Thursday, December 14, 2006

Rick Pearcey's View of Judge Jones

I came across a blog of Rick and Nancy Pearcey called Pro-Existence. There is a post relating to Judge Jones's plagiarism masterpiece about which Jones has been surprisingly reluctant to comment on given, his penchant for making speeches about his decision.

As Rick Pearcey's article notes: "The judge's decision is a 90.9% masterpiece of plagiarism, according to the figure released by the Discovery Institute."

I'm glad the Pearceys are authoring this blog. I've been a fan of Nancy Pearcey since I purchased the book she co-authored with Charles Thaxton entitled 'The Soul of Science.' She is an incisive thinker whose contributing chapter in 'Darwin's Nemesis' is brilliant.

13 Comments:

At 1:27 PM, Blogger Ed Darrell said...

Here is the response I left at the Pearcey blog. Since they cast aspersions on me specifically, I hope they will publish it there.

1. Did you read Jones' opinion? Or did you, as others did, simply copy the Discovery Institute press release? I ask because when I went back to the opinion I was struck by how much of the opinion DI left out of their analysis. They chose only one section of the opinion, that section that makes the court's findings of fact. As we were taught in law school, and as we learn in trial school, these findings are proposed by the attorneys for the respective sides prior to the end of the trial. Each side proposes what they hope the judge will determine, usually in the light most favorable to their clients. In a case like the one in Dover, where the defense was not a good one, it is not unusual to find the judge picking exclusively from the Proposed Findings of Fact of the winning side. And really, the pro-ID side lost every argument at that trial.

But I'm curious why you don't speak out about the bias of the DI's analysis, if you read the decision. If you read the decision, you know that by far the majority of the writing is Jones -- or his clerks, if he has clerks. In law, there is much work to get the words accurate first. The best judges in our nation use clerks. In the Supreme Court, each justice has at least three clerks doing this work.

I suppose, if one dislikes fairness and accuracy in the justice system, one could complain about this process, even to the point of calling it "plagiarism."

But then, the Proposed Findings of Fact are public record. Judge Jones runs an open and transparent courtroom -- so anyone who had followed the trial would not call it plagiarism, knowing that the attributions were there all along.

Discovery Institute paid several people to be at the trial, as I understand it. One thing one might wonder is what DI got for its money, if the people they paid to be at the trial and follow it, foul this up so badly.

The claim of plagiarism against Judge Jones is pure calumny. It smacks of the threats made on Supreme Court justices that Justice O'Connor spoke of last year -- it's an attempt to intimidate the judges from doing their job. You should not participate in such activities, it seems to me.

2. Do you disagree with the findings of the Judge on the facts? Among other things, the defendants were revealed to be extremely forgetful, or liars, in cross examination. Liars generally should not get a lot of credence from a judge in the decision. You appear to be shocked -- shocked! -- that Judge Jones would pick the witnesses who appeared to be telling the truth, and stick with their version of the facts.

That's exactly what judges are supposed to do.

Out of the thousands of decisions I have read, this one strikes me as a masterwork of clarity. Judge Jones writes well, with originality, and he cites carefully, especially to the trial transcript.

I'll wager your own fact checkers are not so careful. Do you employ them? Do you have them screened by a national agency that certifies them as ethical and fully qualified to do the work, as judges and lawyers do? Will your books withstand similar scrutiny?

If so, I find it curious that you come down on the side found to be not telling the truth on the stand. Is there a new standard you wish to propose for justice, or is this a momentary error on your part?

3. The Discovery Institute's analysis has been thoroughly fisked, by good lawyers and good researchers. Their analysis is goofy -- what is "virtually verbatim?" Verbatim either is, or is not. Have you looked to see how the DI's analysis stands up?

Here, for example, is the analysis of the DI's claims, done by attorney Tim Sandefur: http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/12/dis_plagiarism.html

Sandefur, in his day job, is a legal beagle for the very conservative Pacific Legal Foundation. He can be trusted on these matters.

What? You didn't check the facts before you posted?

I see: You wish to hold a judge to a much different standard than you stick to -- and to a standard that you can't meet with this post.

