David Coppedge Trial: Fourth Week

It’s been days since we posted about the suit filed by David Coppedge, the creationist who claims he was wrongfully demoted (and later fired) by his employer because he was promoting Intelligent Design (ID) on the job. As you recall, he used to work as a computer technician for Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which is part of Caltech. He also maintains a creationist website: Creation-Evolution Headlines — which was recently moved here.

Week two of the trial started on 19 March, during which there was literally no news at all, and we posted at the end of that week that because the press had lost interest, we could no longer post daily about the trial.

Week three started on 26 March, and during that week there was also no news. Our only post was over the weekend, on 01 Apr ’12. We finally found a news story which informed us that Coppedge’s supervisor, Greg Chin, had been testifying about problems JPL had with Coppedge. That was the last news story we’ve been able to find.

Oh, in case you’re wondering, we don’t regard the Discoveroids as a reliable source of news. They did post something at their blog to the effect that one or two JPL employees didn’t have a problem with Coppedge. Even if true, that’s hardly surprising. It would be truly astonishing if the entire organization disliked him. But that’s been the extent of the Discoveroids’ recent “news” of the trial.

We’re now in week four, which started on 02 April, and the silence from the media is continuing. We had no choice but to visit the court court clerk’s office, here: Superior Court of California, Los Angeles. If you use that link, at the box for “Case Number” you need to enter BC435600. Some minimal information is available for free — the names of the parties and their lawyers, a list of what documents have been filed, what proceedings have been held, and what future hearings have been scheduled.

No new pleadings or orders have been entered, but there appears to be a daily log about whether the trial is in session or not. If we understand the terminology correctly, they say “Trial continued” if the day ends early for some reason, and when it doesn’t end early they say “Full Day of Trial Held.” If there’s no entry for a particular day, our assumption is that nothing happened; although it’s possible that the clerk’s office just didn’t make the appropriate entry.

Using those cryptic notations is pretty much like reading tea leaves, but for what it’s worth — perhaps nothing — this is the court clerk’s account of last week and the first half of this week:

For week three, from 26 March through 30 March, the trial was in session for a partial day Monday through Thursday, and apparently there was no activity on Friday. This week, which runs from 02 April through 06 April, there was a full day of trial on Monday and Tuesday and a partial day on Wednesday. There’s no entry yet for today, Thursday the fifth was a partial day, and of course we have no clue what Friday will bring.

The press continues to ignore the trial. We assume that’s because it never lived up to the creationist hype of being an “intelligent design trial” against NASA. It was never either of those, so the journalists have totally lost interest. We haven’t lost interest, but as this post shows, we’re starving for information.

There’s one thing about which we’re certain: If anything big had occurred which was favorable to Coppedge, the press releases would have been flying around — and that hasn’t happened. So in this case, no news is good news.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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55 responses to “David Coppedge Trial: Fourth Week

  1. Literally “All Quiet on the Western Front”.

  2. creationist1

    from what I can tell this is a sad day for creationists and not all of us creationists are happy about this trial, as stated before, many people of faith go quietly about their work and pay their taxes and are respected and appreciated by their fellow workers.

  3. retiredsciguy

    c1, what does “being a person of faith” have to do with doing your work and paying taxes? Isn’t that what we expect from all productive citizens, outwardly religious or not?

    And why do self-professed “people of faith” consider that to be a virtue in itself? What is virtuous about blindly believing something that you have been taught since childhood to believe without question?

    The whole idea of science is to ask questions, and seek the evidence that might answer them. When it comes to improving the human condition, isn’t this the more virtuous path?

  4. A minor update was made to the post. The clerk’s office indicates that yesterday was a partial day of trial. Perhaps Coppedge had another headache.

  5. aturingtest

    Retiredsciguy: To be fair to creationist1, I think he meant his “people of faith pay taxes,…” to be taken in context with the “not all of us creationists are happy about this trial” part- IOW, that most creationists don’t support Coppedge, and wouldn’t have stirred up the fuss he has. They would believe what they believe, and do so quietly. Maybe I’m giving him too much credit here…

  6. creationist1

    retired guy comments:
    c1, what does “being a person of faith” have to do with doing your work and paying taxes? Isn’t that what we expect from all productive citizens, outwardly religious or not?

    Yes I agree. Don’t dispute what you say. Was only trying to show that not all creationists are the same in the way they live. Sorry you missed my point.

  7. creationist1

    aturingtest….yes that is what I was trying to say. I think there are a lot of people of faith, with a lot of different views of creation who do not act like the person in the trial is purported to have acted. I think John Milton sums it up best “The best apology against false accusers is silence and sufferance, and honest deeds set against dishonest words.” – John Milton
    And I am not saying JPL are false accusers, but when you are accused….an apology for your behavior is probably the best response.

