Dembski Finally Responds....Kind Of

It seems that William Dembski can be shamed into more obfuscation, but can't be shamed into actually being honest. First, a little background. On October 29th, Dembski posted an item on his blog in which he claimed the following:

Ask yourself why, after submitting almost 200 pages of materials against me in his expert witness report and after submitting to a deposition with the Thomas More Law Center in July, Jeffrey Shallit did not take the witness stand in Dover for the plaintiffs. Answer: his obsessiveness against me and ID made him a liability to the ACLU.

Clearly, the implication here is that Shallit did not testify at the trial because the ACLU believed him to be a "liability". To make that point much more explicit, Dembski wrote another post the next day in which he said:

Among the many posts I've deleted from the previous thread are those vindicating Shallit on the grounds that because the Thomas More Law Center removed me as an expert witness (citing a conflict of interest with FTE, the publisher of the textbook under dispute -- i.e., Of Pandas and People), it was no longer necessary for Shallit to be an expert witness. But in that case why was he deposed at all? I was to be deposed the second week of June (which was then cancelled when TMLC removed me). Shallit was deposed several weeks later. Clearly, the ACLU wanted him to discredit me and my work regardless of whether I was an expert witness. Let me suggest that his deposition was an embarrassment to him and the ACLU and that this was the actual reason for him being withdrawn as a witness at the trial.

Clearly, Dembski is arguing that Shallit was withdrawn as a witness by the ACLU because his deposition was an "embarrassment" and he had become a "liability" to the plaintiff's case. There's just one problem - this is patently false. I proved it false by showing that it was not the ACLU that that had decided that Shallit wouldn't testify. In fact, the ACLU wanted Shallit to testify even though Dembski had withdrawn as a witness and it was the defense that objected to allowing him to testify. I even posted a copy of the defense motion as well as a copy of the judge's ruling on that motion for Dembski and others to read.

Thus, Dembski's contention that Shallit had been withdrawn by the ACLU because his deposition was an "embarrassment" to the defense has been proven incontrovertibly, undeniably false. The "actual reason" Shallit did not testify at the trial was because the defense filed a motion to prevent him from testifying. That would be far more consistent with a conclusion that it was the defense who was embarrassed or afraid of Shallit's testimony, not that the ACLU (representing the plaintiffs) were.

Having posted that, I then placed the odds of Dembski actually admitting that he was wrong about this at being well beyond the "universal probability boundary" that he places at 1 x 10^150. A few people wanted to place one penny bets at those odds, but it appears I was right. Here is his latest post on the subject and he continues to get virtually everything wrong in this situation. And much to no one's surprise, he continues to refuse to admit he was wrong and tries to change the subject. He writes:

I've suggested on this blog that Jeff Shallit embarrassed himself under deposition with the Thomas More Law Center.

No Bill, you've suggested (and flat out declared) not only that Shallit embarrassed himself in his deposition, but that he was withdrawn as a witness by the ACLU for that reason. You're conveniently leaving out that last part because it has been proven false.

I've come to this conclusion because I helped prepare the TMLC to depose him and then heard back informally about how he did -- I was given details indicating that his performance was less than exemplary. Since then, the Pandas Thumb people have been huffing and puffing about his performance.

No, we haven't been huffing and puffing about his performance, we've been writing about your demonstrated lack of honesty. But your words are a matter of record and I posted them above, now for the third time. It shows enough intellectual dishonesty to make that claim without ever seeing his deposition. But you've compounded that by making demonstrably false claims about the circumstances of his withdrawal and refusing to admit you were wrong despite undeniable proof that you are. That's the mark of someone who simply isn't capable of being honest and admitting he was wrong. He also continues to blather about why Shallit should make his deposition public. He writes:

Both the TMLC and the ACLU will probably be arguing the Dover case for years to come as it moves up the appeals ladder (possibly to the US Supreme Court). To maintain good faith with the courts, neither the TMLC nor the ACLU is therefore in a position to disseminate Shallit's deposition to the public.

This is also false. Shallit's deposition has been a part of the public record for months now. It was Appendix III of the plaintiff's answer to the defense's motion for summary judgement. It already is publicly available and Dembski could secure a copy of it if he really wanted to. But he doesn't. What he wants to do is change the subject from his false claim to an unprovable claim and pretend that the issue was whether Shallit's deposition was an "embarrassment" (having read the transcript, I can assure you that Dembski and his sycophants will surely think it was, but no one else will) and not Dembski's false claim that the ACLU withdrew him as a witness for that reason.