Please reconsiderm then. It pains me to see people who urge ethical behavior on one hand, be sucked in by unethical press releases they don't check out thoroughly, on the other. It is in charity that our left and right hands are supposed to ignore each other, not in accuracy, not in the truth.

 
At 3:16 PM, Blogger William Bradford said...

Hello Ed. I don't know if you noticed but another post on this blog of Nathan Munson delved into related issues in more depth than this post which is essentially a reference to a post of another blog. I do want to get feedback from you on one of your paragraphs however. You wrote:

2. Do you disagree with the findings of the Judge on the facts? Among other things, the defendants were revealed to be extremely forgetful, or liars, in cross examination. Liars generally should not get a lot of credence from a judge in the decision. You appear to be shocked -- shocked! --that Judge Jones would pick the witnesses who appeared to be telling the truth, and stick with their version of the facts.

I believe you are referring to the board members and not the expert witnesses correct? I think you may be right about them which leads to the next point. Why did Judge Jones deal with the "is ID science" issue when he could have rendered a decision on the matter referred to in Munson's post? Was this not an example of judicial activism?

 
At 12:34 PM, Blogger Ed Darrell said...

At trial, the trial judge may rule according to credibility he or she attaches to all witnesses. I got the feeling that Jones was not impressed with the testimony of the defendants' experts with regard to the science issue. Without going back to check for specifics, my recollection is that he wrote the testimony had problems, especially in places -- such as when Dr. Behe insisted there were no studies on some facet, and the plaintiffs had a huge pile of such studies, which Behe then simply dismissed as inadequate.

So, while the blatant and egregious prevarication was done by board members, I don't see that the testimony of the creationist experts was highly ethical, or worthy of credence, either.

Why did the judge rule on the science issue? Because both sides asked him to. When both parties ask for a ruling, generally they get it. You may want to query the defendants' counsel for why they asked for it, but there you go.

Also, don't confuse trial decisions with appellate decisions. While on appeal a court may decide just one part and then kick it back for new trial or other action, at the trial level the parties need to get all their arguments and evidence in, and the judge needs to rule on the totality of the trial. I don't know how Judge Jones could have avoided ruling on the science question under the rules of civil procedure and rules of trial.

 
At 3:43 PM, Blogger William Bradford said...

Without going back to check for specifics, my recollection is that he wrote the testimony had problems, especially in places -- such as when Dr. Behe insisted there were no studies on some facet, and the plaintiffs had a huge pile of such studies, which Behe then simply dismissed as inadequate.

Ed, Munson's post gave a different version:

"For example, Jones falsely characterized the testimony of witness Michael Behe. Behe, according to Jones, when referencing specific articles alleged to explain the evolution of the immune system, said these articles were "not good enough." Behe's actual testimony was "it's not that they aren't good enough. It's simply that they are addressed to a different subject."

 
At 7:13 PM, Blogger Ed Darrell said...

Well, yeah, then I can see why a judge might consider Behe's credibility not up to par. Those studies addressed exactly the point. Jones knew that. The plaintiffs' team knew that. Behe was the expert, and he either didn't know, which means he's not credible as an expert, or he did know, and he dissembled.

Jones made the right call, didn't he.

 
At 8:00 PM, Blogger William Bradford said...

Those studies addressed exactly the point.

Ed, do you know specifically what studies are referred to by the question? If I were asked the question I would want to know the contents of each and every one of them. BTW, how many studies are we talking about? Was there a follow up question asking Behe to explain what subject he thought the papers addressed? I think the attorneys representing the defendants could have done a much better job but think it is difficult to be a competent attorney, a knowledgeable biochemist and someone with a good grasp of natural history all rolled into one. But that's the combination that would have better defined the issues. Krauze and Gene have done some credible work establishing that one can believe that species x evolved consistent with neo-Darwinian mutation & selection concepts and still provide evidence for ID. This trial did a poor job in bringing out the real intricacy of the subject matter.

 
At 5:45 AM, Blogger Ed Darrell said...

That's why you use experts.

Look, this was a federal trial. It would have been a violation of ethics for the plaintiffs' attorneys to just stack irrelevant studies there. Each one was listed and available to the defense team and to Behe. Each one was selected because it went directly to the issue of Behe's testimony. Behe's cavalier dismissal of the studies tells us nothing about them -- he went into no details -- but a lot about Behe and the credibility of his testimony, the credence that the judge should have given to Behe and his presentation.

