Dispatches from the Creation Wars

As Wesley and I work on our book on the history of the Dover trial, one of the things we will have to incorporate and comment on is the absolutely frantic attempts by the DI to rewrite that history after the ruling came down. Watching their reaction evolve has been a source of great amusement to me. They were all for the school passing a pro-ID policy, sending lots of material to school board members to encourage them further. Once they realized that the board members had been so brazen about calling ID creationism and deliberating the issue in starkly religious terms (like Buckingham’s statement that it was time to “stand up” for someone who “died on a cross 2000 years ago”), they backed away and urged the board not to pursue it.

What most of the public doesn’t realize, but those of us who are active behind the scenes of this issue do, is that both sides had been actively looking for a test case on whether ID could be taught in public schools. The ID movement had launched in the aftermath of the 1987 Edwards ruling with a new legal strategy of removing all of the overtly religious elements of creationism to sneak the core unifying ideas of creationism passed the courts. That strategy had not yet been directly tested in court, but both sides were actively on the lookout for possible test cases. In so doing, obviously, we wanted one where the facts of the case were more friendly to the case we had to make in court. Dover fit the bill for our side but, clearly, not for the ID side; but since our side was acting as plaintiff, we got to choose.

It was pretty clear from the start that the bigwigs in the DI were not at all happy with this. They clearly understood that they might only get one shot at the courts, that a major loss in the first ID test case might spell the end of their entire strategy. And they knew, as we did, that the facts of the Dover case were strongly against them. That’s why they tried to talk the school board out of passing the policy, and it’s why they urged the Thomas More Law Center not to take the case.

But even after the suit was filed in Dover, there was still much bravado from some corners of the ID camp, particularly from the Dembski blog. In the midst of discovery and depositions in the trial, Dembski himself openly fantasized about finally having his day in court to get those evil Darwinists under oath and squeeze the truth out of them. He outlined it in a post where he rolled out his Vise Strategy. In it, he declared that he could hardly wait for “the day when the hearings are not voluntary but involve subpoenas that compel evolutionists to be deposed and interrogated at length on their views.”

And then there’s DaveScot’s attempt at prophecy, as he gleefully noted that the case has been given to a conservative Christian judge with close ties to prominent ID advocates:

Judge John E. Jones on the other hand is a good old boy brought up through the conservative ranks. He was state attorney for D.A.R.E, an Assistant Scout Master with extensively involved with local and national Boy Scouts of America, political buddy of Governor Tom Ridge (who in turn is deep in George W. Bush’s circle of power), and finally was appointed by GW hisself. Senator Rick Santorum is a Pennsylvanian in the same circles (author of the “Santorum Language” that encourages schools to teach the controversy) and last but far from least, George W. Bush hisself drove a stake in the ground saying teach the controversy. Unless Judge Jones wants to cut his career off at the knees he isn’t going to rule against the wishes of his political allies. Of course the ACLU will appeal. This won’t be over until it gets to the Supreme Court. But now we own that too.

That bravado was shared by the folks from the Thomas More Law Center, but I frankly think that was just a ruse. They are good enough attorneys to know that the facts were strongly against them. They were also good enough, at least, to know that they were seriously overmatched by the legal team the plaintiffs had put together for the trial; if not, they quickly found out once the trial began. Only the DI, however, really knew how badly the case was going to go for them and once the case was filed they put most of their energy into minimizing the scope of the loss.

That we would win was a safe bet, but we could win big or win little. Winning little would have meant a narrow ruling based solely on the purpose prong of the Lemon test, without any legal analysis of the nature of ID as unscientific. Winning big would be a comprehensive ruling on the effect prong of the Lemon test with direct reference to the unscientific and religious nature of ID itself. From the start, the DI seemed to focus on minimizing the scope of the win, on prevailing on the judge to issue only the narrowest possible ruling in the case.

DI fellow David DeWolf filed an amicus brief on behalf of a group of pro-ID scientists urging the judge not to rule on the scientific validity of ID or on whether it was essentially religious, arguing that “intelligent design should not be stigmatized by the courts as less scientific than competing theories.” DeWolf also authored a brief on behalf of the DI itself that argued that if the judge did rule on that question, he should rule that ID is scientific and not religious. Clearly this was the key to the DI’s trial strategy.

When the ruling came down, it turned out that we didn’t win little or big, we won huge. Despite the judge’s political alliances with ID proponents, we prevailed on every single argument we made in the case. It was a thorough rejection of the ID legal strategy. But of course, they couldn’t admit that publicly. Instead, they would try and downplay the signficance of the ruling. Indeed, some of them had begun to lay the groundwork for that claim a couple months earlier.

