,

Gee, you denied what is the case, then declared that you win on the evidence that you twisted into the shape you wanted it.

combined with the constant efforts at false equivalence and assignment of mild, ubiquitous traits to “the left”, in a desperate effort to come up with an example of contemporary “leftist science denial”, has left me convinced that no-one can provide a decent, fair example for me to condemn.

Since you do nothing but handwave, attack strawmen, and ignore what is actually the case with NCCAM, I am convinced that you’re being your usual highly biased self.

Glen Davidson

Proponents of CAM are rarely right-wing types, and they are more the lobbying type, outside of the monied interests.

Should have been:

Leading proponents of CAM are rarely right-wing types, and they are more the lobbying type, outside of the monied interests.

Glen Davidson

OK, this thread is degenerating. Thanks for playing, folks.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on September 25, 2012 7:48 AM.

Selasphorus platycercus was the previous entry in this blog.

Wallace Online is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.381

Site Meter