Archive for Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Dodos’ circling around I.D.

Film explores intelligent design-evolution ‘circus’

January 4, 2006


Kansas and an extinct bird share top billing in a new documentary film called "Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus."

The 84-minute movie, portions of which were filmed in Lawrence, is slated for upcoming preview screenings at Harvard University and other prestigious venues.

The movie explores the science controversy in Kansas and Dover, Pa., which pitted mainstream scientists against proponents of intelligent design. It focuses on tactics and which side is winning or losing the public relations battle.

Randy Olson, the former Kansas University student, marine biologist and filmmaker behind the documentary, said Tuesday that mainstream science was losing the fight for public opinion because most scientists aren't adept at public relations.

"'Flock of Dodos' revolves around the dodo as a metaphor," Olson said of his film. "When an environment changes, you run the risk of extinction if you don't change. The media environment of our country has changed, and the conservatives have figured that out. Scientists have not done a good job of figuring that out and they are running the risk of going the way of the dodo."

"Flock of Dodos," a film by former Kansas University student Randy Olson, shows how tactics employed by intelligent design proponents make the concept attractive to people. The documentary will premiere next month in Overland Park.

"Flock of Dodos," a film by former Kansas University student Randy Olson, shows how tactics employed by intelligent design proponents make the concept attractive to people. The documentary will premiere next month in Overland Park.

Olson said evolution is the foundation of his own scientific knowledge but that he doesn't take sides in the documentary, instead showing how tactics employed by intelligent design proponents make the concept attractive to people.

"It's academics, it's environmentalists - they don't understand the fact that we live in a society where the facts alone are not sufficient," he said. "Science absolutely requires two elements - you do the science and then you communicate it. Science really neglects the communications side."

Much of the film covers the controversy over public school science standards in Kansas.

Last year, the State Board of Education approved science standards sought by supporters of intelligent design, which open evolution to criticism although mainstream scientists say the theory is growing stronger each year thanks to new evidence supporting it.

The education board held hearings in May that drew international attention and showcased intelligent design.

Hitting the theaters

A trailer for "Flock of Dodos" and information on the documentary can be seen at

The film will have its first public screening at 7 p.m. Feb. 2 at the Glenwood Arts Theater, at 95th Street and Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park. A panel discussion with supporters of both evolution and intelligent design will follow.

Kansans in the film include State Board of Education members Sue Gamble, Kathy Martin, Connie Morris and Bill Wagnon; intelligent design supporters John Calvert and Dr. William Harris; pro-evolution scientists Steve Case and Daphne Fautin, both Kansas University scientists; John Burch, Lawrence businessman; Jack Cashill, Kansas City, Mo., conservative author; Ed Leydecker, film producer; Randy Olson, maker of "Flock of Dodos"; and Muffy 'Moose' Olson, the filmmaker's mother.

Steve Case, a Kansas University scientist who led a committee that wrote pro-evolution science standards that were later rejected by the education board, appears in Olson's documentary.

"I doubt if it is one way or the other in its point of view," Case said of the film. Olson "is tending to explore why each side doesn't get it, and why we can't hear each other talk."

Case said it was probably true that it is scientists who have failed in the public relations battle.

"The Discovery Institute (which backs intelligent design) has hired a marketing firm. There isn't an equivalent for science," Case said.

Olson filmed portions of the documentary in Lawrence, including an interview with an intelligent design supporter at The Wheel, 507 W. 14th St.

Olson graduated from Shawnee Mission Northwest High School and then attended KU several years before going to Harvard to get his doctorate as an evolutionary ecologist. He later attended University of Southern California to become a filmmaker, and has worked with top Hollywood actors in short comic films.

He said despite the name of his new documentary, he's not trying to poke fun at his native state, but said Kansas has a negative reputation because of the fights over science.

"Over the past 10 years, something has happened that has given Kansas a national image that saddens me. Somebody failed to consider the larger aspects of public relations in this," he said.


neopolss 12 years ago

"The media environment of our country has changed, and the conservatives have figured that out. Scientists have not done a good job of figuring that out and they are running the risk of going the way of the dodo."