In a September 30th post on his blog, Dembski was in the mood to make predictions. He offered three possibilities: 1) ID wins; 2) the other side wins little; 3) the other side wins big. He put the odds at 20%, 70% and 10% respectively (one would think the Isaac Newton of Information Theory could do a bit better than that; let’s just say I’m not counting on Dembski to tell me whether Baylor is gonna cover the spread this weekend). But, he noted optimistically, even if the 3rd outcome was to happen, life would go on. After all, God himself was in charge:

Thus, unlike outcome 1., which would be a Waterloo for the other side, I don’t see outcome 3. as anything like a Waterloo for our side. It would make life in the short-term more difficult, and it certainly would not be pleasant to have to endure the gloating by the other side, but the work of ID would continue. In fact, it might continue more effectively than under outcome 1., which might convince people that ID has already won the day when in fact ID still has a long way to go in developing its scientific and intellectual program.

To sum up, we might say that outcome 1. would be a recipe for complacency, outcome 2. would encourage us to take greater care and try again, and option 3. would inspire us to work that much harder for ID’s ultimate success. I trust that Providence will bring about the outcome that will best foster ID’s ultimate success.

This is a standard PR trick of reducing expectations to help one control the spin, and the spin came fast and furious the day the ruling came down. On that day, the DI released a statement that tried in several ways to minimize the importance of the ruling. But the primary line they were peddling that day was that, despite the huge loss they had taken in court, ID would still prevail in the end. After declaring the judge whose appointment to the case they had greeted with such hope an “activist judge with delusions of grandeur” – gee, that was a shock – they said:

“Anyone who thinks a court ruling is going to kill off interest in intelligent design is living in another world,” continued West. “Americans don’t like to be told there is some idea that they aren’t permitted to learn about.. It used to be said that banning a book in Boston guaranteed it would be a bestseller. Banning intelligent design in Dover will likely only fan interest in the theory.”

“In the larger debate over intelligent design, this decision will be of minor significance,” added Discovery Institute attorney Casey Luskin. “As we’ve repeatedly stressed, the ultimate validity of intelligent design will be determined not by the courts but by the scientific evidence pointing to design.”

It was a brave face to present to the public, but that’s all it was. There is no doubt that they understood just how devestating this loss was to their movement and to the legal strategy they had poured such resources into. The fact that they recognized just how bad it was is supported by their subsequent behavior. They’ve thrown everything but the kitchen sink at Judge Jones’ ruling, keeping up a steady stream of criticism going for nearly 9 months now, including an entire book. In the process they have engaged in a great deal of revisionism. The latest example is this post by Logan Gage on the DI blog concerning the Behe cross examination.

He begins by saying that “every American” should be “troubled” by the following quote from Judge Jones in an interview:

I think that some of the cross-examination was absolutely fabulous,” said Jones. “It will endure, and I think it will be excerpted for advocacy classes. … I would say, in particular, Eric Rothschild’s cross-examination of Professor [Michael] Behe — the intelligent design proponent — that might be as good a cross-examination of an expert witness as I have ever seen. It was textbook.

And he uses this as a jumping off point to, once again, beat the dead horse with more complaints about the fact that Rothschild had presented some 50 books and articles on the evolution of the immune system to Behe on the stand:

I was there. The cross examination was pure sophistry. Rothschild did nothing more than twist Behe’s words. He then proceeded to do a theatrical literature dump on Behe–piling up the papers and books before the professor–and act as though because many scientific papers had the words “evolution” and “immune system” in the title then evolution by natural selection must have built the immune system. This was not an argument refuting Behe’s work. This was a stunt.

Bear in mind, folks, that the cross examination of Behe began early afternoon on October 18th and ended early afternoon on October 19th. An entire day was spent just on the cross examination of Behe, all of which Gage ignores except for one tiny portion of the questioning that took maybe 15 minutes. And his complaints about that portion of the question prove, under examination, to be hollow.

Every discerning person in attendance that day was surely asking himself, “If one of these papers or books has a piece of overwhelming evidence that the immune system was built by random mutation and natural selection, then why doesn’t Rothschild just open one of them and point to such a passage?”

Only a person wholly unfamiliar with how such research is done would think that. A truly discerning person would understand that the evolution of the immune system is a massive subject that has spawned, and continues to spawn, an enormous amount of research to work out the details. Only an ignoramus would expect or demand that there would be one “piece of overwhelming evidence” that would settle the issue once and for all. It simply doesn’t work that way. There is no single “crucial test” that proves such a theory, there is only the slow accretion of more and more detailed explanations, more and more experimentation to confirm discrete aspects of how the system might have developed. As usual, the IDers demand a ridiculous level of proof, one that they know cannot be met, and they demand that it be encapsulated in a single, easy proof, like a math problem. Science simply does not work that way.

What mainstream science has over ID, particularly in this area, is that those who study of the development of the immune system can actually do science. They can propose hypotheses for how a particular aspect of the immune system evolved, derive predictions from those hypotheses and test those predictions. And they do so, every day, in labs all over the world. Can you even imagine hypothetically how a scientist guided by ID would try and confirm the “god poofed it into existence” theory? It’s not even hypothetically possible.

