The Questionable Authority

Yesterday, I wrote a post about Casey Luskin’s misuse of the ResearchBlogging.org “Blogging about Peer-Reviewed Research” icon. Today, Casey removed the icon from his post, and provided an explanation for his actions. I’m glad that he decided to cease his misuse of the icon, but his explanation leaves a heck of a lot to be desired. He admits no wrongdoing, makes no apology, and presents a series of excuses for his actions that – even if accepted at face value – are weak at best.

The first excuse he presents is essentially a claim that he didn’t know what he was doing:

A co-worker had recommended that I include a graphic that said this was discussing peer-reviewed research. At the time, I was unaware of ResearchBlogging.org and the fact that they requested registration in order to use their graphic. Important note: It should be clear that when I first posted my post, I had not yet seen ResearchBlogging.org and was unaware of how it worked. (Italics in original.)

I’m finding it very hard to believe that Casey was unaware of ResearchBlogging.org when he used the icon. Here’s why:

i-429b834c9ad23bdd724c23c9e7cd7393-casey-1-1-tm.jpg

That’s a screen capture taken from Casey’s article yesterday. Take a look at the icon. It’s got “ResearchBlogging.org” written across the bottom. The text for the link might not be as large or the same color as the main text, but it’s pretty clear. Even if I give Casey some leeway for being both oblivious and lazy, it’s still a bit hard to see how he managed to use that icon while simultaneously remaining “unaware of” researchblogging.org. But let’s assume that he was. It’s still no excuse. He knew that he hadn’t created the icon himself, and finding out where the icon came from should not have been difficult – all he needed to do was look at the icon.

Casey continues:

On Feb. 5, I received a response from ResearchBlogging.org that, among other things, directed me to a discussion page which stated that the graphic I originally used was copyrighted by them. At the time that I posted this post, I was not aware that the graphic I had used was owned by ResearchBlogging.org.

As I pointed out before, “ResearchBlogging.org” is written right on the icon, so it’s really hard to buy Casey’s version of the Sgt. Shultz defense here, either. It’s also worth noting that Casey really should know – particularly since he’s a lawyer himself – that (a) he didn’t create the icon himself, and that therefore (b) someone else probably owned the icon. At best, Casey decided not to bother finding out where the icon came from and who had actually taken the time and effort to put it together. That’s not an acceptable excuse for buying a $200 Rolex from the guy on the street, and it’s not much better here.

If Casey really wants to come up with an excuse, he’s going to need to do better than willful ignorance.

Comments

  1. #1 Bobby
    February 5, 2008

    Institutionalized Sleaze Surfaces at the Discovery Institute

    News at 11!

  2. #2 Blake Stacey
    February 5, 2008

    He admits no wrongdoing, makes no apology, and presents a series of excuses for his actions that – even if accepted at face value – are weak at best.

    Par for the creationist course.

  3. #3 Bobby
    February 5, 2008
    He admits no wrongdoing, makes no apology, and presents a series of excuses for his actions that – even if accepted at face value – are weak at best.

    Par for the creationist course.

    He was afraid a rigorous argument would make an undesirable contrast with their arguments for design.

  4. #4 Raging Bee
    February 5, 2008

    The first excuse he presents is essentially a claim that he didn’t know what he was doing…

    So even when he’s telling an obvious truth, he’s still being dishonest? That’s pretty sad, even for a creationist.

  5. #5 Eamon Knight
    February 5, 2008

    I thought that asking questions like “Is this symbol under copyright or trademark?” was the sort of thing that competent lawyers were supposed to do routinely. Isn’t that one of the things they’re paid for?

  6. #6 vhut
    February 5, 2008

    Would you hire Casey to represent you in any legal matter given his degree of astuteness?

  7. #7 Mike O'Risal
    February 5, 2008

    Y’know what’s not clear in his list of excuses?

    From where he actually got the icon. He says that a co-worker suggested he include it; he doesn’t specify that the co-worker actually sent him the icon. So where’d it come from?

    I find this a rather telling omission, considering how long-winded he is about everything else.

  8. #8 Marc Connor
    February 5, 2008

    So much for being able to detect design

  9. #9 Richard Simons
    February 5, 2008

    Isn’t this the guy who just a couple of weeks ago threatened to sue another blogger for having his (Luskin’s) photo on display, in a perfectly innocuous situation?

  10. #10 Doc Bill
    February 5, 2008

    Excuse me, Mr. Luskin, Attorney at Law.

    How is copyright established?

    I think if you do even a Google search you’ll find that copyright is established a the moment of creation by the creator. Surely, an Intelligent Design proponent like yourself understands that! No forms to fill out.

    Therefore, if you use a graphic “given” to you by a “cow-orker” you can safely assume that copyright belongs to someone else, whether or not that person is interested in protecting that copyright.