That's why an overwhelming 66% of those asked supported evolution and NOT ID. Scientists do not need to argue this point, common sense is working pretty well. Most of us can still smell smoke when its there.

Shardwurm 12 years ago

God Bless him for making the movie!


mcoan 12 years ago

"It's academics, it's environmentalists - they don't understand the fact that we live in a society where the facts alone are not sufficient,"

---Yes, that's the really scary part. People don't really care about facts and logic anymore. How sad.

And how sad for Kansas that IT has to be the test case for so much of the ID debate. And how sad the governor hasn't addressed the issue in terms of the negative economic impacts. She's not a leader.

badger 12 years ago

Really, though, what can the governor do or say?

The Board of Education is elected by the same people who put her in office. She can't un-elect them, she can't take away their power, she can't undo any of this.

All she could do is get into a shouting match with them, and some of them have shown they aren't above taking cheap personal shots and getting nasty about a conflict pretty quick. The better part of grace and dignity is not to get involved while it is still a shouting match, but to be looking at ways to minimize that economic impact - one of which is not presenting yet another spectacle to the world at large of Kansan infighting, sniping, and one-liners.

I imagine she also realizes that the next round of BoE elections will tell whether ID is what Kansans really want. If they really want it, then they really want it and they should have it.

The BoE could perhaps take a lesson from the observation that being a leader does not necessarily mean that one must use one's own personal beliefs as the framework for developing public policy.

concerned_citizen 12 years ago

I guess Randy Olson beat Michael Moore to the punch. Yes it is very sad that science is losing ground because scientists are inept at PR...but wait...when was the last time anyone saw an ad for ID that made them nod their heads in approval?

Am I wrong or is this guy's premise that all of us Kansans are too stupid to make up our own minds about this issue and will just fall prey to the oh-so-slick marketing tricks of the ID Posse, and those poor PhD scientists are too inarticulate and Poindexterish in their lab coats and geek glasses to market their product. Maybe if they put out a "Girls of Paleontology" calendar they could persuade some of us all too easily duped Jayhawks, instead of, you up careers in science to work in Hollywood. I guess that's an Intelligently Designed career move.

I'd like to see the film but based on this article I'd watch with a propaganda radar on.

lunacydetector 12 years ago

i wonder if the movie correctly displays that the majority of Christians believe in evolution - or does it group all Christians together? i am curious if there is any ignorance towards Christians from the film maker.

fossilhunter 12 years ago

"Girls of Paleontology" -- Yea! Now there's an idea!

pepper_bar 12 years ago

will the Violent Hillbillies de la Big Pickup Truck make a cameo appearance in this production?

bankboy119 12 years ago

Whoa whoa whoa, Das now there is a cheap shot. What you have just said is completely stereotypical and asinine. You're saying that because I believe in a God I'm uneducated? You sir, madam(not sure which) need to go back to your college and get yourself an education. I have presented "scientific" information that gives so called "proof" to Creationism and also have argued against evolution. Would you like me to cite many more sources of people who are much more qualified than me that you can read and get a more "intelligent" argument for the case?

bankboy119 12 years ago

Former Atheist Says God Exists By: Cliff Kinkaid (Editor of the AIM Report) Insight On The News December 21, 2004

It didn't make news, on the front or back pages of leading American newspapers, but Professor Antony Flew, a prominent British philosopher who is considered the world's best-known atheist, has cited advancements in science as proof of the existence of God. This is comparable to Hugh Hefner announcing that he is becoming a celibate.

At a symposium sponsored by the Institute for Metascientific Research, Flew said he has come to believe in God based on developments in DNA research. Flew, author of the book, Darwinian Evolution, declared, "What I think the DNA material has done is show that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements together. The enormous complexity by which the results were achieved look to me like the work of intelligence."

Associated Press distributed a December 9 story by religion writer Richard N. Ostling about Flew's conversion. Flew told AP that his current ideas had some similarity with those of U.S. "intelligent design" theorists, who believe the complexity of life points to an intelligent source of life, rather than the random and natural processes posited by Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

fossilhunter 12 years ago

Bankboy - what he said was that there is a direct correlation with education and belief in ID. The more education a person has, the less likely to be a supporter of ID. That's the facts, no editorial comment.

wonderhorse 12 years ago


Yet you believe in a printed book. Interesting, "good little sheep."

wonderhorse 12 years ago


"The Portuguese would simply walk up to the harmless birds and kill them for food."

