Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Great summary article on the Dover case...

Thanks to Larry Lord, a voice of reason over at Evangelical Outpost (see the comments!), for bringing this article in the Skeptic to my attention.

Here's a snippet, where Michael Behe is torn apart on the stand:

It was clear that the defense had their work cut out for them to undercut this powerful testimony. It was also clear, as the defense began presenting its experts, how much the withdrawal of Dembski, Meyer, and Campbell had hurt the TMLC’s ability to mount a strong defense. They began with Michael Behe, a biochemist from Lehigh University and the author of Darwin’s Black Box. His testimony would continue for the better part of three days as the defense tried to establish the scientific credibility of ID. Unfortunately for the defense, it would also provide fertile ground for the plaintiffs to undermine that credibility.

On the stand, Behe tried to establish that his book had been subjected to peer review, one of the bedrock processes of vetting the credibility of scientific writings. He testified that his book had undergone even more thorough review than a normal journal article would have because of the controversial nature of the subject. He specifically named Dr. Michael Atchison of the University of Pennsylvania as one of the book’s reviewers. But NCSE’s Matzke remembered an article written by Atchison in which he stated that he had not reviewed the book at all but had only held a ten minute phone conversation with the book’s editor over the general content. When the plaintiffs’ attorney introduced this article during cross-examination, it was clearly a blow to Behe’s claim that his book had “received much more scrutiny and much more review before publication than the great majority of scientific journal articles.”

The cross examination of Behe also undermined the credibility of his testimony in several other ways. One of Behe’s central claims has been that there is no serious scientific work or progress on how complex biochemical systems like the flagellum, the blood-clotting cascade, and the immune system could have evolved, and he testified as much. Plaintiffs’ attorneys, in a Perry Mason-like flourish, pointedly dropped dozens of peer-reviewed books and journal articles about the evolution of such systems in front of him; Behe admitted that he had read virtually none of them. They also questioned him about a paper he had written in 2004, widely regarded by creationists as a peer-reviewed pro-ID paper. That cross examination established that, despite the fact that he and his co-author had essentially rigged the parameters of the simulation to make evolution as unlikely as possible, biochemical systems requiring multiple unselected mutations — the very type of system he claims could not have evolved in a stepwise fashion — could evolve in a relatively short period of time.

The article points out the idiocy of the Dover school board by their explicitly religious intentions, and the Pandas and People mad-libs of "creationism" and "intelligent" "design."

I think it's obvious now why Dembski et al. reputedly wanted their lawyers present at their depositions. If Dembski had been on record at all on this, it would have been the end of the line for his faux information theoretic gravy train.

So he likely needed a way of obscuring things.

And so it continues now. Clearly Dembski's cryptic comments are likely related to the fact that he could actually be deposed in a future case. Heck, I'd have called him as a plaintiff's witness. So Dembski's smart enough by now to realize that the "lesson of Dover" is don't put your creationist agenda on record.

Thing is, if you don't put your creationist agenda on record, nobody's going to believe you're a "real" creationist, so you have to put something out there.

And Dembski's already got enough out there to sink him, in my opinion; as the article points out Dembski's reported to have said“Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.”

That not only lets the cat out of the bag in a religious sense, but also in showing that "Intelligent" "Design" is not a science; any information theorist knows that real information theory doesn't have squat to do with metaphysics.

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