For a good description of current research on the development of the immune system, look at this post at the Panda’s Thumb by Nick Matzke, or at this article in Nature Immunology by Matzke, Andrea Bottaro and Matt Inlay. Both articles trace the development of the transposon hypothesis and how it is being confirmed by ongoing research in comparative immunology. Is it slam dunk proof, wrapped up in a neat little package the way Behe demands? Of course not. But it’s the kind of research that can only be done within an evolutionary paradigm; ID offers no hope of ever confirming an explanation for its development. And the results of dozens and dozens of studies have continued to give weight to the evolutionary explanation, and all of the evidence found so far is consistent with it. That’s how science of this sort is done, not by a single geometric proof but by the slow accumulation of evidence and the step by step confirmation of a compelling explanation for that evidence.

Gage takes Judge Jones to task for praising this cross examination because of his misrepresentation of one tiny portion of it, but he ignores a great deal of brilliant work by Rothschild. There is a reason why observers of the trial, including myself, pointed to the cross examination of Behe as a key moment in the trial. Rothschild had Behe on the run from the start and extracted one crucial admission after another out of him. Here’s a short list of those admissions:

1. That there are many complex biochemical systems that he accepts as having evolved without any intelligent intervention, including systems that require multiple interacting parts in order to function (like hemoglobin or the antifreeze protein system in Arctic fish).

2. Admitting that when he used the phrase “purposeful arrangement of parts”, “purposeful” really only means “functional”. As I wrote at the time, using quotes from his cross examination:

So according to Behe, we know that a system was designed if it has a “purposeful arrangement of parts”, and we know that an arrangement is “purposeful” if the parts are “ordered to perform some function.” But wait a minute…when it comes to the antifreeze protein, a system that is obviously ordered (the development of the system involves a gene for a related protein, trypsinogen, being expanded, then duplicated, to produce a sequence of 41 tandem repeat segments) to perform some function (keeping the fish’s blood from freezing at low temperatures), Behe does not infer design. In fact, we have multiple examples of antifreeze proteins in different species of fish, all derived independently of one another through different pathways, controlled by different genes and resulting in different sets of proteins, all of which Behe apparently accepts as being well explained by evolution without the need for the intervention of a designer. Yet these systems show the same trait – multiple parts ordered to perform a function – that he claims is a positive test for design.

3. Getting Behe to claim that his book, Darwin’s Black Box, had undergone even more rigorous peer review than a journal article because it was a “controversial topic” and getting him to name one of the reviewers as Dr. Michael Atchison. They then pointed out that Atchison had in fact written that he had never even seen the book and that the full extent of his “peer review” was a 10 minute phone conversation with the editor, wherein the editor described the book and asked him if he thought the book was “a good risk for publication.” Furthermore, the other two reviewers were Robert Shepiro and K. Scott Morrow, both of whom have publicly said that they panned the book in their reviews. So much for that more rigorous peer review.

4. Getting Behe to admit that the computer simulation he published with David Snoke showed that an irreducibly complex protein binding site could evolve in less than 20,000 years even though they rigged the experiment to make it as unlikely as possible. I went into great detail on that particularly brilliant portion of the cross examination in a blog post the day after the cross examination.

And those are just a few examples. Judge Jones was absolutely right to call Eric Rothschild’s cross examination of Behe a textbook example of effective cross examination. It was all of that and more, and it was an extremely important reason why the judge ruled the way he did. Remember, Behe was one of only two scientific witnesses the defense had in the case. The fact that he was shredded on the stand was a huge blow to their cause, and all the after-the-fact revisionism they’ve done in the last year doesn’t change that a bit.

Comments

  1. #1 SteveF
    September 15, 2006

    Do you have an ETA for the book Ed? Also, what kind of publisher will it go to – i.e. any chance it would ever make it onto the shelves of UK bookshops?

  2. #2 Corkscrew
    September 15, 2006

    SteveF echoes my thoughts exactly – I want that book dammit!

  3. #3 J-Dog
    September 15, 2006

    Ed, you would have to be a REAL idiot, not to want this book! Thanks for the summary.

  4. #4 somnilista, FCD
    September 15, 2006

    I was there. The cross examination was pure sophistry. Rothschild did nothing more than twist Behe’s words. He then proceeded to do a theatrical literature dump on Behe–piling up the papers and books before the professor–and act as though because many scientific papers had the words “evolution” and “immune system” in the title then evolution by natural selection must have built the immune system. This was not an argument refuting Behe’s work. This was a stunt.

    Since Behe had stated that there is no literature on the evolutionary origins of the immune system, showing that such literature exists is a direct refutation of Behe. To do that, they didn’t have to show that the literature was correct, or that it proved the case for evolution, but merely that it existed.

