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November 15, 2007

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F

You may (or may not) want to take a look at the Creation Museum post that John Scalzi did:

http://scalzi.com/whatever/?p=121

He raised a whole bunch of money (donated to a group defending separation of church and state) to go to this place and submit a report. The Flickr slideshow is awesome and full of snark.

kris darcy

Kris --

Ethan and I watched that program, too, and I was amazed that in many ways religious nuts feel a new rendition of the Scopes trial might provide them with a more favorable judgment. I had lost track of former Oakland County Prosecutor Thompson since he lost the confidence of the electorate for failing to convict Dr. Kevorkian, inter alia, so it was good to see that he has settled down with like-minded people at the St. Thomas Moore Center, which seems to have been a seminal point in the conflict by suggesting the "science textbook" at issue to the school board.

Having spent a good deal of my time in school studying science, medicine, and law, a couple things really struck me about the program. The first is the fact that the Defendants had one of the most wingnut sympathetic, Bush-II appointed jurists sitting on the federal bench these days -- probably because the sheer power of their prayer affected the "blind draw" system of assigning cases to judges:). Yet, their misrepresentations in trial were sufficiently egregious to earn his ire and even worse for them, his skepticism. Apparently, while the very existence of the Defendants was intelligently designed, their litigation strategy was developed by a team of scientists and lawyers who are dumber than nine chickens.

Second, it seemed to me that this matter made it to trial rather than being decided by dispositive motions (i.e., no actual testimony needed because the case can be decided simply based on legal arguments backed up with affidavits and the like, considering the case of the non-moving party in a most favorable light) in large part because most law schools have de minimis science education requirements for admission. Lawyers, though usually folks of at least average intelligence, tend to have very poor science educations, for whatever reason, so it becomes pretty easy to deceive legal professionals with what I call silly semantic arguments such as "they (ID and evolution) are both mere theories, whereas the absence of genetic diversity in a structure as divine as the bacterial flagellum is an undisputed fact so obviously ID is at least a viable scientific theory...". Of course, the argot of science flip-flops the degree of epistemic certainty these terms connote in our every day speech, and much of the school board's case rested on such semantic distinctions.

Thanks for your discussion of this program on the blog; it was simply first rate in distinguishing science from the calumniation those at the St. Thomas Center (and related Ave Maria University) call ID theory. So, I'm not writing to add anything as much as to say hello and Happy Thanksgiving. I also wanted to tell you I beseeched your son to help remedy this exiguous scientific proficiency of the bar by finishing his degree and then attending law school. Maybe I sparked something because the idea of discrediting wingnut theists in public seemed to appeal to him - can't imagine why:).

BTW, isn't your second eye surgery coming up soon? I hope all is well with the post-op eye. Those lens implants are so clever that they must have been....well, created by an intelligent designer:).

Be well.

Mike Segesta

Kris

F, I did read that post on the trip to the Creationism Museum (or whatever it's called)--PZ Myers had linked to it. What a hoot! I didn't see the slideshow, though, so maybe I'll check that out.

Mike, thanks for the good wishes, and here's hoping you have a lovely holiday too. My other eye will be done the Monday after Thanksgiving if all goes according to schedule. No trouble at all post-op--just looking forward to being done with all the eyedrops etc.!

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