SocraticGadfly: 12/18/05 - 12/25/05

December 20, 2005

Behe, Dembski, ID get a royal smackdown

Judge says Behe doesn’t even understand his own theory

How could Judge John Jones say such a thing (page 46, footnote 7)?

“Outright lies under oath”? How could the good Christian creationist Intelligent Design former Dover, Pa., board members do such a thing?

Oh, let’s count the ways:
1. Ideological jealousy
2. Fundamentalist fervor, or, if you will, a crusading mentality
3. A quasi-theocratic mindset
4. Lack of education themselves
5. Willful ignorance of what their own educations and the world around have availed them
6. A planned pattern of deception for the half-decade since the Discovery Institute pulled the “wedge strategy” from its website.

I’m sure you could list more.

As other bloggers have noted, this is a slam-dunk victory for proper science education in public schools and a crushing defeat for IDers. Plus, since the Edward decision, as Judge Jones noted, nationalized Supreme Court rulings on scientific creationism, if his ruling stands, it will do the same nationally for ID.

And, by pointing out the family antecedents of ID in scientific creationism, from IDers’ own paper trail, Jones has also established precedent against what’s next up IDers sleeves. As part of that, Jones’ long memorandum carefully notes the political and social activity of the old Dover school board as part of its deception.

Jones carefully points out how the old Dover board and its IDer backers deliberately distorted the scientific use of the word “theory,” how the book Pandas changed “creationism” to “ID” right after the Edwards decision and more.

He also notes how IDers science claims don’t stack up, either. (All quotes below are referenced by page number in the PDF.)
We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are: (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980's; and (3) ID’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. (64) …

It is notable that defense experts’ own mission, which mirrors that of the
IDM itself, is to change the ground rules of science to allow supernatural causation of the natural world, which the Supreme Court in Edwards and the court in McLean correctly recognized as an inherently religious concept. (67)

It doesn’t get much more emphatic than that.

Of course, if you try to redefine science, you might think you have a chance of winning.
The Wedge Document states in its “Five Year Strategic Plan Summary” that the IDM’s goal is to replace science as currently practiced with “theistic and Christian science.” (69)

But, of course, that doesn’t work, either.
Notably, every major scientific association that has taken a position on the issue of whether ID is science has concluded that ID is not, and cannot be considered as such. (69)

Of course, this nuttery did lead leading IDer Michael Behe to make a buffoon of himself on the witness stand.
First, defense expert Professor Fuller agreed that ID aspires to “change the ground rules” of science and lead defense expert Professor Behe admitted that his broadened definition of science, which encompasses ID, would also embrace astrology. (68)

Plus, vaunted intellectuals Behe and Dembski show they don’t even grasp one of the most elemental principals of logic: You can’t prove a negative.
ID proponents primarily argue for design through negative arguments against evolution. … However, we believe that arguments against evolution are not arguments for design. Expert testimony revealed that just because scientists cannot explain today how biological systems evolved does not mean that they cannot, and will not, be able to explain them tomorrow. (71)

As referenced, the concept of irreducible complexity is ID’s alleged scientific centerpiece. Irreducible complexity is a negative argument against evolution, not proof of design, a point conceded by defense expert Professor
Minnich. (71-72)

Uhh, wouldn’t this be “ID of the gaps”?

In addition, Judge Jones points out that Behe doesn’t even have a good handle on his own theory, let alone what is allegedly wrong with the theory of evolution.
Professor Behe admitted in “Reply to My Critics” that
there was a defect in his view of irreducible complexity because, while it purports to be a challenge to natural selection, it does not actually address “the task facing natural selection.” (73)

It’s now official. ID has zero credibility.

And in case IDers don’t get that fact, for good measure, Jones refers to the “breathtaking inanity” of the board’s policy.

December 19, 2005

Ex-presidents silent so far on domestic spying

Hear that deafening sound outside Fort Meade, Md.?

It’s the sound of ex-presidents protesting George W. Bush’s National Security Agency spying on Americans.

Will that change?

Likely not.

Here’s why.

Gerald Ford tried to stonewall Frank Church’s Senate Intelligence Committee and Otis Pike’s House Select Committee, not to mention the far more explosive House Government Information Subcommittee of Bella Abzug. Remember that these hearings occurred not only after Watergate but after the stench of Ford’s pardon of Nixon, and yet a theoretically “weakened” Ford still did some hard-core stonewalling. Read “The Puzzle Palace”, by James Bamford, pages 375-88, including Rumsfeld’s involvement during his first tour as Secretary of Defense.

Jimmy Carter? He did push for, and sign into law, the Foreign Intelligence Security Act in 1978. There’s a possibility he will speak in public, rather than just trying to call W on the carpet in private. We shall see.

George H.W.? Please. He certainly won’t say anything in public, and as ex-head of the CIA, probably has no private qualms about this one, either. So, scratch that.

Clinton? As I’ve posted before in comments, he doubled the number of FISA requests before Bush doubled them again. Now, I’m not saying he did anything illegal, and I do take note this initial doubling occurred after the the 1993 WTC attack, but in his/Hillary’s national health care meetings showed, he’s not necessarily the world’s greatest friend of government openness. (You’ll also note that neither one of the Clintons appear to have huge qualms about the Patriot Act.)

In part, this will be a battle of executive privilege questions, which is why even Carter may not speak out in public. We shall see.

Rumsfeld, NSA and illegality — not a first

From page 385 of James Bamford's "The Puzzle Palace," re Operation Shamrock:
President Ford notified Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General Levi that, because the (Congressional) subpoenas also called for records "containing the most sensitive national security information," they should "decline to comply."

The following day Rumsfiled instructed the NSA employee ... the subpoenas were not to be complied with. Then, for the first time in history, the concept of executive privilege was extended to a private corporation: Western Union.

And we weren't even in a war at this time. So, we should trust Bush and his Defense Secretary, one Donald Rumsfeld, for what reason?

December 18, 2005

Clinton had a hand in FISA request jump

The increase in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Orders has been going up for nearly 15 years.

The requests have doubled since Bush became president BUTthey also doubled under Clinton's presidency.

Now, there's no indication Clinton ever authorized anything to be done without warrant, or anything as focused inside America as Bush did.

And, if "things changed after 9/11," they had started to change after the earlier 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. I can understand part of the reason for the increase.

I’m not claming “moral equivalence.”

Nonetheless, Clinton did start the process of ramping up FISA requests.

See here.

And, we don’t know, as Bush claimed, just what briefing Congress got on this. Possibly nothing, in line with Bush’s lie that it got the same intelligence as he did on Iraq. But maybe, just maybe, people on the Senate and House intelligence committees did get at least a partial briefing, and enough that somebody could have said, “Hey!”