    ..
    I’m sure after your book comes out, the DI will rebut it just as effectively as Casey Luskin has rebutted Chris Mooney’s book.

  5. #5 Ed Brayton
    September 15, 2006

    No ETA at this point. We were stalled for a bit on the writing, just due to Wesley being busier than any 3 people I know, but things are moving along now. We have a fallback publisher that we’re sure will publish the book, but we’ve been encouraged to submit it to the big four academic publishers as well. We’ve been lucky enough to have a couple fairly prominent authors offer to help us in that regard, so hopefully that will help grease the skids a bit with publishers.

  6. #6 somnilista, FCD
    September 15, 2006

    4. Getting Behe to admit that the computer simulation he published with David Snoke showed…

    No mention of Behe and Snoke should pass without mention of the response by Michael Lynch, Simple evolutionary pathways to complex proteins, Protein Science (2005), 14:2217-2225, which took Behe and Snoke apart pretty thoroughly, including showing that they literally did not know what they were writing about.

  7. #7 Ed Brayton
    September 15, 2006

    Thanks for that link, I’d not seen that. But even if we take everything in the Behe and Snoke article at face value, it argues against irreducible complexity, not for it.

  8. #8 Julia
    September 15, 2006

    “extracted one crucial admission after another out of him”

    My personal favorite is Behe’s admission, that “astrology is in fact” a scientific theory under the definition that would make ID a scientific theory.

  9. #9 gwangung
    September 15, 2006

    I was there. The cross examination was pure sophistry. Rothschild did nothing more than twist Behe’s words. He then proceeded to do a theatrical literature dump on Behe–piling up the papers and books before the professor–and act as though because many scientific papers had the words “evolution” and “immune system” in the title then evolution by natural selection must have built the immune system. This was not an argument refuting Behe’s work. This was a stunt.

    Um, no, it WASN’T a stunt. If it was, an expert witness, let alone someone of Behe’s so-called stature, could have dismantled it by showing how each and every one of these articles were irrelevant. Even showing a handful were irrelevant would have undercut the cross-examination. That’s the whole point of being an expert witness.

    Behe’s response pretty much made the cross-examiner’s point.

  10. #10 386sx
    September 15, 2006

    Can you even imagine hypothetically how a scientist guided by ID would try and confirm the “god poofed it into existence” theory? It’s not even hypothetically possible.

    Sure it is. Everything is hypothetically possible for a scientist guided by ID. Remember, they have a personal relationship with the designer so they could just ask for some fancy “poof” favors. ‘Please designer, let them see the way. Hallowed be thy “poof”. Amen.’ Something along those lines, for example.

  11. #11 somnilista, FCD
    September 15, 2006

    Can you even imagine hypothetically how a scientist guided by ID would try and confirm the “god poofed it into existence” theory? It’s not even hypothetically possible.

    Sure its hypothetically possible. How about a videotape of God poofing a new species into existence? It’s tougher to get such evidence accepted now that there’s photoshop, but it is hypothetically possible. For bonus points, the new species could have a genetic code and genome entirely unrelated to any other existing species. That is also hypothetically possible. You’ll understand if I don’t hold my breath waiting for it though…

  12. #12 sparc
    September 15, 2006

    Logan Gage:

    “then why doesn’t Rothschild just open one of them and point to such a passage?”

    Dealing with literature in this way fits well to fundamentalist circles (islamistic or christianistic) with their simple truths, but is in no way appropriate to scientific literature.

  13. #13 Rich
    September 15, 2006

    I’ll be wanting a signed copy, Ed.

  14. #14 avispex
    September 15, 2006

    I was thinking that this subject would make an excellent book as well. I am looking forward to it.

    I have a few quick questions concerning the trial. I have seen several times, including in comments from Ken Miller, that “both sides” requested that the judge rule on the question of whether or not ID was science. Was this something that occurred during testimony or argument during the trial? Is this something that lawyers need to submit in writing to a judge, and if so, is there a legal name for that process, or was that unique to this trial? Also, if these requests for a ruling were submitted in writing, are they available somewhere?

    Thanks,

    A

  15. #15 Raging Bee
    September 15, 2006

    Are you SURE they didn’t throw the kitchen sink at Jones’ ruling? You might want to check WorldNutDaily again.

    I wonder if Larry Fafarman is contributing his incisive legal analysis to any of the IDiots’ books on the subject…

  16. #16 mark
    September 15, 2006

    The People of Faith’s Sword and Shield, aka the Thomas More Law Center, was clearly expecting (or hoping) to lose the case, and then bring it to the Supreme Court (Richard Thompson was quoted many times saying he expected it to reach the Supreme Court). I guess he wasn’t thinking the creationists on the school board would be booted out in an election that took place before Judge Jones delivered his opinion.

  17. #17 Chiefley
    September 15, 2006

    “Can you even imagine hypothetically how a scientist guided by ID would try and confirm the “god poofed it into existence” theory? It’s not even hypothetically possible.”

