Science is not a Courtroom

by Kieran Healy on May 7, 2005

PZ Myers has a “useful roundup”: of the current round of “hearings” on evolution “that are going on”: in Topkea, Kansas. He also points to “Red State Rabble”:, where you’ll find on-the-spot reports. The usual Creationist/ID guff is in full flower. The funniest sideshow is the appearance (at local taxpayer’s expense) of Mustafa Akyol, “an Islamic ID proponent from Turkey”: and all-round scheming pain in the neck. As a sociologist, these fights for footing in the public sphere and for control over things like the school curriculum are interesting for all kinds of reasons — knowledge, power, rationality, all that stuff. But personally I just find them depressing. The most annoying thing about the whole clown show is the legalistic format chosen for the “hearings,” with cross-examination of “witnesses” and other pseudo-courtroom theatrics. Such rubbish. It just feeds the he-said/she-said storytelling format that lazy reporters like best, never mind the legal profession’s tendency to believe that their adversarial methods are the best way to come to the right conclusions about any given question. Lawyers have a lot to answer for.



anciano 05.07.05 at 2:20 pm

Adversary proceedings and debates can help to get at the truth, but they require intelligent controls and open-minded juries or evaluators. None of that holds in Kansas. More particularly, American exceptionalism told us after World War II that “The State Department lost China” and “Traitors gave Russia the bomb”. People like Klaus Fuchs did help the USSR develop the bomb more quickly, but the USSR was capable of doing this alone. The idea that shrewd Americans could have “saved China from the Reds” is nonsense, little different than the almost universal belief in 1932 Germany that the Jews were responsible for German defeat in WWI and for the harsh treaty of Versailles. It led people like Edward Lansdale to think that advertising and political manipulation was the answer to Communism. Lansdale swung US support to Ngo Dinh Diem in 1955 Vietnam, whose cruel and oppressive regime set the stage for the Vietnam debacle.

Like those 1932 Germans, Americans seek scapegoats. This isn’t confined to the religious right, contributors to Kos are just as culpable. A sector of simplistic Christians, obsessed with sex and women’s roles, sees a need to take a stand, to roll back “secular humanism”. The pitiful thing that most Americans who are not Republican fanatics are at least somewhat religious, but can’t form a coherent opposition party. It is assumed by the media and even by Bush-haters that “all people of faith” suspect evolution and want “righteous judges”. Americans are unwilling to raise taxes for schools and pensions. We seek a fuehrer who will provide these things on the cheap- “lower taxes, better services” while waving the flag of national glory.

American schools and science are in trouble. Lawyers encourage parents to sue schools and teachers. Creationists prime students to aggressively question evolution on religious grounds. Teachers should of course be able to defend everything that they teach. The best science teachers will do well. But what about those below the median, those who are just filling in? Evolution is the center of the life sciences.
Neither students nor parents harass science teachers in China, India and Japan. That’s why the world center of science and wealth will shift ever more rapidly across the Pacific. It’s ironic that religion supports this hobbling of America. There’s more to education than science, and more to intolerance than religion, but the Christian sense of victimization is reviving bleeding Kansas. Would a majority of Italians have voted to support Galileo when he was hauled before the inquisition in 1632? Would a majority of Americans support evolution, even if discloses painful truths?


des von bladet 05.07.05 at 2:41 pm

[N]ever mind the legal profession’s tendency to believe that their adversarial methods are the best way to come to the right conclusions about any given question.

ID is itself a lawyerising of creationisme, of course.

My best hope is that the world survives the FDRUSA’s slide into anti-rationalisme, but that said FDR’s technological supremacy doesn’t–this depends crucially on stemming the flood of influx of technocrats from abroad, but sometimes that does after all seem to be on the cards.

(Anyone wondering why I hate America is cordially invited to contemplate Ted’s bingo card a few posts down.)


RSL 05.07.05 at 2:46 pm

I sort of hope the creationists win in Kansas. I’m beginning to enjoy watching these people slide so willfully into idiocy.

