Comments on Greg Cootsona and ID

No, but DI was on board, enthusiastically supporting the Dover Area School Board’s desire to force creationism down children’s throats. And it wasn’t just the isolated acts of various DI fellows. The affidavit of Leonard Brown, filed in the court as an exhibit to a motion to intervene, states that he was “retained by the Discovery Institute to serve as its counsel” with regard to the litigation and that DI and a number of DI fellows had requested his firm’s representation at depositions.

By the way, I had thought there was another DI fellow expert, and there was: John Campbell. FIVE fellows, all signed on as experts. That’s an extraordinary level of commitment to the cause of damaging the science education of children. The notion that they didn’t think forcing these beliefs on children was advisable is just historically inaccurate: they were gung-ho.

Now, it will always be a bit of a mystery why they backed out. The reason given – refusal to allow them to have their own counsel at depositions – is so bizarre, and so out of accord with ordinary practice, that it smells pretextual. Did they smell defeat coming? Did they want plausible (albeit not terribly plausible) deniability over having been on board? Had they just blundered into this position without really thinking about what they were doing? It’s hard to work out, and the fact that their own statements aren’t particularly consistent and don’t make a great deal of sense doesn’t help. For some reason, the signal was given to abandon ship, and Behe, perhaps out of a stronger sense of honor and duty, went down with the ship instead.

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Please don’t expect the average participant here at Peaceful Science to think this NEW Discovery program changes anything in terms of what is being proposed for the public schools:

“But in the last decade a new approach to teaching about evolution has been developed to meet the test of good science and satisfy the courts’ standards of constitutionality. This new approach uses the phrase “teach the controversy.” The idea is to use scientific disagreements over evolution to help students learn more about evolution, and about how science deals with controversy. According to this approach, students should learn the scientific case for evolution, but in doing so they should study the scientific criticisms of various aspects of evolutionary theory.” [June 20, 2006]

“Teaching the controversy” is pretty much “word magic” for:

"Don’t say you are teaching Intelligent Design … say you are teaching why Christians criticize evolutionary theory!"

Here’s the Wiki article on the topic:

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I haven’t advocated such an approach. I wasn’t talking about such an approach. I merely reported that ID’s position before the Dover trial was that ID should not be mandated in the schools. This has been confirmed by things I posted today. Even Tim now grants it. And even Roy, who is normally hostile to anything I write, grants it. That should settle the point of fact. Whether everything about Discovery’s approach to education is good – that is not a question I here answered or even addressed.

As for what Wikipedia has to say about it, in your boxed quotation, pretty much everything on Wikipedia related to the origins conflict, ID, etc., is intellectual excrement, filled with lies and distortions written by hardened partisans. It’s not a reliable source on the subject. Even the founder of Wikipedia has explicitly criticized its handling of these issues. I haven’t looked at anything it says about these questions in years. I recommend you do the same, unless you enjoy being intellectually manipulated by people with an agenda.

I guess you don’t intend to provide us with explicit statements from the DI, praising Dover for instituting its ID policy, to justify this claim?

I say nothing against the motives of the others, but Behe is definitely an honorable and decent man. He has endured personal abuse, quite often from his moral and scientific inferiors, that no one should have to endure. I think it must be at least in part his Christian faith that restrains him from lashing back as most people would, in similar situations.

Then why does he write trashy pseudo-science books aimed at the lay public instead of producing actual scientific research supporting his ID-Creationism claims? To most observers it looks like he’ll keep milking the Fundamentalist True Believer cash cow until the teats run dry.

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[A few points of clarification for Eddie’s response to @Cootsona]

‘Creationism’ has always been an explicitly anti-evolution movement:

As late as the 1920s antievolutionists chose to dedicate their organizations to "Christian Fundamentals," "Anti-Evolution," and "Anti-False Science," not to creationism. It was not until 1929 that one of George McCready Price’s former students, the Seventh-day Adventist biologist Harold W. Clark, explicitly packaged Price’s new catastrophism as "creationism." In a brief self-published book titled Back to Creationism Clark urged readers to quit simply opposing evolution and to adopt the new "science of creationism," by which he meant Price’s flood geology. For decades to come various Christian groups, from flood geologists to theistic evolutionists, squabbled over which camp most deserved to use the creationist label. However, by the 1980s the flood geologists/scientific creationists had clearly co-opted the term for their distinctive interpretation of earth history.

Ronald L. Numbers, History Topic: Antievolutionists and Creationists

I would further point out that the Creation Science Movement, which lays claim to the title “the oldest creationist movement in the world”, started life (in 1932) as the “Evolution Protest Movement”.

I think many would consider Behe’s acceptance of Common Descent to be partial or incomplete. He appears to believe that Common Descent ‘stalls’ without frequent interventions by ‘an Intelligent Designer he believes is God’, to install Irreducible Complexity, take Evolution past its purported ‘Edge’, or to forstall “Darwin[ism” from “Devolv[ing]”. This position would appear to be indistinguishable from Progressive Creationism ( Progressive creationism - Wikipedia ).

Yes, as I pointed out years ago, in a detailed word-study reproduced later on this site–

– but in the present discussion, I was saying to Greg that one of the virtues of ID theory is that it does not assume that creation and evolution are in opposition. Some leading ID proponents have affirmed universal common descent – which no creationist on the planet does.

People can interpret his version of common descent as they choose. I merely point out that he affirms it, and explicitly distinguishes himself from those whose religious views don’t permit common descent. There’s a nice section on this in the middle of Darwin Devolves.


The reason you had to settle the “point of fact” was because the allegations against Discovery prior to the court decision was pretty consistent with the continued allegations against Discovery for what they consider to be a completely objective position regarding teaching origins in the public schools.

