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Wednesday, December 21, 2005 

Kitzmiller decision--required reading

Okay, after going through the whole Kitzmiller decision last night, and damn, it's good. Really, incredibly good. This should be required reading. Jones' disgust at the whole thing comes through loud and clear. On page 29:
Although proponents of the IDM (Intelligent Design movement) occasionally suggest that the designer could be a space alien or a time-traveling cell biologist, no serious alternative to God as the designer has been proposed by members of the IDM, including Defendant's expert witnesses.
He discussed this at length, clearly connecting the dots between the Discovery Institute, the Wedge Document, Pandas and People, right up to the Thomas More law center and the Dover school board. On page 31,
A "hypothetical reasonable observer," adult or child, who is "aware of the history and context of the community and forum" is also presumed to know that ID is a form of creationism...The evidence at trial demonstrates that ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism. What is likely the strongest evidence supporting the finding of ID's creationist nature is the history and historical pedigree of the book to which students in Dover's ninth grade biology class are referred, Pandas. Pandas is published by an organization called FTE, as noted, whose articles of incorporation and filings with the Internal Revenue Service describe it as a religious, Christian organization. Pandas was written by Dean Kenyon and Percival Davis, both acknowledged creationists, and Nancy Pearcey, a Young Earth Creationist, contributed to the work.

As Plaintiffs meticulously and effectively presented to the Court, Pandas went through many drafts, several of which were completed prior to and some after the Supreme Court's decision in Edwards, which held that the Constitution forbids teaching creationism as science. By comparing the pre and post Edwards drafts of Pandas, three astonishing points emerge: (1) the definition for creation science in early drafts is identical to the definition of ID; (2) cognates of the word creation, which appeared approximately 150 times were deliberately and systematically replaced with the phrase ID; (3) the changes occurred shortly after the Supreme Court held that creation science is religious and cannot be taught in public school science classes in Edwards.
The Pandas book was definitely a slam-dunk, though many other factors clearly contributed as well: the history of the decision by the Dover board to have their teachers announce the disclaimer, and the adoption of the Pandas book as an "alternative" text (and the lies that were told about it during the trial); the Wedge document; Behe's arrogant testimony (dissected further at Pharyngula); and the overwhelming view from the community that ID was indeed religious, as measured by opinion letters in the local newspapers. The latter is something that could be very important in any future trials of this nature: even if the proponents are careful to say that the designer in ID can be "a time-travelling cell bioloist" or whatever, the community is going to be more vocal in their belief that ID is a religious idea, and the designer is God.

This, truly, has given those of us who've been fighting ID a "merry Kitzmas."

Edited to add: Ed and Burt's Skeptic article about the trial has been released here with some more "behind the scenes" material. Check it out. Additionally, for a one-stop-shop of links to discussion of the trial and the decision, check out The Questionable Authority.

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About me

  • I'm Tara C. Smith
  • From Iowa, United States
  • I'm a mom and a scientist, your basic stressed-out, wanna-have-it-all-and-do-it-all Gen Xer. Recently transplanted from Ohio to Iowa, I've spent most of my life in the midwest (with 4 years of college spent out east in "soda" territory). My main interest, and the subject of my research, is infectious disease: how does the microbe cause illness? What makes one strain nasty, and another "avirulent?" Are the latter really not causing any disease, or could some of those be possible for the development of chronic disease years down the road? Additionally, I've spent a lot of time discussing the value of teaching evolution, and educating others about "intelligent design" and other forms of creationism. My interest in history of science and medicine is also useful as a way to tie all of the above interests together. [Disclaimer: the views here are solely my own, and do not represent my employer, my spouse, that guy who's always sitting by the fountain when I come into work, or anyone else with whom I may be remotely affiliated.]
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