Judgment Day rocks

You can see the NCSE’s official stance on the NOVA documentary about the Dover trial at our website, but I want to add to that. The official stance is that it is “accurate,” which skips the part about how ID got its ass handed to it in Dover. The thrill of that victory was getting a bit distant, and it’s nice to remember just how badly ID (and the DI) blew it in their first big day out. The documentary does a nice job showing just how badly the IDolators screwed up, but they couldn’t pack all of their stupidity into a mere two hour show.

The re-enactments were nice, but the vaguely British actors were jarring. I’ve met most of the people being re-enacted, and I know that a lot was lost in translation. None of them are nearly so arch and aloof as their actors seemed. Kevin Padian is known for his off-color sense of humor, Barbara Forrest’s light Southern drawl makes her systematic dissection of ID all the more devastating, and Kenneth Miller’s calm, affable demeanor got lost in translation. Comparatively ancient primate Michael Behe is a bigger tool than he seemed like on camera, but it’s a family show and there have to be limits.

The highlights were:

  • cdesign proponentists: it never gets old, but where was the infamous chart?
  • Tree of Life: hard to get right, but they managed, and Padian did a great job explaining it
  • Neil Shubin and Tiktaalik: Shubin is really good
  • Fuller and “John loves Mary”: Fuller makes a fool of himself wherever he goes
  • Behe/DeRosier point-counterpoint: “I’m Marshall McLuhan, and you know nothing of my work,” and a great explanation of how the flagellum evolved
  • Bill Buckingham unloads on Judge Jones: Given that a perjury investigation is still open, not a smart move

Things I wanted more of:

  • NCSErs: selfish reasons
  • Discoers: because it’s nice to have their silliness on film
  • re-enactments of Jones: by the end of the trial, he lit into the lying witnesses, and I’d like to have seen that re-enacted

Very cool seeing people I work with on NOVA. Even cooler seeing the awesome case presented in Dover on the TV. Judge Jones has repeatedly said that he regrets not having allowed cameras in the courtroom, and I can see why. Our expert witnesses (including several who weren’t re-enacted, like Rob Pennock, Brian Alters, and John Haught) know this material, and have the rare ability to present the science of evolution and the history of creationism in ways that are compelling and fascinating. The ID side (expert witnesses and board members) made such buffoons of themselves that no reconstruction can capture it.


  1. #1 Ex-drone
    November 14, 2007

    People who watched and appreciated it should provide positive feedback to the PBS producers. I’m sure they’re going to get flamed by fundies and IDiots.

  2. #2 paul01
    November 14, 2007

    good point ex-drone. I sent them a nice note.

  3. #3 Some evolutionist
    November 14, 2007

    Time to buy 60 copies of the DVD and send them to Dover’s High School library as a anonymous donation with a catalog on the bottom labeled science?

    Okay too much of a waste of money for a good joke. Maybe if everyone just bought one DVD for themselves or for the local library. It might encourage PBS to do more.

  4. #4 pablo
    November 18, 2007

    I hadn’t intended on watching it since I was already on the good side of the issue and I was tired from a long day. But I watched the first few minutes and was hooked. I am soooo glad PBS had the courage to air this and NOVA had the sense to compile it.

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