I'd like to thank Dr. Dembski for proving me right for the third time now, that he lacks the intellectual honesty to admit that he was wrong even when shown beyond a shadow of a doubt to be so. That much should be crystal clear by now to everyone other than the fawning toadies who sit on his blog bowing and scraping all day long.

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I'm a trifle confused; who actually deposed him? TMLC or the ACLU?

By Rilke's Grandd… (not verified) on 11 Nov 2005 #permalink

More about William Dembski's honesty. He still crows at every chance he gets that he taught a course on ID at Northwestern University as a postdoc. I happen to know David Hull, his advisor when Bill was here, and yes, he did get away with teaching such a course, but only because David trusted him as an potential colleague. Mr. Dempski essentially duped Dr. Hull by using this as a platform for preaching the ID agenda instead of a real class on the philosophy of evolution. David's error was in trusting Mr. Dembski and expecting him to behave professionally.

By SomewhereOnThe… (not verified) on 11 Nov 2005 #permalink

This would be amusing if it weren't so utterly disgusting....

By Bill Snedden (not verified) on 11 Nov 2005 #permalink

You know, the ID crowd is right. Evolution *has* caused a fraying of the moral fabric of America.

The desparate shenanigans of Bill Dembski are a case in point.

Dembski wrote:

To maintain good faith with the courts, neither the TMLC nor the ACLU is therefore in a position to disseminate Shallit's deposition to the public.

Dembski sure seems to have no problem pontificating on topics about which he clearly knows nothing; in this case, the law. Unless sealed under a court order, depositions are public record. And if it's true that the deposition was a summary-judgment exhibit, I sincerely doubt it was taken under seal.

In that case, if Dembski wants to publicize the deposition to his heart's content, all he has to do is call the court reporter who took the deposition and pay for a transcript. He's just too cheap and lazy to do so; he wants the TMLC or the ACLU to do it for him.

By Kenneth Fair (not verified) on 11 Nov 2005 #permalink

Does anyone have a clue about what Dembski means by "I've come to this conclusion because I helped prepare the TMLC to depose him and then heard back informally about how he did -- I was given details indicating that his performance was less than exemplary." Of COURSE he helped the TMLC depose the man - the deposition was in response to DEMBSKI's works, right? And what would a 'less than exemplary' performance AT A DEPOSITION mean to anyone?

Less than nothing.

By Rilke's Grandd… (not verified) on 11 Nov 2005 #permalink

Here's what happened here. Someone at the TMLC told Dembski that Shallit didn't do well in his deposition (which means nothing, since they seem to think their whole case has gone well for them when the rest of the conscious world knows otherwise). Dembski certainly wants that to be true, of course, and therefore it must be true. So he boldly proposes it to be reality in public, without ever having seen the actual deposition, and he demands that the other side release the deposition when he should be asking the same person who told him about it to give him a copy of it. The deposition is part of the public record. There is no legal reason why it can't be given out. A phone call to the court reporter who took the deposition and a fee for the transcript and Dembski would have it in his hot little hands.

If anyone is willing to invest a little time and money, it might be worth it to obtain appendix III and send it to Dembski certified mail. If Shallit did this himself, it would carry extra impact and leave Dembski to explain either why he refused delivery or to concede that Shallit has nothing to be embarrassed about.

If I were doing this, I'd also send an overpolite cover letter "Prof. Dembski: I understand that you have had some difficulty obtaining a copy of Shallit's deposition in the Dover trial. I am sending it under separate cover by certified mail to insure its receipt. I trust it will be of interest to you and your readers."

Actually, it appears that he's made available all of the pertinent documents in this latest blog post of his. Whether he edited them in after your post, I do not know.

Maybe you should edit your post to reflect this new development.

Ken:

It sounds like there was already a transcript made, since Ed says it was filed as Appendix III of the plaintiff's answer to the defense's motion for summary judgment.

Fishy, Dembski's blog post includes only works authored by Dembski, which are curiously irrelevant to the question of whether Shallit choked in his deposition.

Any Pennsylvanians here want to take a trip to the courthouse and get a copy of Appendix III?