And from what I have read, they tasted good.

pepper_bar 12 years ago

Das, what do you think you're accomplishing here with the name calling of ID proponents?

badger 12 years ago

pepper_bar -

You call out Das_Ubermime for 'name-calling' because he states the verifiable fact that statistically speaking, fewer people with advanced degrees and more education are supporters or advocates of ID/Creationism than are supporters of the theory of evolution.

Nowhere did he say that all smart people are highly educated, or that only smart people are highly educated. He never said uneducated = dumb.

It's not name calling to say that X percent of people who didn't finish high school support ID, that <X% of people who finished high school but not college support it, that < (<X)% of people who completed an undergraduate degree support it, and that <(<(X))% of people who have graduate degrees support it.

It's also not calling names to say that the majority of people who support ID do not have a thorough grounding in the sciences (and also that the majority of people who have a thorough grounding in the sciences do not support ID), and it's not calling names to say that if you attempt to define and speak upon science in the public realm without that thorough grounding, you are behaving foolishly.

Where has this impassioned objection to name-calling been in your earlier posts, when you indulged in it, and supported those who did it - so long as they were on your side?

I have a name to call people who only object to unfair play from those they don't agree with. It starts with an h and it ends with an e, and the first part sounds like the name of a fat river mammal.

If you have a thorough enough grounding in the sciences, I bet you'll guess it.

wonderhorse 12 years ago


I don't know, maybe it did taste like chicken. At this point in our time, I guess I will never know. Oh, well, there are a lot of things I will never know. As has been said in the movies (wish I could remember where I heard it), "get used to disappointment."

rhd99 12 years ago

Hmm, Dodos & conservatives-Great combination. Wonder who'll be the dodos in this movie-hmm, Shallenberger & Kline?

wonderhorse 12 years ago

As much as I support the science behind it, I'm not sure I can get into this. I'm not that sure that I want another meat that tastes like chicken. I think chicken is good enough (rattlesnake does not taste like chicken. It is very tasty and tastes like rattlesnake.)

rhd99 12 years ago

Let me be clear here folks, the smear campaign against individuals such as Kline & Shallenberger are justified because of their hatred towards change or people who support change in our society. They did this to themselves.

wonderhorse 12 years ago

I am sorry that I was intolerant of omb being intolerant of intolerant people. I'll try to be more tolerant in the future.

Cabbages? Do you have kings? If so, I'll go all Alice with you.

ID still isn't science. Thus, the asides.

Godot 12 years ago

"Posted by Das_Ubermime (anonymous) on January 4, 2006 at 10:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I think that Olsen is just playing off a old stereotype that scientists cannot communicate well. "

All one has to do is read the pro-evolution posts in the LJW over the past few months by people who claim to be scientists or academics, and you will find all the proof you need as to why so many people are willing to criticize evolution. You will see clearly the attitude taken by the pro-evolutionists is that people who questions evolution are just dumb and ignorant, and it is their religion that makes them so. How can anyone expect to people who are being insulted to listen with an open mind and heart?

The truth is that people who question the infallibility of evolution have simply not been convinced by the scientists. The fault is with the communicators, not the communicatees.

wonderhorse 12 years ago

Yo, 75%

You are the one that wrote "Or are we just supposed to be good little sheep and believe anything that appears in print?" I might be incorrect, but as I remember your past postings, you believe in a book called the bible (that is in print), that was written by men, and that lots of good little sheep pretend to follow. Am I wrong somewhere?

Quite frankly, I don't care what Olson says. He is his own person, and can say whatever he wants. It still does not change the facts that ID is not a science, has never had an article supporting it published in a peer-reviewed journal, and can't (according to a federal judge) be taught as a science.

wonderhorse 12 years ago


I'm not sure what writing ability has to do with the theory of evolution, but that aside, I think the writing of the people that support scientific methods has been OK, considering that this is a blog, and not an English class. They are open-minded. The main theme, in case you haven't percieved it, is that ID is not science. It has no laboratory backing, and there has been no publication of a paper supporting ID in a peer-reviewed journal. Just one. That's all I ask.

