Merry Kitzmas!

It’s that day again. Kitzmiller is now 17 years old.


Ah yes, the day ID died. In fact you declared that yourself in your Amazon Review of Darwin Devolves here:

The gold standard for ID Creationism – which is to say, the best of a bad thing. (

In there you mentioned:

That last bit may be understandable, as Behe is undoubtedly aware that of all the nails in ID Creationism’s coffin, the one he drove in with his disastrous testimony in Kitzmiller is one of the most secure.

But……what I don’t understand @Puck_Mendelssohn , is that if ID really is, as you’ve declared, dead, why do you bother writing all those long, well planed-out attacks on ID books on amazon? This would all seem unnecessary.

So my question…do you still stand by your statement that the “nails where in the coffin” 17 years ago? And if so, does that mean that prior to that, ID was alive?

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It’s like that intersection of busy streets where there used to be a lot of traffic accidents. Then they put up a traffic light and there is hardly ever a collision any more. Now that it’s safe again, should we take down the traffic light?

Misinformation is a persistent threat, and history tends to repeat itself even when we try to avoid past mistakes. A wise man named Peter wrote something about that. You could be thanking Puck for keeping the memory alive.

We have a whole other current thread just for this sort of question. Maybe try there first?


Alas, this didn’t make it through moderation on Kitzmas. I guess today is the Kitzmas version of “boxing day.”

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… though it probably will be overruled before it is 20 years old.

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Is this the new midwinter festival?

(The solstice celebration at Stone-not-a-henge has been disappointing - fog is making it difficult to see the megaliths, let alone the sun)

I would say that it never was, but that before Dover, the illusion of life was easier to maintain for the gullible parts of the public.

If you look closely, they’ve neglected the pseudoscientific parts (like their joke of a journal, Bio-Complexity) while putting more of their eggs in the Culture War basket.

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Well, it’s been dead as a scientific notion for more than a century. It staggered out of the grave, still bleeding from the brain, as a litigation/lobbying strategy, meeting its end in Kitzmiller. And now it lives on only as a pension plan for liars at the DI. So, yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. Or, if you prefer, clap for Tinkerbell. It isn’t really dead as long as there are people dim enough to think it’s not.

Why do I write reviews of these books? I have a soft spot in my heart for the halfwits who believe this stuff, and so I do try to give them a bit of redirection to actual science instead.


We are in a bit of trouble, church/state-wise, right now. I would not expect a case like Kitzmiller to be overturned, but I could see it being more or less overlooked. The difficulty is that to really put the case well the fundies would need a school board nutty enough to do it but smart enough to know to give completely false reasons from the very beginning for doing it. Privately speaking in tongues and handling the snakes, and publicly upright. Not easy to put that together. That’s why a lot of the legal strategy in the post-Kitzmiller world has been toward giving litigation cover to individual teachers who are barking mad.


They could also use the approach of having the Supreme Court decree that federal courts have no jurisdiction over what kinds of “science” get taught in schools, leaving it up to the states, or even up to individual schools or individual teachers. That would effectively overturn Kitzmiller.

They used a similar approach to toss out the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In the case of teaching evolution, I am actually hopeful that many young people in places where evolutionary biology is mistaught will not be fooled, in the end.

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Yes, something along those lines. It seems to me that Scalia gave some indication of being sympathetic to that view in Edwards v. Aguillard. One of the longstanding tensions in constitutional law is that between deference to the legislature in matters where legislative authority is broad and scrutiny of legislative acts where that broadness steps on traditional rights. The most extreme school of thought says that the legislature, when it finds some fact to be such-and-such for purposes of legislation, is basically infallible: the legislature’s statements about the state of the facts, or the reasons for its actions, will not be reviewed. So if a legislature enacts a law that seems to go a long way toward state establishment of religion, but says it has nothing but secular purposes for doing so, well, that would be the end of the matter.

On the other end of that spectrum is a much more searching scrutiny of legislative acts. What’s funny here is that I don’t think that there have been many on the Court who really have a consistent philosophical position on this sort of thing. In practice it tends to be “I searchingly scrutinize things states do that I find unseemly, and I defer to the state whenever it doesn’t bother me.” Obviously, we currently have a majority on the Court whose face ain’t bovvered by religion in the schools.

The easiest way, but perhaps a risky way, to get this before the Court would be for one of the sillier states to enact something like the law challenged in Edwards v. Aguillard. Say lots of stuff about how this is really about getting kids the best science education for the real world, and how critical thinking is really a key to that, and how understanding and evaluating different points of view on the origin of living diversity is a great way to build critical thinking. And then just dump Scientific Creationism, or ID Creationism, or whatever, wholesale into the curriculum. Stand back, watch the District Court and the Court of Appeals overturn it, and then file that petition for certiorari.

But, to be honest, these people have already been stomping all over evolution in the schools and we not only need such things as the Aguillard decision to stand but also need more consistent civil rights enforcement. Right now any rogue teacher can teach creationism, and it is hard as hell to do anything much about it if the community supports that. The difficulty of bringing a constitutional challenge is greater when you have to make audio recordings in order to avoid denial of the central claims – you have to have a plaintiff who really wants to take the son-of-a-bitch down. But community pressure can make that exceedingly hard, especially if the kid isn’t getting parental support.