    Actually, I beg to differ. I am conducting a scientific experiment on Intelligent Design. I have a big empty cardboard box sealed with duct tape on a bathroom scale. I figure with all the species on earth, there is a good chance a new one will appear in my cardboard box. So far it seems to weigh about the same.

    My concern though is that if nothing appears, the ID people will argue that they never said species are created. They only said they are designed. Do we need a companion theory called The Intelligent Creator? After all, if you use their mechanical analogies, you have to admit that most mechanical devices these days are designed by one intelligent agency and created by another.

    Lets start now asking the DI for their Intelligent Creator theory. ID is incomplete without it because it gives no mechanism for created species to come into existence.

  18. #18 Coin
    September 15, 2006

    He probably just outsourced manufacturing to a demiurge

  19. #19 Markus
    September 15, 2006

    Heh. Maybe there is an “Intelligent Designer”, it’s just that the Implementation Team just botches up a perfectly good plan, repeatedly. ;)

  20. #20 John Farrell
    September 15, 2006

    Looking forward to the book, Ed.

  21. #21 Tony Whitson
    September 15, 2006

    Ed, I followed the link from your post:

    “DeWolf also authored a brief on behalf of the DI itself”

    so that I could analyze its use of the term “scientific” (which I’m also doing with the other brief you reference).
    I was particularly interested in the claim about “methodological naturalism”
    (p. 22 of the brief), for which a footnote refers to p. 38 of Appendix A. When I
    tried to consult that appendix, I found that it’s not part of the same file. Tracking
    that down, it turns out that this Appendix A consisted of Stephen Meyer’s “expert witness statement.” Plaintiffs successfully petitioned to have that version of the Amicus brief thrown out, and another version was submitted later without that appendix.

    I don’t see the Meyers appendix on the DI site, but these are all in the archives at ncseweb.org. The point I was pursuing is the claim that “Even within biology, methodological naturalism is contested”, and that some “biologists, scientists, and philosophers of science reject methodological naturalism …” (p. 22, first version of the brief).

    When I found the footnoted text in Meyers’ statement, it turns out that the named figures are Isaac Newton and Louis Aggasiz [sic]. I particularly enjoyed this use of Agassiz since only yesterday I
    posted this quotation
    from Wells’ Promiscuously Incorrect Guide, as an example of the sort of thing that any high school graduate should be able to spot as erroneous, or else we know there’s something wrong with science education in this country:

    Owen and Agassiz did comparative biology, yet they rejected Darwin’s
    theory. … So comparative biology, like most other fields in biology, owes
    nothing to Darwinism. (Wells, p. 79)

    In any case, I wanted to point out the matter of rejected and resubmitted versions of DeWolf’s brief for DI itself.

  22. #22 Ed Brayton
    September 15, 2006

    avispex wrote:

    I have seen several times, including in comments from Ken Miller, that “both sides” requested that the judge rule on the question of whether or not ID was science. Was this something that occurred during testimony or argument during the trial? Is this something that lawyers need to submit in writing to a judge, and if so, is there a legal name for that process, or was that unique to this trial? Also, if these requests for a ruling were submitted in writing, are they available somewhere?

    This is done primarily through the arguments they make. And at the close of the trial portion, both sides then submit final briefs that include proposed findings of fact and proposed legal conclusions. And in fact, both the defense and the plaintiffs urged the judge to rule on the broader questions.

  23. #23 Ed Brayton
    September 15, 2006

    Tony-

    Yes, there were two briefs filed by the DI. The first was rejected by the judge because it included almost all of the expert witness reports from Meyer and Dembski. Since they had withdrawn as witnesses, allowing that material to be submitted essentially meant they could testify without being cross examined. The judge correctly refused to allow that.

  24. #24 Foggg
    September 15, 2006

    Great book-to-come, Ed! Having read 1000′s of his posts since 1992 and 100′s of your’s since 1998, Wesley and you will be excellent compliments as co-authors. He’s dry, you’re conversational, both very on-point.
    The only barrier to a classic historical reference work I can imagine is if you rush it, which you won’t.

  25. #25 avispex
    September 15, 2006

    It just occurred to me that I would be very surprised if Edward Larson is not also writing a book about this. I don’t see this as competition, but multiple views on the same subject. Considering how interesting I find this subject, I think there is room for many books.