BunE 12 years ago

I have spent a lot of time and effort fighting evolution. Then I went to and now I loves me some creationism.

I have decided that because I have found the way, I am also going to join the BoE's attempt to remove the "public" from public Schools, gonna support Phil Kline in his attempts to allow us to have machine guns but no abortion and to reduce the amount of spending we waste on the poor, instead giving more tax breaks to business and protecting them from lawsuits when they make products that are badly designed and manufactured.

Now, THAT is wisdom.

Godot 12 years ago

Wonderhorse, if you were referring to me,

I'm thinking you might be wrong about my posting something about belief in the bible because I am only summer-bible-school familiar with it. If I dared make a statement about what it says or means, I would, no doubt, immediately be proven wrong by someone who has studied it and has a strong belief.

If I mentioned the bible, I might have been yanking someone's chain. This is, after all, just a blog.

When I wrote that the scientists are the ones who have not communicated well, I failed to make myself clear. I referred to science educators, as a whole, with regards to the infallibility of evolution theory. If some of us don't get it, but we get lots of other complicated subjects, even abstract ones, why are we called dumb just because we have questions about this one theory?

wonderhorse 12 years ago


I was only referring to you in my post that started with your screen name. I can appreciate your beliefs. If an educator spouts about the infallibility of the theory of evolution, then I'm with you. I've never heard one take that stance. The theory of evolution is only the best explanation of the facts that we have now, not the only explanation. But, as being the best explanation, it is the one that is taught, since it is backed by the scientific method of research. ID has no scientific backing. Does the theory of evolution have holes? Yes. But on the other hand, we cannot dig up the entire world to find fossils. They (fossils) may or may not exist because it is physically diffcult for a fossil to form, and most dead things DON'T fossilize. They rot.

Linda Aikins 12 years ago

you all are so cracking me up today!

devobrun 12 years ago

Godot, you're on to something. Hurray!

Whenever I post on these boards, I am assaulted as being ignorant, stupid, closet christian, etc. Biologists and especially evolutionists are fighting battles that cause them to have a significant amount of venom in their souls.

To biologists,I can't possibly question evolution and be a scientist. It is cognitive dissonance to question Darwin and be a scientist at the same time. After all, the story that goes along with everything biological is "evolved" . As in "It evolved into....... ".

So, when I ask questions about evo statements, I get the "ignorant, stupid, must be a christian". I get, "evidence is test", "many scientists of high esteem believe". Yikes!

There is no more specious statement than the definition of science that couples evidence and test together as if they are the same thing. Instead of "test", one often finds "experimental investigations". Not "test to refute" ala Popper. Here's a good example of the sorry state of evolutionary biology:

"The honest scientist, like the philosopher, will tell you that nothing whatever can be or has been proved with fully 100% certainty, not even that you or I exist, nor anyone except himself, since he might be dreaming the whole thing. Thus there is no sharp line between speculation, hypothesis, theory, principle, and fact, but only a difference along a sliding scale, in the degree of probability of the idea. When we say a thing is a fact, then, we only mean that its probability is an extremely high one: so high that we are not bothered by doubt about it and are ready to act accordingly. Now in this use of the term fact, the only proper one, evolution is a fact. For the evidence in favor of it is as voluminous, diverse, and convincing as in the case of any other well established fact of science concerning the existence of things that cannot be directly seen, such as atoms, neutrons, or solar gravitation ....

So enormous, ramifying, and consistent has the evidence for evolution become that if anyone could now disprove it, I should have my conception of the orderliness of the universe so shaken as to lead me to doubt even my own existence. If you like, then, I will grant you that in an absolute sense evolution is not a fact, or rather, that it is no more a fact than that you are hearing or reading these words."

- H. J. Muller, "One Hundred Years Without Darwin Are Enough" School Science and Mathematics 59, 304-305. (1959)

It is no wonder that evo/bios get into arguments with christians. This guy will cease to EXIST if evolution is falsified. Do ya think he's going to conduct a test to try to do so?