Someday, we blue states are just going to have to secede and let the red states rot all by themselves.


jacob 05.07.05 at 3:20 pm

I wonder if you (Kieran or others) have any sociological literature you can recommend about the way lawyers have constructed adversarial proceedings as the best way of discovering truth, and how they’ve so successfully spread this idea in popular epistomology.


Juke Moran 05.07.05 at 3:26 pm

Nothing improves the self-image like standing next to an inferior other.
So we have these anti-evolutionary fundamentalists mucking things up. And we have these anti-gay fundamentalists mucking things up too, and they’re pretty much the same guys except…isn’t competitively cutting other members out of the group, isn’t that evolution in action? So aren’t the bigots practicing evolutionists?
Is evolution about everybody having a right to exist just because they got born?
Well no, it’s precisely the opposite – you have a right to keep what you can keep, by any strategy available, but only that, including your life, and only for as long as you can keep it. Isn’t that how we got our immune systems? Our social cohesion, our brains – by some of us dying while the rest went on?
So okay I get it, social morality is like an immune system, right? It’s a thwarting of the raw evolutionary struggle at an individual level. In that sense it’s anti-evolutionary, no? Sort of? Helping each other, defeating the evolutionary process.
So, evolution exists, evolution is how we got here, but we don’t like it anymore. Is that it?
So I guess I get to choose between delusional fantasists, pseudo-pragmatic semi-realists, and grasping opportunists who want to use the accumulated privilege of a couple millennia of non-evolutionary social protection to turn the man-made and man-controlled environment back into an arena of evolutionary struggle, in which they begin the race two miles ahead of the rest of the pack. Social Darwinism in other words, reinstituted after generations of denial and social non-Darwinism.
So there’s the choices:
No evolution. Yes evolution, but not right now. And – evolution now, baby!
Each of those is a survival strategy, none of them are “right” or “wrong”. They lead to different ends, and the beneficiaries at each end are their natural proponents.
Does that explain some of the reluctance of the dim and less-favored to embrace the Darwinian struggle? I think it does, I think it explains it very neatly.


Daniel 05.07.05 at 4:12 pm

If the belief that adversarial methods are the best way to come to the right conclusion is the source of the trouble, I think it’s your man Socrates you would be wanting a word with.


Kieran Healy 05.07.05 at 5:04 pm

Except that while lawyers love the idea of the socratic method, they usually avoid learning how it’s used by your actual philosophers.


Seth Finkelstein 05.07.05 at 5:12 pm

My amateur sociological take:

Law is fundamentally about resolving conflicts between members of the society. In this case, each faction is “right” in their own minds, and even in a *global* sense, as the society is itself made up of factions.

Science is about external reality (yes, I know, there’s a philosophy seminar in that sentence). No matter how many fools may believe something is right, it can still be wrong. The processes are about trying to remove factional interest from examination of that external reality.

The creationists in effect want science to be defined as a “political” issue, where ID vs. Darwin is taken to be like Republican vs. Democrat, not Stupid vs. Smart.


Bubb Rubb 05.07.05 at 5:49 pm

As a present law student, I can say that the adversarial process is not the problem here, Law and Order is. These legal shows are such a poor portrayal of the actual legal process in many cases that everyone thinks they are a lawyer or knows enough about law to play one on TV. If this was a “real” trial, there would be at minimum, discovery, procedural hearings, evidentiary hearings, etc.

For anyone that watched the Schaivo debacle unfold, the actual legal process as it unfolds creates much different results than the what the pseudo-made-for-tv legal “experts” would otherwise claim.

This is not a “trial” in the legal sense. It is a “trial” in the O’Reilly sense. The distinction should always be made and I have no reservations that the process set up in Kansas has been created specifically to create the latter outcome.


Tulkinghorn 05.07.05 at 7:02 pm

lawyers are trained in law school using the “socratic method”, which is used to reveal the assumptions behind logical propositions. It has little to do with the practice of law, especially arguing in court.