  26. #26 Ed Brayton
    September 15, 2006

    Yes, there are several books in the works about the trial. As far as I know, Larson does not have one forthcoming. What makes ours unique, I think, is the approach to telling the story behind the scenes. There is so much that you saw in the press reports that has a fascinating backstory in terms of how that information got there. For instance, this post has led me to find out several things I did not know. Eric Rothschild emailed me to thank me for my defense of his cross examination, and in the ensuing discussion he mentioned that his line of questioning about the Behe and Snoke 2004 article came about as a result of collaboration with Ken Miller (bear in mind that the attorneys in such cases rarely have a scientific background, so a large part of the job of expert witnesses is to educate them, help them analyze and understand the expert reports and depositions and testimony of the other side). I mentioned that to Nick Matzke and he casually mentioned that the night before that cross examination, as they were working on it, he emailed someone else, someone not mentioned in any press report concerning the trial, for confirmation on some of the math they were going to use concerning the article. And further, that this person actually corrected some of their math and made it more accurate and helped sharpen their line of questioning concerning the paper. I won’t say who that was at this point, you’ll just have to buy the book. :)

    Those are the kinds of fascinating little details that will animate the book and the whole history of the trial. There are several dozen people around the world who have, over the course of the last 20 years or so, formed into an unofficial, largely undefined group. This group has gathered on various email lists and centers around the NCSE, the TalkOrigins group and now around the Panda’s Thumb as well, and it includes lots of scientists and academics, but also a few people like me who just have an interest in it. We have all spent many years involved in the evolution/creationism battle in various capacities, and together we have a collective memory and expertise. That proved vital in this case as we had people who had spent years studying this or that particular claim or argument, or the movement as a whole. And as the expert reports and depositions and testimony came out, we were able to use that collective memory and expertise to suggest weaknesses and ways to attack the arguments of the other side, and a lot of those things ended up being incorporated into the work of the attorneys in the courtroom, either in their cross examinations or in the closing arguments or in the overall strategy. There are just lots and lots of stories of how information and arguments got used in the trial, where they came from and who suggested them, and I think they really add depth to the story. And since Wesley and I are fortunate enough to know almost all of the experts and the people involved behind the scenes personally, we’ve got access to things that others writing about the trial just don’t have.

  27. #27 Torbjörn Larsson
    September 15, 2006

    “a good old boy” … an “activist judge with delusions of grandeur”.

    I appreciate exposing ID’s sore ass. It is ugly, but it must be done.

  28. #28 Michael J
    September 15, 2006

    From Australia it is hard to tell but I get the impression that the reporting of ID has changed since Dover. Prior to Dover ID got fairly sympathetic coverage or at least “he says, she says”. Since then, except for the more right wing press, coverage has been negative or has disappeared.

    In Australia there was a brief flurry of press during the trial when the local ID group sent out a video to schools. Happily, though, it was almost universally negative.

    Michael

  29. #29 Zarquon
    September 15, 2006

    There are several dozen people around the world who have, over the course of the last 20 years or so, formed into an unofficial, largely undefined group.

    See, it is a conspiracy.

  30. #30 sinneD34
    September 15, 2006

    He probably just outsourced manufacturing to a demiurge

    That comment reminds me of a discussion I had with a Jehovah’s Witness once over their little book, “Life: How did it get here?”. When I pointed out that god must be a poor designer because over 99.9% of all species that he created have become extinct, the “non-Watchtower approved” rebuttal was that maybe god let the angels do the actual “creating”. Possibly, the almighty one only gave the angelic host some basic blueprints to follow and then were allowed free reign to make any alterations they felt, which of course would result in less-than-perfect animals that we might expect to die out en masse. Man was made explicitly by god himself though, since we’re obviously so important and perfectly made!

  31. #31 Nick (Matzke)
    September 15, 2006

    Minor points:

    * In the PT post intro you say “mid-2005, when the Dover school board began discussing how to get ID creationism” –> should be 2004.

    * Shepiro–>Shapiro

  32. #32 Nick (Matzke)
    September 15, 2006

    I have a few quick questions concerning the trial. I have seen several times, including in comments from Ken Miller, that “both sides” requested that the judge rule on the question of whether or not ID was science. Was this something that occurred during testimony or argument during the trial? Is this something that lawyers need to submit in writing to a judge, and if so, is there a legal name for that process, or was that unique to this trial? Also, if these requests for a ruling were submitted in writing, are they available somewhere?

    All of the briefs filed in the case are online at NCSE’s Kitzmiller v. Dover Archive:
    http://www2.ncseweb.org/kvd/

    In the Plaintiffs official Complaint, filed on December 14, 2004, we wrote,

    14. Regarding specifically the theory of evolution, the National Academy of Sciences has stated that “evolution is one of the strongest and most useful scientific theories we have” and “[t]he scientific consensus around evolution
    is overwhelming.” The American Association for the Advancement of Science has stated that: “The contemporary theory of biological evolution is one of the most
    robust products of scientific inquiry. It is the foundation for research in many areas of biology as well as an essential element of science education.”

    B. Creationism and The Concept of Intelligent Design

    15. While the scientific theory of biological evolution is
    overwhelmingly accepted in the scientific community, it has been repeatedly attacked by persons who disagree with it on religious grounds because it is perceived by some to contradict their religious beliefs about the origin and
    development of life, including, but not limited to, acceptance of a literal reading of the creation stories in the Book of Genesis.