Godot 12 years ago


At least you allow that because I question some conclusions of evolutionary science that I am at least only ignorant and not necessarily mentally deficient.

I am convinced that evolution occurs.

The way evolution is taught evolves, as well. What I learned in high school and college biology classes years ago has been supplanted by newer information. It is apparent that in order to understand it and appreciate, not just evolution theory, but evolution science, one must continually return to the well to re-learn, un-learn and discover new ideas.

Given that, why wouldn't we encourage students to be skeptical?

Kodiac 12 years ago


To be skeptical of what?

You are not being very clear here. Skeptical with the overall theory are skeptical with parts of the theory? Science is all about skepticism. Science would not be where it is today without skepticism.

Kodiac 12 years ago


You never cease to amaze. I cannot understand why you continue to post on here after being assaulted as being ignorant, stupid, closet christian, etc. Also I would imagine that most people that post on here are not evolutionists and/or biologists actually working in these fields. To blantantly assign such stereotypes to persons in these fields based on what people say on this blog is yes let just say it "ignorant" Your viewpoints may not point to any particularly dogma but I can still say they are extremely narrow-minded and based on ideas strictly from an engineering standpoint. I suggest that you stick with electrical engineering and teaching physics at Bishop Seabury. I also think that if were a school administrator at Bishop Seabury, I would ask you to stop publicly airing your viewpoints for fear of losing potenital students.

Your Buddy Kodiac

pepper_bar 12 years ago

badger - please locate one of my posts that would make me a hypocrite here.

das - i'm not whining, just asking what you think you're accomplishing.

devobrun 12 years ago

Kodiac, "I cannot understand why you continue to post on here after being assaulted as being ignorant, stupid, closet christian, etc."


"I also think that if were a school administrator at Bishop Seabury, I would ask you to stop publicly airing your viewpoints for fear of losing potenital students."

The answer to the first question is because of the second statement, which is a threat. I challenge evo/bio on the basis of science as defined by Popper and the principle of "Conjecture and Refutation". You respond with ad homonyms and threats to my job!

Kodiak, you are conflicted. Your statements here are as despicable as those of Cardinal Bellarmine against Galileo. Only you are not a Cardinal, and I'm no Galileo. So, you know me. Then you know my family too. On what basis do you challenge me? Personal insult (pistols at dawn)?, science (Popper at sunset)?

I know, Kodiak and Biodude, its way more fun to respond to creation folks. But,you really can't match a good "test for refutation" requirement that exists in classical physics and calssical science. So, silence the messenger. He's a heretic, plain and simple. Must be silenced. Check your soul, e-mail beings, maybe the positivism of Darwin is really just a replacement for creation. Both to be questioned by rational beings.


It is called science, old man. Check your faith at the door!

devobrun 12 years ago

"Where do you draw the line? How do you know that what you encourage the students to do doesn't close their minds off to further possibilities?"

It is simple: Belief in something is more of a rejection of the alternatives than it is a positive affirmation of the belief. Thus, believe in nothing, unless you must.

Creation/evolution are mythologies, fairy tales. Believe in either or both if you must.

How 'bout neither?

Kodiac 12 years ago


"Knowledge speaks, widsom listens" - Jimi Hendrix

Oh come on David. Threats to your homoniem attacks....Woe is me. I am a martyr, everyone is attacking me...I am the only rational person here...etc.

I have to say David at least you are entertaining. I am not sure how I am a threat to your job since I basically am a nobody and I have nothing to do with Bishop Seabury. I was merely expressing my opinion which I seriously doubt will have much impact with Bishop Seabury. I think you might want to ease up on those insecure feelings a little David.

Kodiac 12 years ago

Hey Devo:

I have been doing a little reading on Popper and I think you are dead wrong about Popper's ideas and how they apply to evolution and biology in general. Popper would also disagree with how you are trying to apply his theories to evolution and biology. Popper would recognize evolution as a valid scientific theory based on his contention that it can be falsified using rigorous testing. He also contended that even if you could find a single or set of observations that appear to falsify a theory, the theory still has validity and may still represent the best possible explanation. You have failed to show us how evolution or biology itself is not science. Also quoting the opinions of other people to demonstrate or show something as a myth is not going to cut it devo.