You can’t use court proceedings to determine whether a scitentific principal is credible, because a court proceeding must limit itself to the issues and facts in controversy.

The closest thing to what they are doing in Kansas is known as a “Daubert” hearing in Federal Court, where an expert witness is vetted to see if his/her expertise is within the mainstream, credible part of their profession. I.e., is Joe Expert properly credentialed, experienced in the correct field and training, published in peer reviewed journals, etc? In short, is his the testimony Joe Expert offers junk science?

Under the law following Daubert, Intelligent Design would never be admissible in to a court of law as a theory to explain anything.


Rob Rickner 05.07.05 at 7:33 pm

Adversarial confrontation has two purposes, neither of which apply in this case.

1) Adversarial confrontation is an excellent way to extract some portion of the factual truth from a witness. Cross-examination is a wonderful way of showing biases, mistakes, and assumptions.

2) Adversarial hearings are a proceedural technique of protecting the individual from the state. Even in civil cases, having a lawyer with only your undivided interests to advocate reduces the chances of injustice to the individual.

The “hearings” in Kansas do not require an adversarial confrontation to address either concern. There is no factual dispute here that can be illuminated with cross-examination. Also, no individual’s rights are being threatened by the state in any legally relevant way. There is no recognized “right” to have ID in the classroom.

Adversarial hearings are a lousy way of deciding policy. More than one person has noted that taking diametrically opposed viewpoints, in an argument, actually makes both sides more entrenched in their views – hardly the way to find a neutral middle-ground.

Much policy in the US is decided using the methods mandated by the Administrative Proceedure Act. Changes in regulatory policy are submitted to the public for comments, which then (theoretically) are taken into consideration. It actually resembles peer-review, in some ways.

Although lawyers do have a lot to answer for, this particular problem isn’t it.

Rob (Law Student)


Steve J. 05.07.05 at 8:02 pm

ANCIANO:”Would a majority of Americans support evolution”

Nope, only about 33% do.


nolo 05.07.05 at 8:04 pm

Lawyers aren’t to blame for this crap going on in Kansas. And it would be nice if people who want to haul off after lawyers would actually get an understanding of the adversary system first. There’s a lot I could go on about, but I take particular umbrage at the proposition that lawyers encourage people to sue school systems. There are agenda-driven groups that have lawyers who may be fishing for plaintiffs, and I am aware of that. But as a bread-and-butter lawyer, I have to say that I spend a lot more time telling people that they *don’t* have cases than I do trying to gig them into lawsuits. If you think us lawyers are out there trying to invent clients and lure them into bringing lawsuits, you (a) don’t understand the ethical rules governing my profession and (b)don’t understand the economics of my profession either.

Oh, and since I got my philosophy degree before I got my J.D., I think I’m allowed to say that I probably have a handle on the socratic method.



des von bladet 05.07.05 at 8:38 pm

Oh, and since I got my philosophy degree before I got my J.D., I think I’m allowed to say that I probably have a handle on the socratic method.

As the poet said: In a pig’s arse, friend. If you think this is a sequitur, you’ve been lawyering too long.


Tim 05.07.05 at 9:16 pm

Uh, which lawyers are you referring to, Kieran? Common law system lawyers? They represent only a small minority of legal systems globally.


Kieran Healy 05.07.05 at 10:23 pm

No, I’m thinking of the guys in shiny suits who think they’re Matlock or the guy in _Law and Order_.