    On the other hand, in their official Answer to the Complaint, the Thomas More Law Center wrote,

    Intelligent Design is a scientific theory based on interpretation of scientific data by scientists; it is endorsed by a growing number of scientists who assert that intelligent causes are necessary to explain the complex, information-rich structures observed by biologists. It does not presuppose any supernatural being. It is not Creationism, which in its basic form holds that the biblical account of creation recorded in the Book of Genesis is scientifically accurate.

    Looks pretty clear to me.

  33. #33 ScottN
    September 16, 2006

    Ed,

    I suppose I might have to wait for the book, but I wonder if you might provide a comment on one aspect of Eric Rothschild’s cross examination?

    One of the descriptions I’ve read about that exchange (if I remember correctly) was that Rothschild pretty much “cheerfully” dissected Behe on the stand. It’s the “cheerful” part that I find interesting. I’ve read the transcript several times now – enjoying it each time, I might add – and the one problem with reading it is that you don’t really get the flavor of how the oral exchange went – tones of voice, demeanor, etc.

    The image I have is of Rothschild posing questions in a persistent, yet upbeat manner, and Behe on the defensive both in substance and in form. The outcome is what matters, but I just find it more impressive if Rothschild was essentially able to crush Behe (figuartively) without becoming an ogre.

    Thanks in advance.

    -ScottN

  34. #34 shiva
    September 16, 2006

    Where can I read the depositions? Are they also available to the public?

  35. #35 Ed Brayton
    September 16, 2006

    The only depositions that I know are publicly available are the three listed in the Wiki page for the trial (two school board members and the superintendant). I have access to the rest of them, but I don’t think they’re publicly available and I don’t think I’m authorized to make them available.

  36. #36 Nick (Matzke)
    September 16, 2006

    The depositions are all a public part of the record because they were all filed as Appendices to the Motion Opposing Summary judgement. I have most of them posted here:

    http://www2.ncseweb.org/kvd/?path=depo/

    …although there are a few I still have to dig out of the Appendices, which are here:
    http://www2.ncseweb.org/kvd/index.php?path=all_legal%2F2005-07_Summary_Judgement/

    …I suppose I should have announced this website, but I never quite finished and now other things have priority.

  37. #37 Nick (Matzke)
    September 16, 2006

    Ed,

    I suppose I might have to wait for the book, but I wonder if you might provide a comment on one aspect of Eric Rothschild’s cross examination?

    One of the descriptions I’ve read about that exchange (if I remember correctly) was that Rothschild pretty much “cheerfully” dissected Behe on the stand. It’s the “cheerful” part that I find interesting. I’ve read the transcript several times now – enjoying it each time, I might add – and the one problem with reading it is that you don’t really get the flavor of how the oral exchange went – tones of voice, demeanor, etc.

    The image I have is of Rothschild posing questions in a persistent, yet upbeat manner, and Behe on the defensive both in substance and in form. The outcome is what matters, but I just find it more impressive if Rothschild was essentially able to crush Behe (figuartively) without becoming an ogre.

    Thanks in advance.

    -ScottN

    Rothschild was grinning from ear to ear from start to finish. That’s just how he is. Knowing that you have the goods and the other side has nothing but bluster helps alot though.

  38. #38 Alan Fox
    September 17, 2006

    As the anonymous “commenter” at Pandas Thumb referred to in your earlier article linked above (publicly said), may I thank Ed for reminding me of those heady days, when an occassional blogger ex-pat in France could feel (for a few hours, at least) that he had contributed to a (maybe tiny) nail in the coffin of Professor Behe’s credibility.

  39. #39 Ed Brayton
    September 17, 2006

    For those who don’t recall, Alan Fox was the one who initially contacted Dr. K. John Morrow, one of the peer reviewers for Behe’s book, and found out that Morrow had panned the book as “absolutely appalling”. I then got in touch with Morrow as well, who sent me a copy of his review. Morrow had also asked Russell Doolittle, a very prominent expert in the field, to write a portion of his review on his particular area of expertise, which Doolittle also shared with us. I published that review here. So as it turned out, of the 4 named reviewers of Behe’s book (including Doolittle, who collaborated with Morrow), 2 of them said the book was absurd and terrible, a third said he disagreed with almost everything in it but did feel like it was the best exposition of its perspective that he had seen, and a 4th never saw the book and only had a 10 minute phone conversation with an editor about it, having never read it. And this is what Behe testified in the Dover case was “more careful” peer review than would be applied to a refereed journal article. That’s living in fantasy land.

  40. #40 Nick (Matzke)
    September 17, 2006

    Yeah, and the best part was when the Defense objected to Rothschild reading the Atchison essay into the record, because he thought we were trying to impeach Behe on religion grounds. Eric was grinning again, he knew what was coming.