I found this on a website which I thought you might be interested in:

Popper's final position is that he acknowledges that it is impossible to discriminate science from non-science on the basis of the falsifiability of the scientific statements alone; he recognizes that scientific theories are predictive, and consequently prohibitive, only when taken in conjunction with auxiliary hypotheses, and he also recognizes that readjustment or modification of the latter is an integral part of scientific practice. Hence his final concern is to outline conditions which indicate when such modification is genuinely scientific, and when it is merely ad hoc. This is itself clearly a major alteration in his position, and arguably represents a substantial climb down on his part: Marxism can no longer be dismissed as 'unscientific' simply because its advocates preserved the theory from falsification by modifying it (for in general terms, such a procedure, it now transpires, is perfectly respectable scientific practice). It is now condemned as unscientific by Popper because the only rationale for the modifications which were made to the original theory was to ensure that it evaded falsification, and so such modifications were ad hoc, rather than scientific. This contention - though not at all implausible - has, to hostile eyes, a somewhat contrived air about it, and is unlikely to worry the convinced Marxist. On the other hand, the shift in Popper's own basic position is taken by some critics as an indicator that falsificationism, for all its apparent merits, fares no better in the final analysis than verificationism.

Your Buddy Kodiac

Godot 12 years ago


My observation of the the BOE standards is that they require one paragraph be added to science texts that states that there are some questions about the theory of evolution. Period.

Evolutionists have gone to great lengths to portray this statement as evidence of the abject ignorance and depravity of conservative Kansans.

I think this is a step toward encouraging the development of rational skepticism in Kansan students.

Asking questions is not "showing disrepect toward people who know more than you do." It is learning, that may lead to progress.

Kodiac 12 years ago


If you actually look at the so-called one paragraph (which is actually an outline of a number of statements) you will find clear evidence of creationist terminology such as irreducible complexity and statements that are essentially biblical claims such as there was a sudden appearance of life on earth. These are not statements that encourage students to develop rational skepticism. They are statements put it by creationist/ID supporters with a clear agenda. The "paragraph" has been peer reviewed by national scientific organizations who have described these statements as being confusing and containing false information. When you have politicians and religious leaders trying to rewrite the definition of science, you are suppressing learning and not encouraging rational skepticism.

Godot 12 years ago

So, the scientific organizations are not political? I have been around the scientific publishing world. LOL!!!!!!

Kodiac 12 years ago


Ah I see, we have a conspiracy here among the scientists. So are you saying that they are manipulating information based on false data because of their politics? I see that you avoided talking about the criticisms given on the actual "paragraph" that the BOE is trying to include. Do you truly want to have rational skepticism where everything is questioned (the status quo in science). You need to explain to us how irreducible complexity develops rational skepticism. What it essentially says Godot is that there is nothing more to be learned here. You can't test the supernatural, there is no progress here. There is nothing predictive about it and there is no value in it.

Your statement that science is political is irrelevant to this discussion. Politics do not determine what science is. Scientists that do try to manipulate data because of their politics and or religion, get exposed and lose all of their credibility.

LarryFarma 12 years ago

The LJW article said --

Case said it was probably true that it is scientists who have failed in the public relations battle.

"The Discovery Institute (which backs intelligent design) has hired a marketing firm. There isn't an equivalent for science," Case said.

That's ridiculous -- portraying evolutionist scientists as the underdog. The evolutionist scientists control the big scientific organizations, the science-education organizations, the university science departments, and the peer-reviewed scientific journals. They also have the ACLU and other church-state separation organizations behind them. The intelligent design movement is the real underdog.

Kodiac 12 years ago

Hey Larry,

Just wondering where you came up with the underdog label. Since ID is not science (see Dover decision), there is no "underdog" here. It is science vs not science.

Jablonski007 12 years ago

Or is it more like dodos vs. non-dodos?