    Pick your poison, Luskin, incompetent or liar.

  11. #11 ERV
    February 5, 2008

    Um… Im sorry, I must have missed the memo, but since when is ‘Evolution News and Views’ a ‘blog’.

    ‘Uncommon Descent’ is a blog.

    ‘EN&V’ is not a blog.

    So why should they be granted access to the BPR3, ‘BLOGGERS for peer review’ network, ignoring the copyright issues?

  12. #12 simea mirans
    February 5, 2008

    I dunno – is it really fair to expect him to be able to tell that the logo was designed, and didn’t just occur naturally? I mean, what tools could he have used to make that determination?

  13. #13 John Pieret
    February 5, 2008

    Ya gotta give Casey credit … not many people would think of the excuse “I’m too stupid to know better.”

  14. #14 TImcol
    February 5, 2008

    I guess what is so incedulous about all this is that Luskin, who is a qualified lawyer and thus used to dealing with complex legal “rules”, could not apparently figure out how to properly register on researchblogging.com or understand the guidelines for use. I went there myself and within only a matter of minutes had easily found all the information needed. Not that difficult! And I don’t possess any kind of degree! I guess we should be thankful he is not a trial lawyer representing actual people (he isn’t is he?. All those laws are so confusing!!!!

  15. #15 Pineyman
    February 5, 2008

    So….Dembski laid the groundwork in the Harvard “Life of a Cell” fiasco & the Casemeister has his precendent on excuse-making, huh?

    That what lawyers do right? Quote precedent?

  16. #16 fnxtr
    February 5, 2008

    I think you should post a picture of Luskin. a) to thumb your nose at him, and b) because he looks like a dork.

  17. #17 waldteufel
    February 5, 2008

    Read Casey’s last post on the BPR3 thread . . . . . It’s a hoot!

    Be sure, the little weasel will be whining within a few days about how he got beat up by the mean, nasty “Darwinists” who
    wouldn’t let him play with them.

    What a jerk.

  18. #18 Les Lane
    February 5, 2008

    It’s not hard to imagine that Casey is unaware of anything related to legitimate science.

  19. #19 Pierce R. Butler
    February 5, 2008

    Perhaps ResearchBlogging.org should add a (C), TM, or SM, as appropriate, to their icon.

  20. #20 alloy
    February 6, 2008

    I think Casey Luskin’s use of the logo constitutes “fair usage”

    Satire is fair usage isn’t it?

    I suppose it would be, were Casey funny, as it stands he’s just sad…….

    And yes, the icon should be limited to bloggers who don’t moderate comments (porn, spam and the like not with standing)

  21. #21 Ed Darrell
    February 6, 2008

    Still, it’s notable that Luskin did the right thing in removing the logo from his post. If Luskin disappears and they find his body in a dumpster outside DI’s HQ, we’ll know the risks he took in doing the right thing once. But few of us would be surprised.

    Isn’t that sad?

  22. #22 QrazyQat
    February 6, 2008

    “It’s notable that my client did the right thing in giving the bag of stolen money to the cops when they caught him” isn’t gonna buy leniency from the judge. Or would Judge Darrell grant it?

  23. #23 Dave S.
    February 6, 2008

    Still, it’s notable that Luskin did the right thing in removing the logo from his post.

    It’s not like he had a lot of choice. The only other options were to keep the icon and defend his actions, or delete the icon without comment.

    Pick your poison.

    You’d think a lawyer would know ignorance is no excuse. Maybe he was operating on I’ve-got-a-masters-in-geology-so-I’m-a-scientist mode.

  24. #24 Ravilyn Sanders
    February 6, 2008

    Luskin keeps cribbing that “these are personal attacks”, “you have to stop these personal attacks”. When people call him a liar, it is no personal attack. It is a plain true statement of fact.

    He is really a liar with terrible record of misusing other people’s intellectual property. Remember the video he stole from Harvard, eviscerated the commentary and added his own automated city of life junk, all without any attribution?

    As a lawyer he should know that truth is an absolute defense against defamation and ignorance is no excuse. Especially since he persecuted that old prof about a tiny thumbnail image of him in some obscure personal website.

  25. #25 Wesley R. Elsberry
    February 6, 2008

    I find it hard to credit the “unaware of” story, too, though for a different reason. The Discovery Institute is hyper-sensitive about associations and affiliations. Would Casey have willy-nilly slapped the scarlet “A” on his post if someone suggested it would be a good idea out of the blue? It seems quite doubtful that Casey did not vet the “researchblogging.org” site for signs of “atheist” affiliation, if nothing else, before putting it on his post.