By Worldwide Pants (not verified) on 11 Nov 2005 #permalink

FishyFred wrote:

Actually, it appears that he's made available all of the pertinent documents in this latest blog post of his. Whether he edited them in after your post, I do not know.

Those documents were in the original post, but they are reports written by Dembski, not Shallit. The first two are his expert and expert rebuttal reports and the third is his latest strategy piece, irrelevant to the situation. Shallit's expert report has long been posted to multiple websites online.

It really isn't rocket science. Maybe the plaintiffs' trial tactics changed between the time of the deposition and the time of trial. It is not unheard of.

If the defense believed that the witness's testimony would be helpful to their case, they could, presumably, introduce it into evidence (there are various means). They had an opportunity to cross-examine him at the deposition.

I'm a trifle confused; who actually deposed him? TMLC or the ACLU?

If he was named as a possible expert witness who might be called at trial, he probably would have been deposed by the TMLC. Depositions of opposing parties' expert witnesses are not uncommon. They are usually in the nature of cross-examinations.

Hey, is there a new round of betting open now??? It seems the odds are increasing at such an exponential rate that the amount one could get for a penny would pay off the trade deficit for the month of August (an all time record btw).

Sigh. I retrieved a copy of Shallit's deposition on the 12th of October. If you Google "Shallit expert witness", the first response on the list is the NCSE page with the pdf file. It's hard to imagine how someone who was looking for it couldn't find it.

Which means, I think, that Dembski wasn't looking for it. On purpose. And none of the people whose comments on his blog survive his pruning are looking for it. On purpose.

The best possible interpretation of this is that it is the intellectual equivalent of clapping your hands over your ears and going "lalalalala".

I really wish there were a Latin name for that behavior. We'd be using it a lot.

By another_orphan (not verified) on 11 Nov 2005 #permalink

Dembski is just getting more and more weird.

I am not going to leave comments at his blog any longer; but if he is reading this he may like to consider this as something I would have submitted had I not promised to stop posting comments.

Under "Did Shallit Embarrass Himself? -- Part II, Dembski says:

Ed Brayton at [link] claims that Jeff Shallit's deposition is readily available as Appendix III of the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment in the Dover Case. See here for that motion. The table of contents lists no appendices. So what happened to them? Stay tuned.

Bill, the list of appendices that were supplied with that motion can be found in a footnote at the bottom of page two of the document you have linked. You should read these documents before making rash comments like this about them. Apparently the plaintiffs submitted six documents to the judge; the motion and five additional documents, including Shallit's deposition.

Nothing "happened" to them. They were all reviewed by the judge.

Roughly speaking, the deposition of Shallit by the TMLC was submitted by the plaintiffs as an attachment to an argument saying "We want to go to trial". They don't sound particularly embarrassed, do they?

And it really was the case that the defendants, well after taking Shallit's deposition, submitted motions to keep him off the stand.

Shallit really was a rebuttal witness. He was not withdrawn by the plaintiffs, except after Dembski was sacked by the defendants; and even then the plaintiffs wanted to keep the door open, ready to call Shallit if Dembski somehow ended up in evidence.

Cheers - Sylas

PS. I've read the deposition. It's 207 pages, a 3 megabyte pdf. A deposition is a long rambling questions and answer session; not a formal statement. Shallit's position is clear in his expert witness statement. There's nothing new in the deposition, and nothing that Shallit or the plaintiffs would find at all embarrassing. In my view, the TMLC lawyers taking the deposition look like clueless nitwits with some of their questions. I hope it does become available; and I suspect eventually it will.

PS -- for another_orphan... you've mixed up two things. The expert witness statement is not the deposition.

What you downloaded was the expert witness statement. It is the formal input of Shallit into the trial.

The deposition is different; it is a long transcript of a question and answer session in which the defendants try to find information that can help them prepare for cross examination at trial, or get other information that may be useful at trial.

Cheers -- Sylas

Credibility is an important thing, especially for those who wish to argue science. Dembski long ago lost his (did he think losing credibility was a badge of honor, like some think of losing virginity?). As time goes by Dembski proves himself increasingly foolish, incompetent, and dishonest. He has made himself into a caricature, a stooge.

I'm a trifle confused; who actually deposed him? TMLC or the ACLU?

If he was named as a possible expert witness who might be called at trial, he probably would have been deposed by the TMLC. Depositions of opposing parties' expert witnesses are not uncommon. They are usually in the nature of cross-examinations.