Kieran Healy 05.07.05 at 10:24 pm

If you think us lawyers are out there trying to invent clients and lure them into bringing lawsuits

That’s not what I said. I was objecting to the whole business of conducting the proceedings as if it were a trial. It’s not actually a trial. The people involved just want to make it look like one.


lakelobos 05.07.05 at 11:38 pm

Socrates and the Talmud


Finn 05.08.05 at 12:00 am

Ummm…having just read the posts from red state rabble its seems like a good thing for science and reason that the Board chose to use a quasi-trial proceeding. If they had just chosen to have an ordinary legislative hearing it seems pretty likely that these pseudo-scientists would not have had their feet held to the fire nearly as effectively. I mean what the Kansas Board is doing is pure political theater and they chose the appearance of an adversarial proceeding for maximum political effect. Perhaps they thought it would lend their predetermined conclusions greater credibility. Who knows. But they seem to have blundered because the attorney for the, cringe, scientific coalition is making mincemeat of the pseudo-scientists. I agree that adversarial proceedings are not always the best way to determine facts, and that lawyers can be annoying and self-satisfied, but this seems like a situation in which an adversarial proceeding has exposed hypocrisy and idiocy that could have remained hidden if the hearings had been otherwise structured.


Joe 05.08.05 at 1:54 am

“The most annoying thing about the whole clown show is the legalistic format chosen for the “hearings,” with cross-examination of “witnesses” and other pseudo-courtroom theatrics.”

So, the Kansas legislature chose a particular style for these hearings and magically lawyer’s are at fault for the particular style of hearing that the Kansas legislature chose.

Devoid of any explanation at all of cause and effect, but interesting.


bi 05.08.05 at 4:35 am

Well, if this were a court case, then consider…

“But Your Honour, the fact is that my client never murdered anyone. In fact, he has clearly stated that on the night just before Mr. Victim’s death, he was visited by a horde of invisible aliens in his dream who told him that they had murdered Mr. Victim and framed him by planting all sorts of . And even right now, our plaintiffs have not been able to produce a single shred of evidence to disprove this claim. Clearly, Your Honour, my client has been framed.”


abb1 05.08.05 at 5:25 am

ANCIANO:”Would a majority of Americans support evolution”

Nope, only about 33% do.

According to the CBS News/New York Times Poll Nov. 18-21 2004. (,

only 13% believe in evolution sans god.

27% believe in God-guided evolution (I’d like to have them describe specifics of that process).

66% of the Republicans (and 51% of the rest) believe that ‘God created human beings in their present form’.


paperwight 05.08.05 at 11:56 am

[N]ever mind the legal profession’s tendency to believe that their adversarial methods are the best way to come to the right conclusions about any given question. Lawyers have a lot to answer for.

As a practicing (US) attorney, I gotta call bullshit on this assertion. The vast majority of lawyers, even in the US, are transactional attorneys, helping people draft documents to prevent the adversarial method from being used, precisely because it’s unpredictable, costly, painful and generally sucks rocks for most applications.

There are a number of limited applications (identified upthread) for which it makes sense, but even then, I know very few practicing litigators (criminal or civil) who think it’s ultimately a good way to either determine a truth about the world or resolve a dispute. In fact, I’ve heard the phrase “crap shoot” used more often to describe the adversarial process than any other.


roger 05.08.05 at 12:22 pm

Some follow up on the evolution question might be nice. For instance, of those polled, how many believe messenger RNA is a branch of the UPS? I’m wondering what the poll numbers are saying about string theory too. Surely the question should be posed about whether Fred Hoyle or Alan Guth is to be believed about the origin of the universe. Also, what opinion does the great American public have on the Dirac equation. They really should ask these questions, since we are getting expert opinion about science from the American man in the street, who has made profound studies in all of these areas, and democracy requires that science follow majority opinion. Myself, I think we could dispense with a lot of the fancy pants business and make this a lot more fun by having science textbooks written, American idol style, with a televised audience voting on what to put in and what to leave out. But don’t put that Paula Abdul in the judge’s seat — soon she’ll be sneaking around with some stray, deluded evolutionist, coaching him on all the right answers!
The twenty first century belongs to the good old U.S.A!


bi 05.08.05 at 1:03 pm

_… how many believe messenger RNA is a branch of the UPS?_

UPS s3z: No, our employee records don’t show any messenger RNA.

Conspiracy Theorist s3z: Ah! Of course! UPS is doctoring its employee records so that it shows no evidence of messenger RNA! But the fact is, they’re employing messenger RNA to take over all humans and rule the world!