LarryFarma 12 years ago

Posted by Kodiac on January 9, 2006 at 12:34 p.m.

Hey Larry,

**Just wondering where you came up with the underdog label. Since ID is not science (see Dover decision), there is no "underdog" here. It is science vs not science.**

I didn't come up with the "underdog" label. The filmmaker did.

As for the Dover decision, that is just one man's opinion --- and not a very smart man at that.

Kodiac 12 years ago

Well Larry,

It sounds like you would have ruled differently based on the evidence given at the trial. Seriously, have you read the transcripts from the trial? Would you have ruled differently had you been sitting there listening to Michael Behe talk about how astrology should be taught in the science classroom? How about the obvious religious agenda that was exposed during the trial.

As far as the judge not being a very smart man, I guess that would mean that you think that all scientists in evolutionary biology and the scientific community are not very smart men and women.

LarryFarma 12 years ago

Posted by Kodiac on January 10, 2006 at 9:27 a.m.

*Well Larry, It sounds like you would have ruled differently based on the evidence given at the trial. Seriously, have you read the transcripts from the trial? Would you have ruled differently had you been sitting there listening to Michael Behe talk about how astrology should be taught in the science classroom?**

Well, the judge should have just figured that Behe was some kind of crackpot and ignored him. The judge did not need to rule on the scientific merits of ID, anyway.

*** How about the obvious religious agenda that was exposed during the trial.***

That was a problem. Actually, the judge could have ruled that the whole case was moot because all the defendants except one (Geesey) were no longer on the school board.

**As far as the judge not being a very smart man, I guess that would mean that you think that all scientists in evolutionary biology and the scientific community are not very smart men and women.***

Those scientists are entitled to their opinions. The judge is entitled to his opinion too, but I feel that he should not impose his opinions about ID on others unless he has to -- and he did not in this case.

fossilhunter 12 years ago

Larry - I think you missed the point of the entire trial. The teaching of ID in class was going to happen, regardless of who was on the current board. The change to the curriculum has already been made. The suit was filed that ID was not science, but was instead religious belief being taught as science. Therefore the judge HAD to decide if ID was science. He listened to the main proponents of ID, including Behe, since they were the main voices of "Of Pandas and People" which was the book that was to be taught to the students.

LarryFarma 12 years ago

Posted by fossilhunter on January 10, 2006 at 12:21 p.m.

*Therefore the judge HAD to decide if ID was science. **

No, he did not. He could have decided the case solely on the grounds of the religious motivations of the school board members. Deciding a case on the narrowest grounds possible is called "judicial minimalism." The US Supreme Court practices judicial minimalism all the time. Actually, true judicial minimalism in the Dover case would have been to throw out the case as moot because all the defendants except one (Geesey) were no longer on the school board and the new school board members had pledged to repeal the ID rule. Yes, a lot of time and money had already been spent on the case, but so what? The courts have repeatedly shown that they are generally not concerned about that.

The principle of judicial minimalism is comparable to the idea that the World Series can end as soon as one team has won four games. It is also comparable to the idea that a baseball player who has hit the ball need only be put out in one way -- fly-out, force-out, or tag-out -- and not two or three ways (CJ "Ump" Roberts just loves baseball analogies). Of course, sometimes none of the grounds for deciding a case is solid, and then it is certainly always proper for the judge's official opinion to consider all possible grounds for deciding the case.

The expert witnesses should have been scheduled to testify last --- they were not. If the expert witnesses had been scheduled to testify last, then the judge could have simply said before their testimony, "I've heard enough -- there is no need for the expert witnesses to testify," and greatly shortened the trial. Of course, this would have tipped his hand as to what his decision was going to be, but by that point it was obvious that the defendants were going to lose the case because of their blatant religious motivations.