  26. #26 Tyrannosaurus
    February 6, 2008

    Why Creationists cannot admit wrong and move on? Although I don’t believe his lame excusses. He tried to claim legitimacy in peer review discussion and was caught cheating and misappropiating the logo for his cheap propaganda. Come on Casey at least have the guts to admit your wrongdoing!!

  27. #27 ndt
    February 6, 2008

    This is the same excuse GW Bush made for not anticipating the Iraqi insurgency. “We didn’t expect an insurgency!” was his actual excuse.

  28. #28 Alan Bird
    February 6, 2008

    I’ve already mentioned this over at BPR3, but did any else notice that the only person in that thread who leapt to Casey’s defense referred to biologists as ‘Darwinists’? Telling or what?

  29. #29 Bill
    February 7, 2008

    Me … I’ve got no dog in the fight. I don’t understand the origins of life and neither do any of you (or anyone on earth for that matter). Evolutionists haven’t got a shred of evidence to support their claims and Casey hasn’t got evidence God did it. People hate uncertainty so they flop one way or the other based on faith and emotion.

    But evolutionists have given away their agenda. Rather than wanting to engage Casey on substance (science is another name for that) they are hammering away on style over a very trivial issue. So it appears as if they know they can’t sustain their belief based on evidence so they attack Casey personally. This is the method made popular by Saul Alinsky – see is: Rules for Radicals.

  30. #30 Ginger Yellow
    February 7, 2008

    I’ve got to say that Luskin is stupid enough that I can believe he didn’t notice the url. I’ve said before that I’m amazed the DI would have someone with such a transparently atrocious understanding of evolution/biology as their mouthpiece. That said, he’s also dishonest enough to lie about something like this.

  31. #31 Bobby
    February 8, 2008

    Evolutionists haven’t got a shred of evidence to support their claims

    FYI, there are piles — museums — full of evidence for evolution.

    But evolutionists have given away their agenda. Rather than wanting to engage Casey on substance

    Luskin doesn’t have any truck with substance; there’s nothing to engage him on.

  32. #32 Kevin Wirth
    February 17, 2008

    Mike,

    I just stumbled across this little issue with Casey Luskin, and I do have some comments to add.

    First, I’ve personally known Casey for a few years now, and I can tell you this: if he says he didn’t know he did something wrong or offensive, he’s not lying about it. So, give up some slack on that one because I’ve always known him to have a high level of personal integrity. I have never known him to be intentionally deceptive or a liar. In fact, I have observed him many times seeking to do the right thing with respect to copyright issues.

    Second, yeah, you have the right to make the rules about how your little icon gets used – you have that right. But he somehow missed it. I’m not going to make any excuses for him – but dude – is he the ONLY person who ever missed your rules and posted your icon on their site?

    Third, you clearly do not understand something about online marketing tactics, and so, if I may point something out to you in a friendly way? You need to understand that just because your URL appears on your icon, that does not necessarily or automatically mean “hands off”. Are you aware that many companies actually WANT their logos and icons distributed as widely as possible and published on other sites, and that they view it as an act of promoting their business? Heck, they even PAY other people to do this for them. If you go looking, you’ll see this over and over and over on the internet.

    I can’t say if that’s what Casey might have thought, but, geez dude, when he was told that he shouldn’t have posted your icon, he DID immediately pull it down. Understand, other site owners would have been absolutely DELIGHTED to see their logo posted on another site, or HUNDREDS of other sites.

    So, as an internet marketing guy, I think you need to get out more and see that this kind of stuff goes on – and that to suggest that Casey lied about it is just about as untrue as water falling uphill.

    I say offer up a bit more slack dude. You need to see this as a case of someone who was promoting you. He didn’t remove the link from your logo when he posted it, he LEFT IT THERE. Do you really think a smart lawyer like him would be stupid enough to leave it there if he was trying to scam you in any way? I think you need to see this in a different light. If you were really smart, you’d actually be encouraging other sites to post your logo all over the place, with as few restrictions as possible so you could get as much exposure as possible.

    Think of it as free advertising for your site. That’s exactly how most of the rest of the world sees it. I can tell you this – any internet marketing pros who are reading this little ditty about how offended you are over what Casey did are shaking their heads right now in disbelief.

  33. #33 Emu Sam
    November 22, 2008

    Kevin,

    First, it is not this site that had the icon, it is ResearchBlogging.org. Second, ResearchBlogging.org has a set of guidelines for using their icon which Mr. Luskin in no way followed. The guidelines can be found at http://researchblogging.org/news/?p=53. He apparently made no attempt to determine if the guidelines applied to his use. Even if his excuses were true, it’s an indication that he did not even look at the icon before posting it, a sign of intellectual laziness which is worthy of condemnation. A person who wishes to be taken seriously by the scientific community and then pulls a stunt like that – again, even if his excuses were true – is demonstrating his unworthiness to join the community.