UPS zealot s3z: What have you got against UPS, you fascist Islamic pinko?

Skeptic s3z: Conspiracy theories are unfalsifiable.

Reporter s3z: Hm, everyone says his own thing. The jury’s still out.

… … … …

Gah, maybe it’s not the lawyers’ fault that people are using this “adversarial process”. As someone from outside the US, I personally think that the whole problem stems much deeper than that: it comes from the very fetishizing of “free speech” as the One True Method To Solve All The Problems In The World.


John Quiggin 05.08.05 at 6:43 pm

One thing that puzzled me a bit was that most of the ID types accepted a 4.5 billion year age for the earth, and I assume this means broad acceptance of the standard fossil chronology – dinosaurs dying out 65 million years ago and so forth.

Are they claiming species-by-species special creation throughout this period and if not, what are they claiming?


John Biles 05.08.05 at 6:55 pm

Juke Moran said:

Well no, it’s precisely the opposite – you have a right to keep what you can keep, by any strategy available, but only that, including your life, and only for as long as you can keep it. Isn’t that how we got our immune systems? Our social cohesion, our brains – by some of us dying while the rest went on?

I reply:

Evolution is a lousy problem solving method; nature uses it not because it’s a good thing, but simply because it’s the way things work, absent sufficient intelligence to short-circuit the process and move on to something better.

The human body is a disaster area of parts which work poorly and coordinate poorly, because it is the result of huge piles of random chance. If humanity could be redesigned from scratch, we could make ourselves infinitely better.

Cooperation is anti-evolutionary; you have that right. But there’s better ways to ensure one’s survival than relying on blind evolution. A pack of weakling humans, using their brains to invent technology, can bring down animals dozens of times the size of the human and ones which are much better suited by evolution to survive in their environment than the humans are.

The era of physical evolution is over. In the arena of social evolution, it’s the societies which find ways to cooperate in the face of human selfishness and competitive instincts which overcome those who don’t. The very network we’re using to have this conversation is a sign of the power of cooperation.


Steve LaBonne 05.08.05 at 7:53 pm

if not, what are they claiming?

Good luck trying to figure that out. These people have raised evasiveness to a new art form. (I also wouldn’t necessarily recommend taking at face value the IDistas’ claims to accept the old earth; when they can’t evade their way around a Constitutional sandtrap they simply lie.)


rea 05.08.05 at 7:54 pm

“I’ve heard the phrase “crap shoot” used more often to describe the adversarial process than any other.”

Exactly. As the system works in practice, the “adversary” part is largely used as a threat to bludgeon people into settling.

“Justice” isn’t what the adversary system is about, anyway. It’s about giving each side a fair shot to make their case–not quite the same thing . . .


mw 05.08.05 at 9:24 pm

Nope, only about 33% do.

But a significantly higher number want to avoid being laughingstocks (especially those living in a state like Kansas–which doesn’t have a sophisticated image to begin with).

A higher number, also, would not want their state to gain the reputation of being the last place a corporation would want to locate because the local school system has been hopelessly compromised.

This is what sunk the creationist effort in Kansas a few years ago–all the ‘what a bunch of hicks’ jokes.

One thing that puzzled me a bit was that most of the ID types accepted a 4.5 billion year age for the earth

Well, this is an alliance of convenience under the ‘I.D.’ umbrella. There are ‘young-earth’ creationists and ‘old earth’ creationists, and ID is intentionally agnositic about that. What they want is for evolution to be taught skeptically and the possibility of ID raised which will allow their various members to fill in the blanks in their kids heads with whatever flavor of creationism suits them.


Adam 05.08.05 at 10:20 pm

I have my last final at Washburn Law School in Topeka, KS tomorrow morning. I have been busy with finals, so I haven’t had time to go down and see the circus, but when you live in a city where you see Fred Phelps and his followers protesting on a weekly basis, it isn’t real surprising.

