Time for another installment of, “How bad have things gotten for the ID folks?”
It is now almost a year since the big ruling in the Dover case. As I’m sure you recall, that’s the one where the ID folks put their most formidable legal and scientific talent in front of a Court, and the Court promptly laughed in their faces. Still smarting from this, they have decided that attacking Judge Jones is the way to go. But since there is no legitimate point on which Judge Jones can be criticized, they have decided to go to the old standbys of trumped up charges followed by phony outrage.
Here’s the DI’s press release, breathlessly reporting on their latest discovery:
The key section of the widely-noted court decision on intelligent design issued a year ago on December 20 was copied nearly verbatim from a document written by ACLU lawyers, according to a study released today by scholars affiliated with the Discovery Institute.
“Judge John Jones copied verbatim or virtually verbatim 90.9% of his 6,004-word section on whether intelligent design is science from the ACLU’s proposed ‘Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law’ submitted to him nearly a month before his ruling,” said Dr. John West, Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.
“Ironically, Judge Jones has been hailed as ‘an outstanding thinker’ for his ‘masterful’ ruling, and even honored by Time magazine as one of the world’s ‘most influential people’ in the category of ‘scientists and thinkers,’””said West. “But Jones’ analysis of the scientific status of intelligent design contains virtually nothing written by Jones himself. This finding seriously undercuts the credibility of a central part of the ruling.”
Goodness! Sounds bad doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t.
Over at The Panda’s Thumb, Tim Sandefur takes care of business:
Now, Vice President for Legal Affairs John West is not a lawyer, so he may not be familiar with the fact that this is exactly what proposed findings of fact are for. They are proposed findings which a judge, if he or she agrees, then incorporates as his or her own findings. Both the school district and the plaintiffs filed proposed findings, and the judge went with the findings he found most convincing. Incidentally, the school district doesn’t seem to have ever objected to the plaintiffs’ filing their proposed findings. (Emphasis in original)
After providing several precedents to back up this statement, Sandefur writes:
What’s hilarious about this complete non-story is what an obvious attempt this is at keeping alive a subject that has already been done to death. Like the wacky Larry and Richard, toting around the corpse of their boss, the Discovery Institute is trying hard to pretend that there is some life left in their portrayal of ID as a science unfairly persecuted by political schemers. They keep propping up the Dover case as proof of their status as censored visionaries. The press release claims that “A year after Dover, it’s the Darwinists who seem filled with gloom, not us,” but we still haven’t stopped partying over demolishing them in Kitzmiller. (You should see all the empty champagne bottles. Matzke’s gonna have a hell of a headache.) Meanwhile, ID creationism has been increasingly marginalized, and its defenders have grown increasingly desperate. Desperate enough to accuse Judge Jones of impropriety for following an obviously well-established legal procedure. Desperate enough to still be groaning over the licking they took a year ago. Desperate enough to portray a Republican Bush appointee as an “activist” pawn of ACLU lefties. Desperate enough to spend time figuring out percentages of similar-sounding words, rather than doing any, you know, research in biological science. Truly laughable.
Well said! See the original for links.
But inventing phony scandals is the least of the DI’s problems. Ed Brayton points out that virtually all of their substantive claims are false. Here’s a representative sample:
Here’s another example of an alleged error in the ruling:
ID is not supported by any peer-reviewed research, data or publications.
And here is their argument as to why it’s an error:
Expert witness Scott Minnich testified at trial that there were between “seven and ten” peer-reviewed papers supporting ID, and he discussed a pro-intelligent design article in the peer-reviewed biology journal, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. Additional peerreviewed publications were listed in an annotated bibliography submitted in an amicus brief accepted as part of the official court record by Judge Jones.
This objection amounts to “but we said otherwise and he didn’t believe us.” Well guess what? There’s a good reason why he didn’t believe you. Let’s look at what Minnich actually said about this peer-reviewed research:
I think yesterday there was, as I mentioned, there were around, between, I don’t know, seven and ten. I don’t have the specific ones. But Dr. Axe published one or two papers in the journal Biological Chemistry that were specifically addressing concepts within intelligent design. Mike Behe had one. Steve Meyer has had one.
Ah yes, the Axe papers, and Behe and Snoke paper. Yes, Minnich did mention them. Does that mean that those are indeed examples peer-reviewed research that supports ID? Not even close. In fact, those papers were discussed during the trial and completely debunked. The Axe papers in no way support intelligent design, nor do they claim to. In fact, Axe’s studies on perturbation rates in enzymes actually cuts against the notion of irreducible complexity because it shows that you have to knock out an immense number of amino acids in order to destroy all enzyme function.
Ed’s post is rather long, but that’s only because the DI said very little that was true. Go read the whole thing!
And I love the effrontery of that first paragraph. The very idea that the DI is the sort of place that hires scholars to study things is ridiculous. Like all crank outfits, everything the DI does is an exercise in pretending they are something they are not. People who know what actual scholarship looks like can see through the DI in a few minutes. That is why their minions do their utmost to avoid interacting with knowledgable people.
That’s what’s especially insidious about this latest collection of creationist lies. Anyone who knows anything about how legal decisions get written knows this is a non-story. But most people don’t know about such things. They hear that the Judge copied from another source and conclude that he is a plagiarizing jerk. That, of course, is what the DI wants. Worries about the truth of their charges are for people with consciences to deal with. That excludes the virtually everyone who works for them.