The decision is pretty clear, I think, that Judge Jones did not grant a lot of credence to Behe. That is what trial judges do. It's their job.

Oh, yeah, the defense team was hampered by not being scientists. So was the plaintiffs' team. The plaintiffs' lawyers fixed things by hitting the books and getting experts. The defense team had the same opportunity -- and did so. I think there is a good case to be made that the Discovery Institute sabotaged the defense case, pulling out too late to allow replacement witnesses; but you saw what happened to Behe, and you should understand that Behe is the best science proponent the ID side has. A cross examination of Bill Dembski may well have produced howls of laughter from mathematicians, information theorists and high school teachers of biology nationwide.

The trial did an excellent job of laying out the state of science in intelligent design. When held to serious, rigorous standards of science and fact, ID crumbles.

These scurrilous attacks on Judge Jones are just further evidence of the intellectual and moral paucity that affects ID. Unable to make the case in the laboratory and the wild, ID advocates spent millions hammering school boards. When it was pointed out that school boards must adhere to the legal standards required by the First Amendment, ID advocates mostly chickened out. After losing the case clearly and thoroughly, instead of trying to make up for lost time by going to the lab, the ID public relations arm (still headed by the Swift Boat Veterans smear leaders?) initiate a smear of the federal judge who made the decision.

It's a form of intellectual and scientific terrorism we see here. A good, conservative, Republican, Christian, Boy Scout leader judge rules contrary to the wishes of the ID elite, and instead of trying to figure out how to make a better case, the ID intelligentsia conduct an expensive, national smear campaign against the judge. "Decide the case on its facts," they're saying, "and we'll ruin your reputation and (we hope) your career."

Why? What could possibly be the intent of such a campaign? The only possible result would be to discourage other judges from doing the right thing. The smear campaign does nothing for the credibility of ID -- anyone who reads the decision, who knows the decision is 34,000 words and not just 6,000 words, can do the math Dembski hopes they won't, and see that the "report" from DI is a sham, and scurrilous. The smear is founded in ignorance of the law and basic trial procedures that every first-year law student gets. So clearly it's not intended to impress the lawyers.

Discovery Institute appears to be banking on the gullibility of their friends, and the ignorance of ID advocates everywhere.

It's distressing to see otherwise Christians like the Pearceys fall for it.

 
At 12:10 PM, Blogger William Bradford said...

Behe's cavalier dismissal of the studies tells us nothing about them -- he went into no details -- but a lot about Behe and the credibility of his testimony,

This response of Behe indicates something other than dismissal:

" "it's not that they aren't good enough. It's simply that they are addressed to a different subject."

Behe did not criticize on the basis of not being good enough. It appears he is making a point about relevancy not lack of quality. Unfortunately only follow up questions could have nailed this down.

I would not feel too sorry for Judge Jones. He is a much sought after speaker. Are you aware of just how lucrative these engagements can be? Since I began looking into this I've found out that some speakers earn 7 figure incomes from speeches alone. In addition Jones is idolized by as many or more than criticize him.

 
At 2:04 AM, Blogger Ed Darrell said...

Yes, I know Behe claimed the studies were not relevant. Unfortunately for Behe, the judge had already ruled on that issue. The defense had agreed the studies were relevant. I suppose that, if one is unaware of how evidence works, one might take Behe's word on the issue.

Under federal rules and Pennsylvania ethics canons, Judges may not take large honoraria for speaking. Some speakers may make huge incomes, yes -- judges are not among those earners. Your slams at Judge Jones are still unwarranted.

 
At 7:09 AM, Blogger William Bradford said...

Yes, I know Behe claimed the studies were not relevant. Unfortunately for Behe, the judge had already ruled on that issue. The defense had agreed the studies were relevant. I suppose that, if one is unaware of how evidence works, one might take Behe's word on the issue.

