Update on Dembski and Shallit

More information has come to light on this situation. I noted on Monday that Shallit had not testified, despite being deposed, because after Dembski withdrew the TMLC had objected to allowing him to testify and the attorneys reached an agreement that he would not do so unless they used Dembski's work in their defense case. There was some doubt, however, as to whether there had actually been a motion filed by the defense to prevent Shallit from testifying. As it turns out, there was. I've uploaded that motion and it can be viewed here (pdf file). All of this makes Dembski's claims the other day look quite silly. He claimed that the plaintiff's attorneys kept Shallit off the stand because his deposition was an "embarrassment" to them. But in fact, it was the TMLC who fought to keep Shallit off the stand. Perhaps because his deposition was so devestating to them that they feared putting him on the witness stand? Possibly. You'd have to see the deposition to judge for yourself.

I've read it and the only one who should be embarrassed by it is Richard Thompson, the TMLC director who did the deposition. He continually asked the same sort of irrelevant, well-poisoning questions that got him in hot water when he asked them of Barbara Forrest in court. Yes, he asked him about his ACLU membership and he asked him why he had spent so much time during his sabattical year writing a critique of Dembski's views. Those are questions which, asked in open court, would have just annoyed the judge as they did during Forrest's testimony because they just aren't relevant. They are the sort of well-poisoning tactics that may work with a jury of know-nothings, but no Federal judge is going to take them the least bit seriously.

I would suggest that Dembski should also be embarrassed to have claimed that the reason Shallit didn't testify was the alleged "embarrassment" of his deposition, especially since Dembski had never seen the deposition. But then, arguments from ignorance seem to be Dembski's specialty and he has never shown the slightest tendency to be embarrassed even when he clearly ought to be.

Update: I think this will be the final word on the Shallit issue. I've uploaded the court's rulings on a series of in limine motions, including the defendant's motion to exclude Shallit's testimony. This ruling came down on September 22nd, just before the trial began, and in it the judge refers to an agreement between the two sides that Shallit would not testify during the plaintiff's case, but would be reserved as a rebuttal witness if necessary:

As the parties agreed at the September 9, 2005 oral argument on Defendants' previously filed Motion for Summary Judgment that Plaintiffs will not present Dr. Shallit during Plaintiffs' case-in-chief and will instead reserve him as a rebuttal witness, if necessary, we will defer any further resolution of the issues presented in Defendants' Motion in Limine to Exclude the Testimony of Jeffrey Shallit, Ph.D. (doc. 154), until if and when they are reasserted by defense counsel at the time of trial.

If the defense uses Dembski's expert report in their case, then the plaintiff's will call Shallit to rebut the validity of that report. The TMLC will no doubt then offer objections to that testimony and the judge has deferred a ruling on that until if and when it occurs. At this point, it does not look like this will come to pass at all. So we have now conclusively demonstrated that Dembski's assertion that Jeff Shallit was kept off the witness stand because his deposition was "an embarrassment" to our side is false. The only question that remains is whether the odds of Dembski admitting he was wrong are above or below his "universal probability boundary" of 1 in 10^150.

Hat tip to Nick Matzke and especially to Jessica Moran, the NCSE's invaluable archivist, for tracking down the motions and rulings and passing them along.

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William Dembski has this odd habit when someone publishes a criticism of his writings. Rather than engage in substantive refutation of those criticisms, he often claims either to be the victim of some cosmic unfairness by the Darwinian Inquisition, or he claims that the person criticizing him is…
It has now been 5 days since I posted absolute, undeniable proof that Dembski's claims concerning why Jeff Shallit didn't testify at the Dover trial were false. That proof was in the form of a motion filed by the defense and Judge Jones' ruling on that motion, which proves incontrovertibly that…

You know, I followed the link to Dembski's blog. I made some comments, polite and reasoned as they always are and low and behold - they are no longer there. Apparently my supposition that I should be the one responsible for teaching my own child about my religious beliefs and not realy wanting his public school teachers was just way out of line - abusive even...Or it could have been my supposition that the reason the ACLU and Shallit had not realeased the Deposition could have been the same as the TMLC's - i.e. not wanting to piss off the court. Either way it is obvious how abusive and rude I was - totaly worthy of deletion and banning.

The irony is that while Dembski bans pretty much anyone who disagrees with him, no matter how politely they do so, he has two mouth-breathing sycophants - DaveScot and Robert O'Brien - who have made repeated comments on his blog complaining of being banned from here. In addition to erasing comments, Dembski also erases trackbacks in case his flock were to notice that someone had disagreed with him on their own blog. It's quite an echo chamber he has going. And true to form, these two obnoxious gits actually think that they were banned from here because I'm afraid of their ideas and not because they're first class assholes with all the charm of an ebola virus.

And by the way, Shallit had not released his deposition because it's not something he would be expected to do. None of the pro-ID experts released their depositions, our side released them because we were the ones who paid for the transcripts. Shallit's deposition is already a part of the public record and has been for months, so there is no need for Shallit or anyone else to "release it". This is all just Dembski blowing smoke.

Once this case is complete, I would really like for us to organize an effort to archive all of the pleadings, motions, transcripts, and orders from this case. I think it would be a useful resource to have in the long run.

By Kenneth Fair (not verified) on 02 Nov 2005 #permalink


I think that's already going on. I know Jessica has been collecting absolutely everything she can get her hands on for the NCSE archives. It's a lot easier to do that now than it is to do it 20 years later, as the McLean documentation project has found.

Slightly off topic, but I noticed over on Dembski's blog that there is a debate taking place tonight in Boston in which he is a participant; the topic - "Should public schools teach Intelligent Design along with Evolution?"

Naturally - given how the IDers have been screaming at us that they don't want to teach intelligent design, only the 'gaps in the theory of evolution' - I assumed Dembski must be on the Negative side.

But lo and behold, he's on the Affirmative.

How can this be? Great debate indeed.

I live in a western suburb of Boston. As far as I can tell, there was no general advertising of this so-called "debate." I doubt very seriously that Dembski et al would be taken seriously here in the Boston area.

I'm wondering what Robert O'Brien ever did to you?

By Nymphalidae (not verified) on 03 Nov 2005 #permalink

Nymphalidae wrote:

I'm wondering what Robert O'Brien ever did to you?

Okay, that actually made me laugh out loud. He hasn't "done" anything to me. Indeed, he provides me with much amusement of the "holy cow, this person is actually displaying this kind of stupidity in public" variety.

Yes, Robert has some goofy beliefs. But I know him, and he's not stupid.

By Nymphalidae (not verified) on 03 Nov 2005 #permalink


Yes, Robert has some goofy beliefs. But I know him, and he's not stupid.

Even the most obnoxious assholes in the world have people who like them. That doesn't mean they're not obnoxious assholes. Robert came to my page to take me to task for calling a man who wants to ban all books written by or about gay people from his state an idiot and a bigot. And he made such an ass of himself in the process that I ended up renaming my Idiot of the Month award for him. That prompted him to start his own blog just to attack me. Sorry, he's a first class, double-barrelled, grade A dickhead and there isn't much you can say to change that opinion. I'm sure he feels the same about me, but I doubt my friends are going to go whining to him wondering why he doesn't like me. They're too busy laughing at him.