Some won’t be. And some don’t benefit on this score from being taught it correctly, too. But many will be fooled, and the fact that this is taught in schools reduces its susceptibility to popular ridicule and scorn, which is dangerous.



@Puck_Mendelssohn , you’re obviously rather intelligent. So it would seem odd if you were trying to convince those in the ID movement that their movement is dead because some judge supposedly killed it 17 years ago. You especially should know that he doesn’t have the credentials (nor ability) to do that. ID proponents however, do know better…and simply ignored him and continue on.

It makes me wonder who you’re actually trying to convince here. Perhaps yourself? That’s fine, and understandable, if ID is something you obviously hate so much. But just to be honest with you, from my perspective the more you reference Kitzmiller from 17 years ago, the more desperate you come across. You can wish it dead, but the ID movement is not going to die.

Ah, quote-mining. Or, at least, partial-quoting. What I said was:

It was of course long dead as science already. But the litigation strategy of dressing creationism up in Steve Meyer’s sportcoat, dousing it in cologne to cover the reek, and giving it a new name so as to dodge the case law of the teaching of scientific creationism really did die in Kitzmiller. Nobody’s been crazy enough to try that one again.

As I said, it does live on as a pension plan for the liars of the DI. As long as there are IDiots, there will be ID. But its own proponents know that it’s not a viable scientific line of inquiry, and they demonstrate that knowledge by doing no science. They also know it’s not a viable line of litigation strategy after Kitzmiller, and they demonstrate that knowledge by not seeking to get it before the courts. It’s down to the swindling-rubes level of subsistence, living on as the pigeon-drop scheme of the Bible Belt.


I found it interesting that Stephen Meyer titled his latest book “Return of the God Hypothesis”. That may be taken as the return of God to ID, dropping the pretentious firewall between design and designer. In terms of separation of church and state, this would be an exhibit.


Yet they didn’t appeal.

But hey, if your subscription to credentialism isn’t fraudulently selective, what credentials do your ID heroes have relative to, let’s say, mine?

There are always suckers.

This, Jeff. It’s obvious that they don’t believe what they’re selling you.

We also reference the methods modelled by the tobacco industry to cast doubt on the medical science that smoking causes cancer.

Those methods were highly successful - from the tobacco industry viewpoint - and misinformation campaigns have since been used by big oil companies to deny climate change, various political organizations, and of course the Discovery Institute and other religious ministries with an interest in denying evolution. So yes, we reference Kitzmiller, loudly and often, because it’s the high-water mark for the Intelligent Design misinformation campaign.

… but the ID movement is not going to die.

Here I might agree, because ID is essentially a religious concept with all the identifiers stripped out in an effort to fool people into thinking that ID is science. Religion certainly isn’t going away, and so neither is ID. As far as science is concerned though, ID has a fork in it - it’s done.


Yeah, and I think part of what’s going on there is that the failure of the lobbying/litigation end of this thing has become evident to all. Apart from the comparatively limp “academic freedom act” sorts of measures, they’ve got no plausible legislative program that doesn’t run smack into the First Amendment. And litigation? They will never set foot in a courtroom again if something doesn’t radically change, because they got burned so badly last time they tried. They even saw that one coming, hence Meyer et al. signing up to be experts in Kitzmiller and then exiting in a rush.

I think that the pretense just no longer has a purpose. Their principal donors always knew that it was a religious program with a purely religious objective, but there was a time, with lobbying and litigation objectives, when it made sense to deny that. But who could possibly be fooled now?

What may well happen to them, now that the Court is in the hands of religious extremists, is that their dodge becomes irrelevant anyhow. It’s not impossible that this Court would stand by and watch “Creation Science” being taught, and do nothing to stop it.


That’s because after the subsequent school board elections, there was no-one left to mount an appeal. A lack of appeal does not bolster Judge Jones’s decision.

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No, but it certainly does leave it in place. And the Kitzmiller decision wasn’t very vulnerable to appeal because it was a pretty straightforward application of the Lemon standard and an appeals court would defer to the judge on his findings of fact.

People get a bit confused about all the various senses in which a court decision precludes contrary action of one kind or another. It’s fair to say that as a trial court decision, Kitzmiller is merely advisory in its impact upon other trial courts. But it would be a mistake to think that “merely advisory” means “insignificant.” It doesn’t bind another court – it binds only the parties before the court – but it won’t be ignored, either, in any sufficiently analogous case.

As to the issue of whether the judge has the “ability” or the “credentials,” well, as I have said elsewhere: the courts have no authority to declare, for science, what is or isn’t science. But they sure do have the authority to declare, for the law, what is or isn’t science. And the court is competent to reach any issue which lies within its jurisdiction and which is submitted by the parties for review. The parties, not the judge, decided that a federal court ought to decide whether ID was science. And the school board, far from insisting that the court shouldn’t decide that, simply insisted that the court should decide that it is science. Having put the matter in issue they are in no position to complain that the court had the audacity to decide it.


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