While I may agree that you have SETTLED the “point of fact” - - Discovery still has some real problems with the official program that they say is completely objective. So, it seems inevitable that you will have to address that question sometime in the future.

If memory serves, they wanted to submit signed affidavits to avoid cross examination. When it became obvious they would have to testify in court and be cross examined they quickly backed out. I at least give Behe the credit he deserves for having the spine to face cross examination.

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I seem to recall Dembski’s change of heart about testifying coincided with Jeffrey Shallitt’s deposition regarding Dembski’s lack of science credentials.

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No, indeed, I don’t. Because the policy which DI pursued is much more indicative of its agenda than its mealy-mouthed statements.

Note, too, that the DI has never opposed ramming creationism down students’ throats. Its stated policy (but not its “as-acted-out” policy) is pure litigation strategy: don’t “mandate” creationism at the school board level, but permit it at the instructor level. This way, you have a policy which is hard to mount a First Amendment lawsuit against because you must attack it “as applied” rather than facially. But the policy of encouraging ramming creationism into the kids is the whole point.


Maybe, but I sort of doubt it. If they thought the case was going to be won by the District on summary judgment, then that would make sense. But the problem there is that if expert opinion testimony were in the mix for the decision, the District couldn’t win on summary judgment – you’d have to have a trial. If they understood what expert testimony, and discovery thereof, involved, they would have known from the get-go that they would first have to render a written report, then undergo a deposition, and then testify at trial.

Their 180-degree turn remains the central mystery to me. I can understand why they got in, but I cannot understand why they got out. If they really thought that this new brand of Creation Science was going to work, they’d been writing horrid books about it for a decade and they certainly must have thought that they were as ready as they’d ever be. Their excuse – not being allowed separate counsel at their depositions – is bizarre and it’s hard to imagine why they thought that this would be tolerated by anyone. And they weren’t going to have separate counsel at the trial in any event, so what’s the difference? I think the reason given was a pretext.

Litigation-wise, they would have been wise to stay away from federal courts – far better to have these fights in state courts, where the quality of the judiciary is lower and the likelihood of political influence of religious extremism over the judges is higher.

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I thought this would be your answer. It’s consistent with your generally data-free, rhetoric-heavy, approach to discussing ID and the DI. But at least I manage to establish your error about the publisher of Pandas, and I established that the DI statements about not mandating ID predated the Dover trial proceedings. Perhaps those are two points on which we will not have to have the same arguments here, again and again.

To be blunt, the reason I had to settle the point of fact is that far too many people here (and elsewhere) have formed their opinions about Discovery from secondhand and thirdhand sources, and haven’t been willing to take the time to read statements on the Discovery site. I’ve followed the Discovery site – on this issue, anyway – since before the Dover trial started, and was perfectly aware that they had a consistent policy statement from 2005 on (and Seth Cooper says that goes back to at least 2003, in his experience). The unwillingness to believe that Discovery said what it in fact said has to be attributed to prejudice. It amounts to: “They couldn’t possibly ever have said that, because it’s not consistent with my picture of their goals and motives, so I won’t believe they ever said that.” Once the implicit reasoning is laid out so crudely and honestly, it’s easy to see how prejudiced and unscholarly it is.

That’s the same Discovery site which claimed ID has nothing to do with religion.

Too many people have formed opinions on the guilt of convicted felons based on the more than reasonable doubt evidence presented at trial and haven’t been willing to listen to the felons’ pleas of “but I’m innocent!”. :roll_eyes:

What’s that saying - if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, swims like a duck, quacks like a duck…

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No, it’s actually consistent with evaluating the DI’s policies in terms of how they are carried out rather than how they are stated.

I didn’t say they’d published Of Pandas and People. I was mistaken in saying the DI itself had published the manual on the approach to curricula, when in fact that was published by some fellows of the DI through FTE. And yes, the DI did make that statement about school boards not mandating IDC, but when push came to shove the DI decided to go to work for the cause of a school board mandating IDC.

I look forward to the day when a man accused of murder, caught at the scene with the weapon in his hand, announces that he is innocent because he once said that it was against his policy to murder people.

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Yes, you’re right – I momentarily confused titles. But we both know the title I’m referring to.

An odd addition – “some fellows of the DI through”. The more normal expression would be simply “by FTE”. But of course, you add those words to put your “spin” on the facts. Have it your way.

A statement that is not true unless heavily qualified, given that Discovery, as such, did no work for the Dover Board once it went against its advice with its policy. Some Discovery fellows chose to speak up for the educational value of ID as expert witnesses. They acted as individuals.

Yes, pointing out who the authors are is the very worst sort of spin, isn’t it?

Again, the attorney for the DI said he was retained by the DI to represent its interests, as well as the interests of its fellows who were experts, in the litigation. And one of those fellows was Stephen Meyer, who was already at that time the Director of the Center for Science and Culture at DI. While of course an expert witness “acts as an individual” because a corporate entity like DI, lacking a mouth, cannot physically testify on its own behalf, it’s fair to say that when the head of the organization and multiple fellows get neck-deep in the litigation and seek not only to be represented themselves but seek also to have legal representation for the organization in that litigation, the organization is fully involved.

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The spin lies in the fact that, having been forced to admit that the book was published not by DI but by FTE, you tried to still slip in a “DI publishing” claim by speaking of authors who happened to be DI fellows as “publishing through” FTE. Just wanted you to know that I observed the sleight of hand. Have a nice evening. :wink:

I am sure that the principles of relative motion account for this perception on your part. Surely, once the DI has you spinning as hard as you are, ordinary expressions of plain facts bearing directly upon the point at issue must look as though they are spinning wildly. What’s the DI got you up to? I’m guessing at least 5000 rpm.