It would have been nice if everyone on the evolution side of this debate would have boycotted the whole thing and refused to give it any legitimacy. I know Pedro, the attorney representing the evolution side, and he is a good guy who means well (Last year he debated Fred Phelps over the proposed city ordinance that would prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation.). I am sure he doesn’t mind the publicity, but if he would have refused to do it someone else would have stepped in.

The state school board here is a perfect example of why local elections matter. The wingnuts work real hard to get their candidates elected. Once they are elected they are able to do crazy things like the current “trial.”

Here is a quote from the Lawrence paper that shows just how how much they care about the actual standards at issue.

Board members Kathy Martin, of Clay Center, and Connie Morris, of St. Francis, acknowledged they had merely scanned proposed standards retaining the state’s current policy of describing evolution as a key concept for students to learn. Martin’s acknowledgment elicited groans of disbelief from a few audience members.

“I’m not a word-for-word reader in this kind of technical information,” Martin said during a break.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Martin is from my hometown. She had lots of outside support ($$$) from wingnuts around the state, and it was just too much for the sane candidate to compete against.


John Landon 05.09.05 at 9:32 am

The onslaught of the ID movement means we now have two teams of hypesters on the case of evolution, and that’s almost better propaganda: good to drive out the middle ground and it distracts people from thinking Darwin’s theory has no problems, or that it is an adequate theory. Being able to battle Creationists/ID types is invaluable and allows everyone to play the Dawkins Bright Card: ‘Aren’t we smart, and all those silly Bible Belt idiots’.

The public is being held hostage by this subtle form of double thought control, and secularists who don’t like ID and know Darwin’s theory of natural selection is inadequate are forced to be either social outcastes, brazen liars, or bluffers, and toe a party line. It seems suspicious the only views we hear are from large-scale paradigm blocks with adequate Ad budgets and/or legitimation power.
How is it that all this scientific/academic horsepower (?) can’t manage something better than being plagued by fundamentalism? It should have been dealt with long ago, and dropping the false claims for natural selection but holding the line on evolution would make the debate more honest and take the wind out of Creationist sails.
(The answer to the riddle is given by Robert Wesson in Beyond Natural Selection is that Darwinism is another fundamentalism. There could be other explanations. Research on this mindset is needed. But first some new form of credential is required to pull rank on confused rocket scientists).
BTW: a bit of spam: new evolution blog at


C.J.Colucci 05.09.05 at 10:11 am

Let’s not blame the lawyers for this. Finn has it right: a bunch of non-lawywer morons on the school board thought this trial-like proceeding was a good idea, and a canny lawyer on the good guys’ side is making it blow up in their faces. (Not that that will stop them, but it’s better than the alternative.)
And while it’s certainly true that trial-type proceedings are no way to ascertain scientific truth (whatever we mean by that), it’s worth pointing out that once this type of nonsense gets into an actual trial with actual lawyers and a real judge, the system does a pretty good job of it. Judges may not be the people to decide what is scientific truth, but they, at least, know that, and can call bullshit when other people who have no more business than judges deciding what scietific truth is try to.


Steve LaBonne 05.09.05 at 10:15 am

Yawn, this John Landon chap is yet another half-educated amateur who thinks he knows more about evolution than professional evolutionary biologists do. It might be an interesting project for a psychologist to explore why certain fields particularly attract this sort of thing.


bi 05.09.05 at 12:26 pm

Steve LaBonne: seconded. The people who whine that The Scientists Had It Wrong All Along are often the people who haven’t actually read a single scientific paper.


raj 05.09.05 at 3:23 pm

Science is not a Courtroom

Actually, science is not that dissimilar from a court room. Science and a court room are supposed to make use of evidence. The only signficicant difference is that science doesn’t have a lay jury who are supposed to determine the veracity of one of a multitude of theories regarding this, that, or the other. And, unlike in a court case, the issue is never completely settled. The issue is always up for re-evaluation, after additional evidence is developed.