Kodiac 12 years ago


I am not a legal expert so I am definitely expressing an opinion here. After reading your analysis, it appears to me you are trying to oversimplify a fairly complex legal issue/decision. The defense was trying to say that ID had nothing to do with religion and that the defendents were not motivated by religion. The opposing attorneys were not only trying to show the religion motivations but also that ID was not science. To say that the trial was only about religious motivations is grossly simplified because the case was about whether or not ID was a science that could be presented in the science classroom. So I agree with fossilhunter.

fossilhunter 12 years ago

Larry - I can't believe I am going to say this... I agree with you. :-)

devobrun 12 years ago

Kodiac, If you read about Popper, you'll find lots of interpretations. Popper is heavy philosophy and the subject of much discussion. He worked for almost the entire 20th century on these theories and has been challenged many times. Yes, even he challenged his own beliefs and changed them. Admirable, but sometimes linguini-spined.

The loss of backbone is best shown in his dealings with evolution. In the 1940's, he found the conjectures of macro-evolution to be non-scientific. By the 1970's he had softened his assertion on the rigors of testability. He succumbed to early forms of political correctness. This is, of course, my opinion.

Popper wrote a lot of stuff. I haven't read all of it. I'd have to be a full-time Popper scholar to do it justice. I have found that his book "Conjectures and Refutations (The Growth of Scientific Knowledge)" is a good compilation.

As he states in the preface "this book is composed 'of' variations upon one very simple theme---the thesis that we can learn from our mistakes. It is a theory of reason that assigns to rational arguments the modest and yet important role of criticizing our often mistaken attempts to solve our problems. And it is a theory of experience that assigns to our observations the equally modest and almost equally important role of tests which may help us in the discovery of our mistakes. Though it stresses our fallibility it does not resign itself to scepticism, for it also stresses the fact that knowledge can grow, and that science can progress--just because we can learn from our mistakes."

devobrun 12 years ago

You assert "Popper would recognize evolution as a valid scientific theory based on his contention that it can be falsified using rigorous testing."

So, I give you: "Jan. 4, 2006 - Two new studies find that women may be genetically predisposed to cheating on their partners. One study published today by the University of California, Los Angeles Center on Behavior, Culture, and Evolution and the University of New Mexico says women have evolved to cheat on their mates during the most fertile part of their cycle, but only when those mates are less sexually attractive than other men. The study in the Journal of Hormones and Behavior examined 38 coeds." ==================================== And in Evolution and Human Behavior: "We're claiming the desire to cheat is what evolved in women, that they may notice they have these desires at a certain point in their cycle," said Elizabeth Pillsworth, co-author of the study and an assistant professor of communication and psychology at UCLA. "Whether they translate into unfaithful behaviors is a matter of their own choosing. " =================================== First, stop laughing. Second, how is the "the desire to cheat is what evolved in women" part of the above assertion testable? Note, I'm laughing at the assertion of women cheating. But, I'm calling the use of evolution here to be quite unscientific. Yet, the use of "evolution" in lousy science is ubiquitous. If somebody sees something in a bunch of spreadsheet data, then it evolved to be that way. ====================================== Invoking the term "evolution" helps legitimize the otherwise shaky assertions of quasi-scientists. If this were an isolated case, no problem. You gotta know it isn't, Kodiac. Sorry, K-man, I think Popper would be laughin' along with me right now. Liquid chicken on yer face? Or did it evolve that way?

Kodiac 12 years ago

Sorry Devo/David

Your above analysis of Popper is contradictory and clearly an opinion not based on any logical or factual arguments. Popper acknowledged that he made mistakes and was wrong about some of his original ideas or theories when presented with evidence and or logical arguments against them. To say that he was being "spineless" and then not follow up with reasons for where or why you feel this way says absolutely nothing and is worthless as a constructive analysis. Your statements are empty and have no basis Devo.

I find it amusing that you are trying to point at the use of the word evolution in a specific study or paper and apply it to the entire field of evolutionary biology and biology in general. Kind of like saying physics is not a science because they use the term of physics in metaphysics. Saying that human behavioral studies in evolution represent all of evolutionary biology is idiotic.

You seem to be alone and ignorant in your assessment of evolutionary biology and biology since those fields represent major research areas in science and are clearly percieved as being scientific by the rest of the world.

So Devo/David Brunfeldt I suggest you stick with teaching physics at Bishop Seabury and keep your unprofessional unsubstanciated personal vendetta on evolutionary biology and biology to yourself since you have no idea of what you are talking about.

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