I'll illustrate the difference between relevance to an issue and relevance to a solution. I once wrote of critique of a paper authored by Nick Matzke about the evolution of the bacterial flagellum. I thought the paper Nick authored was well written and that he did a good job at both ducumenting his sources and arguing for a particular position. The paper was relevant to the issue of both irreducble complexity and evolution. However the principle argument advanced by Matzke- one based on homologous proteins and their respective encoding genes- was in my view an answer to a different question than the one posed by IC. Homology cites an identification process namely, similar structures and amino acid residues and often, but not always, similar functions for each particular protein. What it does not do is document the process alleged to have generated a different composite function from dozens of homologous protein candidates and some non-homologous ones. The nominated process consists principally of random, selected mutations.

I strongly suspect two things. The papers shown to Behe rested to a great degree on homologous arguments and that Behe found, like I do, that the identification of homologous proteins answers the what question but not the vital how question. Behe's response was accurate and I would single out the defense attorneys as having failed to bring out this point. The point centers not on the relevance of homologous proteins, but on the relevance of the evidence for an exclusive answer to the question of an evolutionary pathway.

 
At 5:08 PM, Blogger Ed Darrell said...

If Behe believed that, why didn't he argue it? Behe was the expert. It was his job to make that point -- and he failed.

I think you need to stop making excuses and pay attention to what went on. Get the papers and see if they said what was claimed, or not.

If Behe had such a disagreement and failed to voice it, he's incompetent as an expert in his field. Maybe the plaintiffs should have challenged him under the Daubert rule -- he might not have qualified.

But since he was accepted as an expert, since the publications were all available prior to trial, since Behe didn't make an argument, we must assume that Behe had no argument to make. If he had an argument and didn't make it, he violated his duty and trust.

ID lost the case, fair and square. No amount of second-guessing will change that now.

But pay attention to what the judge said. If there had been a dozen papers presented showing ID research, from labs working in the area, ID would be in the textbooks now. It doesn't have anything to do with the bias of the judge.

The fault is not in the stars, Polonius. Why not get out there and do some research? 20 years now ID advocates have been whining that no one accepts their conclusions -- 20 years without a lick of research to lead to those conclusions.

At some point it's time to defecate or get off the beaker. That point was about 1989.

 
At 5:58 PM, Blogger William Bradford said...

If Behe believed that, why didn't he argue it? Behe was the expert. It was his job to make that point -- and he failed.

Judge Jones is not the only one at the trial who can be legitimately criticized. Other candidates include attorneys and witnesses. My point was that what Behe actually said was not consistent with Jones' interpretation of his remarks.

Aagcobb, who has posted at TT, and I agree on one thing. The long term fate of ID will not be decided in a courtroom. The "where are the research results" may sound appealing to you and the question is important but if years from now results are published and discussed, the evaluation of them will be all that matters. In the meantime we'll continue to peruse the literature from an ID perspective.

 
At 10:18 PM, Blogger Ed Darrell said...

So long as there are no research results, the fate of ID will be decided in a courtroom.

If I had to guess, I'd say it's already dead.

Einstein published five papers in 1905 that had the potential to revolutionize physics. He proposed a series of experiments that would confirm or deny his claims. In 1919 it was confirmed that the gravity of the Sun bent light coming around it, during an eclipse. That's 14 years from proposal to confirmation.

In contrast, intelligent design has been around now since 1987 -- 20 years. We don't have from all the people involved even ONE proposal for an experiment.

In about two-thirds the time that ID has been kicked around by its friends, Einstein's work on gravity was already confirmed.

I don't think it's unreasonable to think that, were there any science in ID, at least a hypothesis could have been proposed in 20 years. That there is no testable hypothesis and no work to get one only adds weight to the understanding that ID is intellectually dead.

The long-term fate of ID was decided in the laboratory and in the wild. There's no science there. It's religion. There will be no "years from now results are published." That's a pipe dream. ID is dead, and the panic in Seattle is just evidence of it.

By the way, Einstein never asked any school board to put any of his work in textbooks. Einstein never used a public relations firm famous for knee-capping people in the newspapers. Einstein never asked for a law to get his stuff in the books. Einstein never had to testify in court to try to get his stuff in the classroom. He was content to let the experimental results do the work.

ID is the cold fusion of biology, but lacking the experimental confirmation and research data that cold fusion has to support it.

 

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