Behe Part 2: Pomo vs. Buzzsaw

Michael Behe’s cross-examination started well. He answered the first four questions with as much confidence and aplomb as when he was answering the planned and rehearsed questions at the direct examination. For the record, those questions were:

  1. How are you?
  2. Professor Behe, do you have a copy of your deposition and expert report up there with you?
  3. And I saw that you had a copy of Pandas, but do you have a copy of Darwin’s Black Box with you?
  4. Professor Behe, there are many many peer-reviewed articles regarding the Big Bang theory, correct?

After that, it was all downhill.

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Behe: the Bore Before the Storm

Call me a wonk if you like, but I actually slogged through the Dover trial transcripts for Michael Behe’s testimony. I do hope you appreciate, gentle readers, the sacrifices I make for you.

The nutshell version: Is Intelligent Design science that should be taught in school? It depends on what your definition of “is” is.

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Creationism After Dover

As I wrote elsewhere, it looks as though the question is not whether the Intelligent Design Creationists will lose the Dover case, but how badly. But I don’t imagine for a moment that they’ll just throw up their hands and give up. So the question is, what’ll they do next?

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Dover Trial QOTD

From the Dover Intelligent Design trial, in Beth Eveland’s examination in day 3:

Q. Do you have it in front of you?

A. Yes, I do.

Q. And can you tell us what it is?

A. It looks to me to be a copy of a letter to the editor that I wrote.

Q. And I’m going to ask you to read this letter into the record.

A. Okay.

MR. MUISE: Objection, Your Honor. This letter is hearsay.

THE COURT: Say it again. I’m sorry.

MR. MUISE: Objection, hearsay.

THE COURT: Why is it hearsay?

MR. MUISE: She’s going to be reading in the letter, the contents of the statement. It’s an out-of-court statement. They’re obviously offering it for the truth of the matter.

THE COURT: Who wrote the letter?

MR. MUISE: She wrote the letter.

THE COURT: Overruled.

Michael Behe Gets His Ass Handed to Him

Michael Behe, a professor at Lehigh University, and one of the leading proponents of Intelligent Design, has been on the witness stand in the Dover ID trial. And it looks as though he had his ass handed to him.

The York Daily Record writes:

In his writings supporting intelligent design, Michael Behe, a Lehigh University biochemistry professor and author of “Darwin’s Black Box,” said that “intelligent design theory focuses exclusively on proposed mechanisms of how complex biological structures arose.”

But during cross examination Tuesday, when plaintiffs’ attorney Eric Rothschild asked Behe to identify those mechanisms, he couldn’t.

I think what this really boils down to is “ID is the answer, but only if you ask the question in a very specific manner”, and the lawyer isn’t playing along and asking the correct questions.

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Pledge of Allegiance Ruled Unconstitutional

A federal judge has ruled the Pledge of Allegiance to be unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton sided with atheist Michael Newdow in ruling Wednesday that the pledge’s reference to God violates the rights of children in three school districts to be “free from a coercive requirement to affirm God.”

Okay, this part is pretty much a no-brainer. But there are other problems with the pledge.
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Pascal’s T-Shirt

PZ Meyeyers provides the most succinct refutation of Pascal’s Wager that I’ve seen:

Suppose I had a million dollars. Then I would be rich! Therefore, I have a million dollars.

I suppose a better parallel would run something like:

If I think I’m rich, and I really am rich, then I get lots of good stuff.
If I think I’m rich, but I’m really not, I can’t spend my money anyway, so I haven’t really lost anything.
If I don’t think I’m rich, but I really am, then the IRS will demand a lot more money from me than I think I have, which will make me sad.
If I don’t think I’m rich, and I’m really not, I haven’t gained or lost anything.

However, PZ’s version fits on a T-shirt or bumper sticker, and is a lot snappier.

Stop Presses! ID Actually Explains Something!

In Uncommon Descent, Bill Dembski criticizes Steven Pinker’s evolutionary explanation of goosebumps as “fluffing up long-gone fur”, then attempts to give an ID explanation:

What about the intelligent design of goose bumps? I’m perfectly happy to consider them a quirk that results from evolution working in tandem with design. But let’s say we had to come up with a design explanation of them. Here goes: goose bumps kick in when we’re frightened or cold or otherwise experience strong emotions. But is it that we are consciously having such experiences or is it the goose bumps that assist in bringing to consciousness such experiences. Goose bumps are, after all, not under conscious control — they are governed by the sympathetic nervous system. Perhaps goose bumps are designed as a way of bringing to consciousness various stresses that need attention.

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Kent Hovind Gets Taken Again

Oh, this is just too precious.

The April 2005 issue of Scientific American included an editorial entitled “Okay, We Give Up” and subtitled, “We feel so ashamed”. The editors said they were contrite for ignoring creationism and ID, simply because there’s no evidence for either one.

That’s what makes ID a superior scientific theory: it doesn’t get bogged down in details.

Good journalism values balance above all else. We owe it to our readers to present everybody’s ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts.

This was clearly an April Fools joke. Perhaps not the funniest ever, but still pretty blatant. But Kent Hovind fell for it anyway.

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Frequently Unanswered Questions about Intelligent Design

I’ve started putting together a list of questions about Intelligent Design that ID proponents have yet to answer, as far as I know.

Some of these questions are fairly basic, such as “what is the scientific theory of Intelligent Design?”, “Who is the designer?”, and “What is the lesson plan for teaching ID?” If IDists can’t give sensible answers to questions like these, what the hell are they doing pushing it in public schools?

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