My undergraduate and (yes) graduate degrees were in an actual science (physics). Then I went on to get a couple of law degrees. When I transferred from science (physics) to law, I was rather amused to discover that the lawyers made use of similar words (for example, “theory”) whereas they used them in ways that were very different.

On the subject of the post, when the ID proposers actually present evidence for their proposal, one might sit up and listen. They never have. I hesitate to say that they never will. But unless and until they do, one might seriously question why anyone should pay attention to them.

This year, 2005, is the 100th anniversary of the four papers of Albert Einstein that changed physics. Not only did he explain things very clearly, without a lot of mathematical gobbledlygook (the math is useful for some, but I believe it tends to hide reality), but let’s see. Einstein’s insights were amazing. What was more amazing is that he proposed experiments that would tend to provide evidence (I’m using court room verbiage) to try to verify them.

Science might not be a court room. But science uses evidence, just as a court room does. The problem is that people who put forth things like ID or creationism, have never presented any evidence for their proposition. I use the word “proposition” instead of “theory” intentionally.


John Landon 05.10.05 at 3:55 pm

“Yawn, this John Landon chap is yet another half-educated amateur who thinks he knows more about evolution than professional evolutionary biologists do. It might be an interesting project for a psychologist to explore why certain fields particularly attract this sort of thing.”

Are you serious??! There are two possibilities:
1. I am half-educated. Even if so, I could use the other half to find out how easy it is to critique Darwinism by reflecting on some obvious discrepancies in the way it is presented, if I can escape the ID noise factor.
2. I am not half-educated. In that case I could take less than a week to research the complete fairytale mode in all accounts of Darwinism, its history, and the propaganda instruments used to promote it, and intimidate skeptics. The situation doesn’t add up.

Pulling rank by citing the great wisdom of evolutionary biologists is a good laugh. Half of them are so miseducated by the educational system they can’t think straight and don’t understand their own subject matter. The real researchers have to bluff. I kid you not. Take a frustrated heretic like Evelyn Fox Keller, and analyzie the in between the lines. Look at your colleagues carefully. They are either glazed over true believers, or else look for the nervous ones, who have to make tenure.

As to the psychological syndrome of the Darwin skeptic, come on. Give me a break. This isn’t the thirties in Russia.
As the Elmer Fudd said to his tormentors, ‘Make me’.


Steve LaBonne 05.10.05 at 4:29 pm

Thanks, John, for confirming that you’re an ignoramus and an idiot.


RSL 05.11.05 at 4:34 pm

John Quiggen . . . in response to your question at #26 above:

In fact, I’ve started to hear some of the ID-types begin to challenge key theories from geology and physics in addition to the theory of evolution. Their primary targets (from physics) are the big bang and (from geology) plate tectonics and the age of the earth. I think, however, that many of them are backing off making these challenges to physics and geology (in public forums at least) because they know how absurd they will look to so much of the public. Their “acceptance” of the 4.5 billion year age of the earth is therefore merely provisional—and primarily a PR move. If they ever win the evolution debate, they may be emboldened to pursue their other goals more aggressively and start dismantling physics and geology education as well.

As far as their explanations for the fossil record, I think they see the end of the dinosaurs as proof of Noah’s flood. They tend to avoid any details on the actual mechanisms of species creation (doing so tends to force them to talk about the designer, which forces them to talk about god, which blows their cover, exposing ID as just creationism repackaged by clever PR people). But who really knows . . . there’s nothing coherent about any of their arguments if you dig even an inch below the surface. I guess deep layers of fact and reason confound them as much as deep layers of sedimentary rock.

My general response to the ID types is that they should go back and re-read their beloved ten commandments (which they want to post in every schoolhouse and courtroom in America). If I remember right, one of those commandments is “thou shalt not bear false witness.” All their arguments are a pack of lies designed to hide their real agenda which, quite simply, is removing anything from the public-school curriculum that could be seen as contradicting a literal interpretation of the Bible. They know they can’t win if they’re honest about their agenda, so they just lie a lot. It’s a funny kind of Christianity they practice . . .

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