Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Elsberry Does the Math

In a comment on a previous thread, my good friend Wes Elsberry, who literally wrote the program on text comparisons (a program approved for use and considered authoritative in Federal court, I might add), has compared the section of the plaintiffs proposed findings of fact regarding whether ID is science with the section of the ruling on the same subject. The analysis showed that Judge Jones only incorporated 48% of the findings of fact that the plaintiffs proposed that he incorporate. This is the nail in the coffin of this ridiculous argument. Every single precedent that they have cited showing higher court “disapproval” (never actually overturning, only disapproval) of lower courts copying the findings of fact deal with wholesale copying, i.e. where the judge accepted the entire proposed findings of fact from one side, without any selection or editing at all. And in two of those cases, the judge did so without even looking at the reply briefs from the other side or allowing them to be filed. The fact that Judge Jones incorporated less than half of the plaintiffs proposed findings into his ruling shows that he did not incorporate them either wholesale or uncritically, which is the only situation in which such behavior is frowned upon by the higher courts. As I keep saying, selective incorporation of findings of fact, even copied verbatim, is routine and accepted universally by the courts, which is why the briefs are typically phrased in the voice of the court.

Comments

  1. #1 andy
    December 19, 2006

    Will Wes provide a more detailed description of this v. interesting analysis?

  2. #2 Coin
    December 19, 2006

    Also, is it known whether ANY of the defendants’ proposed findings of facts or law were adopted? Like, even a single sentence?

  3. #3 Wesley R. Elsberry
    December 19, 2006

    The text is taken from the HTML version of the documents on the TalkOrigins Archive. You can see the matches found by my script online.

    Matches from the “Is ID science?” section of the decision that come from that section of the plaintiffs’s proposed findings of fact are here.

    Matches from the “Is ID science?” section of the plaintiffs’s proposed findings of fact that appear in that section of the decision are here.

    With that information, one doesn’t have to take my word for things. You can compare to the original documents to verify that what is matched should be matched (there is a small false positive rate) and that it doesn’t miss a bunch of matches (yes, there are some false negatives, but not a lot).

  4. #4 Kevin W. Parker
    December 19, 2006

    Also, is it known whether ANY of the defendants’ proposed findings of facts or law were adopted? Like, even a single sentence?

    “The [Dover Area School District] is comprised of Dover Township, Washington Township, and Dover Borough, all of which are located in York County, Pennsylvania.”

  5. #5 W. Kevin Vicklund
    December 19, 2006

    Also, is it known whether ANY of the defendants’ proposed findings of facts or law were adopted? Like, even a single sentence?

    I started to look at that, but the DFoF is one hundred pages of terrible spelling, atrocious grammar, meaningless sentence fragments, and repeated points without any supporting evidence. It looked like they were trying to win by quantity, not quality, of points.

  6. #6 Ed Brayton
    December 19, 2006

    That’s true, Kevin. The defendants’ finding of fact was one of the stranger legal documents I’ve ever read. They just listed claims – over 800 of them, for crying out loud, without trying to make any sort of coherent argument out of it. There was no organization to it, no attempt to connect to a theme. It was really quite strange.

  7. #7 sparc
    December 19, 2006

    The analysis showed that Judge Jones only incorporated 48% of the findings of fact that the plaintiffs proposed that he incorporate.

    Maybe the next thing Luskin comes up with is that Judge Jones didn’t even use 50% of the plantiffs’s arguments. A question remains though: How long will he be waiting?

  8. #8 Wesley R. Elsberry
    December 20, 2006

    While my comparisons of the “ID is not science” sections of the decision and PPFOF are OK, I discovered this morning that I didn’t have all of the PPFOF for the full document comparisons. That changes the numbers for the full document comparisons. In plain language, Judge Jones constructed an opinion that is 38% plaintiffs’s proposed findings of facts and conclusions of law. The judge used about 35% of the plaintiffs’s proposed findings of facts and conclusions of law to do so.

    I have put my source files and the match results up here:

    http://vangogh.fdisk.net/~welsberr/kvd/

    That includes the source files I used for the “ID is not science” sections.

    So if anyone wants to do some more checking to make sure that everything is there, feel free to do so.

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