  41. #41 Ron Okimoto
    September 19, 2006

    I think that you give the guys at the Discovery Institute too much credit. By Dover they had about zero faith that ID would stand up to legal challenge. They did support the Dover board at first, but my take on it is that they were planning to Ohio them. Did the Ohio state board end up with a scientific theory of ID to teach? It was a classic bait and switch scam that they played on the Ohio board. The claim was that there was some science to teach about ID and all they ended up with was the stupid creationists obfuscation scam (teach the controversy). Just try and find ID mentioned in the Ohio model lesson plan. They deleted all references to ID from the initial drafts. Since they had already worked such a bait and switch before, there is no reason to believe that they were not going to do it again. Their problem was that the Dover rubes would not take the switch.

    ID went to court not because the ID scam artists thought that it had a chance, but because they were not able to get the rubes to switch to the replacement scam. It is a good bet that the ID creationist scam artists knew that ID would be a failure in court for at least half a decade (since they came up with the replacement scam). Why would they need a replacement scam if ID was all that it was cracked up to be? Ohio demonstrates that they knew ID was a failure since, at least, 2002. By Dover I doubt that anyone at the Discovery Institute thought that ID would have a chance in court.

  42. #42 Peter
    September 21, 2006

    Regarding the following:

    That comment reminds me of a discussion I had with a Jehovah’s Witness once over their little book, “Life: How did it get here?”. When I pointed out that god must be a poor designer because over 99.9% of all species that he created have become extinct, the “non-Watchtower approved” rebuttal was that maybe god let the angels do the actual “creating”. Possibly, the almighty one only gave the angelic host some basic blueprints to follow and then were allowed free reign to make any alterations they felt, which of course would result in less-than-perfect animals that we might expect to die out en masse. Man was made explicitly by god himself though, since we’re obviously so important and perfectly made!

    This aspect of IDC always gives me a chuckle because it reminds me of Time Bandits, a Terry Gilliam movie wherein a bunch of dwarves have stolen the Map of Time from God and are running around earth’s history stealing all sorts of things. When the little boy asks the bandits what they have done, they say that they designed the Giant Bungaroo, a tree 1,000 feet tall that smells really awful! God inevitably threw the Bungaroo out from the creation. Bummer.

    Also, I’d like to add that as someone who attended only the last day of the trial, it was astonishing to see the mismatch between the legal teams. Steve Harvey, though not so boyishly charming or funny as Rothschild, had an such an intense and penetrating demeanor combined with a sort of flippant incredulity at the things coming from Scott Minnich’s mouth. Harvey knew his stuff. When Minnich would assert his drivel, Harvey had this great attitude (great if you were on his side) that was the lawyer’s version of a fourteen-year-old girl coldy putting someone down:

    Q. Please tell me whether you agree with this statement. Neither you nor Dr. Behe has set out to do any original research to show that the bacterial flagellum could not have evolved, as you contend?
    A. I think the work that I’ve published on for the last 12 years bears on this question of irreducible complexity, but I’m not aware of specific experiments addressing, you know, I mean, real lab experiments addressing the evolution of this structure.
    There have been plenty of publications comparing the flagellum with the type III secretory system and whether it’s an intermediate. So, in that sense, I think some of my work bears on that as well.
    Q. So in other words, you agree with the statement I said?
    A. Repeat the statement.
    Q. Neither you nor Dr. Behe has set out to do any research to show that the bacterial flagellum could not have evolved?
    A. I want to qualify that. You know, the thing that’s interesting to me was, back in 1994, my laboratory, my students and I were the first to propose that the bacterial flagellum could be used for other than secretion of flagella proteins. We were the first to actually predict that the type III secretory system, which we didn’t know existed at that time period, would either be the basal body of the flagellum or a structure that looked very much like it. Okay.
    So I think that I have had some impact in this area directly. And the ironic thing is that, presenting this at scientific meetings and in grant proposals, it was considered a whimsical idea because there was no apriority evidence that the secretion of virulence factors or the flagellum had anything to do with each other.
    Q. Well, would it be fair to say that, neither you nor Dr. Behe has published any papers in scientific journals on whether — on the evolution or not of either the type III secretory system or the bacterial flagellum?

    The insistence on Harvey’s part and his exasperated “cut the shenanigans” attitude made for great drama and illumination – just what you want from lawyers. You compare that to any of the Muise examination and you see how pitiful they appeared in comparison. Genius.

    I’m really looking forward to your book Ed. I want autographs from everyone. I’m serious. I never followed any event so closely my entire life as I read each day’s transcript as it became available and then covered it myself.
    Thanks a million.

  43. #43 Ed Brayton
    September 21, 2006

    Peter-

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the mismatch in legal talent in this case was even wider than in the OJ trial. This was the Globetrotters vs the Washington Generals. It was the New York Yankees against the local rec league softball team.

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