Tuesday, December 22, 2015

My Prediction Sort of Came True!

A couple of posts back, "Re-Trying Kitzmiller v Dover School Board", I wondered what the DI's next target would be in their fairy tales about Dover Trial 'Myths'.  I thought something about Judge Jones, but I didn't think the Judge would be the target for Myth #6, I figured he would be Myth #1.  I was incorrect, but not entirely in error.  Yes, Judge Jones was the target of Myth #6.  Myth #4 was about the Judge's ruling.  Myths #2 and #1 also targeted Judge Jones.  So while I didn't think Myth #6 would have been about the Judge, I was right he would be targets by #1, but rather than 1 shot in 10,  4 of the 10 total 'myths' targeted Judge Jones.  So you see, I thought they would save it all for the final Myth, delivered on Kitzmas itself (the 20th of Dec, this one being the 10th anniversary of the Dover Ruling).  But they either couldn't contain themselves or, more likely, couldn't find anything else to spin as a myth.

You know for a court ruling that they claim has had a very limited impact on the Intelligent Design Movement, they certainly had a lot to say about it, over and over again.  What I found funny as well was that one of the Vice-Presidents for the Discovery Institute, John G. West, followed all those myth posts with one of his own "The Day a Judge Tried to Kill Intelligent Design".  For some reason I am not sure John read the actual decision because it wasn't Judge Jones who put a knife into the ID Movement, but it was a combination of the Dover School Board and the testimony of ID proponents that did more damage to ID than anything the Judge did.  All the Judge did was render a legal decision  . . . one based on actual law, not what the Discovery Institute thinks the law should be.  His legal decision summarized much of what the DI proponents, like Scott Minnich and Michael Behe had to say and explained why their testimony was particular compelling.

John repeated other things said in some of the other myths.  One I wanted to spend a little time discussing, 'Ten Myths About Dover: #5, "Discovery Institute Supported Dover School Board Policy" '.  John said:

"Even though we had opposed the Dover school district policy, we were the ones who bore the brunt of the impact of Judge Jones's decision."
So did the DI oppose the Dover School District policy?  The answer isn't the simple back and white the DI would like you to think.  Their answer is no, officially they did not support the Dover School Board.  However . . .:
  1. Why did the DI feel it was necessary to submit an Amicus Curiae brief about Intelligent Design if they weren't part of it?
  2. Why did the DI's own Wedge Strategy Document describe tactics similar to those used by the School Board and even by Michael Behe's in his testimony?  The strategy also said:
    "We will also pursue possible legal assistance in response to resistance to the integration of design theory in public school science curricula. (Wedge Strategy Document, Phase III, page 7)"
  3.  Why did Seth Cooper, DI attorney, have several calls with William Buckingham (Chairman of the Dover School Board Curriculum Committee discussing the legality of teaching ID.  (Trial Transcripts)
  4. Why did the DI forward to Buckingham DVDs, videotapes, and books. (Trial Transcripts)
  5. Why did two lawyers from the DI make a legal presentation to the Board in executive session. (Trial Transcripts)
  6. Why was the DI one of only two outside organizations consulted.  (The Thomas More Law Center was the other).  Plus the consult wasn't for scientific material, but legal advice. (Trial Transcripts)
In my opinion any claim the DI has in opposing the Dover Policy is a sham.  They were in the middle of it from the beginning and any claims of 'officially' opposing the policy is more a face-saving action rather than anything substantive.  I believe they and the Thomas More Law Center were looking for a test case for teaching any form of Creationism in public school.  Here are a couple of lines form the WIkipedia page on the Thomas More Law Center that I found interesting:
"Prior to taking on this particular case [Kitzmiller v. Diver Area School District], the lawyers of the Thomas More Law Center traveled the country seeking a school board willing to withstand a lawsuit as a test case for the teaching of intelligent design in public schools, forcing the first test case for intelligent design in the courts."

"In the summer of 2004, the Dover, Pennsylvania, school board, after receiving legal advice from the Discovery Institute, accepted the center's offer of advice and possible representation, as they worked to change their science curriculum."
The Dover School Board went down the path that cost the district $1,000,000, cost several members their seat on the board, and should have put at least two of their members in jail for perjury AFTER receiving legal advice form the Discovery Institute.  Does anyone really believe they were opposed?  What do you think they would be saying if the Dover School Board had won? 

John, and the rest of the DI keeps trying to paint the Judge as the ogre.  But John went in another direction as well and even tried to put himself in the role of a self-sacrificing hero.  Does this sound a little self-serving to you?
"It was during the bleak months following Dover that I made one of the biggest decisions of my professional life. Rather than cut and run, I decided to risk everything. Convinced of the critical importance of the intelligent design debate, I gave up my tenured position as a university professor to devote my full energies to Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture, which I had co-founded with Stephen Meyer in 1996. "
To be clear John was an Associate Professor of Political Science at Seattle Pacific University (a private Christian university) where he chaired the Political Science and Geography department.  Please note he's not a biologist, but a Government major.  Maybe I should add his teaching position to another "So there's nothing religious about ID" post?  I do wonder what his salary was in his Associate Professor position, because according to the DI's 2013 Form 990 (Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax), John made $120,000.  Donations were down about 25% from 2012, but John is pulling in 6-figures. The further back I can find in 2006 and while the link to the 990 was bad, the Sensuous Curmudgeon talked about another VP Stephen C. Meyer making $112,000 that year.  So I think John's was probably in the same neighborhood, after all he and Meyer co-founded the Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science & Culture.

The DI keeps trying to minimize any impact of the Dover Trial and yet in his post John wants everyone to feel sorry for the DI because while claiming not to have been a party to the trial, claims to have born the brunt of the decision.  So which is it, was any impact minimal or was the impact serious?  I know what I think, but to date the DI wants everyone to believe the trial had little impact?  Which is it?

I will repeat something I said in a recent post:
" . . . How many public schools have ID on the science curriculum on par with Evolution?  They tried in many places and so far, haven't been very successful.  How many of their 5-year goals have they achieved?  How about none!  And that's not 5-year goals based on the Dover Decision, but 5-year goals set from the founding of the DI's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture . . . which I believe was 1996.  So in reality after 19 years, they haven't achieved any of their 5 year goals, let alone put a dent in their 20 year goals."
I think the impact was profound, but why would John change the DI's spin and recognize the impact all of a sudden?  I wasn't sure why until I saw the end of his post.  He tried to turn it into a plea for support, monetary support.  Here is a couple of the last lines:
"Will you take a stand against censors like Judge Jones and help us continue and expand the debate over intelligent design in 2016?
If you've helped us in the past, can you do it again right now?And if you've never donated to our work, isn't it time to join us?
DONATE now to support the work of intelligent design in 2016."
So now it wasn't enough to try and vilify the Judge, he also wants to use that vilification to raise funds.  Picture my head shaking!

OK, so there you have it.  My prediction on the Judge being saved for the big 'myth' #1 was right, but they spread their attempted vilification for Judge Jones across 40% of their 'myths', something I didn't predict.  It might have been interesting if they had anything new to say.  But the reality is they simply repeated much of their whines and cries over the last decade.  Nothing new, nothing earth-shattering.  Just more marketing, more spin.

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