  8. creationist1

    this headache thing is getting tiresome….how long can the judge put up with this if true!!

  9. this headache thing is getting tiresome….how long can the judge put up with this if true!!

    Based on earlier reports, it appears they moved on to questioning witnesses (not Coppedge). Unless they delayed Coppedge’s cross-examination, or there is some legal requirement for Coppedge to be in the room when they question other witnesses, I don’t think his headaches are holding the trial up any more.

    IIRC from the Dover transcripts, it is not unusual for there to be half-days and such. Judge Jones referred several times to other things he had to do that caused breaks in the court schedule. Maybe this is an unfair generalization, but the in-court part of trials seems to run on banker’s hours.

  10. Spector567

    Creationist1. Since you are coming back can I ask a quick questions.
    When have the creationist community been proud of a creationist on the stand?
    In Dover the Discovery Institute (DI) abandoned the trial and stuck the school with a $200k bill for there services, and the school board lied under oath.
    In Freshwater he branded kids with a Tesla coil.
    Now with Coppedge he’s crying wolf, and playing the wounded bird in a fairly cut and dry employment lawsuit. JPL probally would have settled for some small amount to avoid the legal costs but since Coppedge has made this a national spectacle they’ve spent a week tearing the guy apart and from the lack of actual trial news from DI it seems like they are doing it successfully.

    Also to be picky. JPL didn’t accuse Coppedge of anything. They simply laid him off and kept more valuable employees. It is Coppedge that has accused that it was because of his religious behavior.

    One thing I noticed about the DI stories…… Notice how they are completely ignoring Coppedges skills? I don’t think they have ever bothered to say anything about them. This is the crux of the case but yet they don’t refute it.

    The simple reality is the JPL didn’t “fire” Coppedge due to his religious or political comments.
    They LAID HIM OFF and kept several more valuable employees that had more needed and up todate skills. I’d wager that many people didn’t have the least bit of problem with him I’d wager they also didn’t state there disagreement. Those that disagreed with him were constantly pushed to the point they made complaints or a fight ensued.

    Coppedge could be a great guy or the most liked person in the office for all it matters, but it doesn’t mean that he was better and more suited than the other employees they kept. This has been JPL’s position and from the comments left by JPL employees on random forums this seems to be the case.

  11. I think Coppedge wants to be a Martyr. It will be his 15 minutes of fame, his name on the list of Expelled!, and could even bring a few speaking engagements in the creationist/ID community. If he could win the case, and pocket a few dollars, all the better, but he can already join the tiny, exclusive club of people who claim to have been Expelled!. It’s sort of like the population of people who claim to have been abducted by UFO’s – there’s always an audience for such stories.

    He’s may already be writing the script for Expelled! Part II, which would explain the little scene included in Becker’s pre-trial filings.

  12. creationist1

    Spector, I am not that familiar with the trials. Perhaps someone has done well on the stand. I am not sure I care, because again I do not think these trials and the people involved represent a lot of creationists. I think a lot of creationist work has not been done well in the past. Even William Jennings Bryan was not a good representative on the stand…for instance as he spoke out against social darwinism during the trial and in the trial transcripts he himself was as racist just as much as the mainstream culture common folk and culture elites were during that time. It is a shame.

  13. retiredsciguy

    Creationist1, I apologize for misinterpreting your comments, and I intended no disrespect for your religious views.

    Religious belief is not a subject that lends itself to argument. However, that does not mean that one cannot ask why people believe as they do, even in the face of overwhelming evidence and reasoned thought to the contrary.

  14. Creationist1: you seem to be the first reasonable creationist we’ve had commenting on this blog. I mean no offense when I ask, but would you explain why you believe as you do? I grew up in a very religious family, but my family never took a stand about the creation story of Genesis. As such I’ve grown to realize it is an attempt of a prescientific culture to grapple with questions of origins and morality. In the modern world full of evidence to the contrary, what is it that you find attractive about the creationist viewpoint?

  15. creationist1

    retired guy and TJW, thanks for your comments. I believe as I do because I am a skeptic at heart. I have been involved in science for 30 years. I am a scientist because I am skeptic and a Christian because I am a skeptic. I consider “being” a Christian more important in some ways than being a creationist but for me they go hand in hand. Aren’t we all creationists to some extent because we believe in a creation story? And aren’t we all materialists to some extent because we live in a material world (sorryMaddona) and aren’t we all evolutionists to an extent because we believe that things change over time. I believe in these things because they make sense of the data around me to a certain extent. more later…

  16. I look forward to the rest. we may have to find another blog though, as we are starting to drift too far of topic.

  17. TJW says: “we may have to find another blog though, as we are starting to drift too far of topic.”

    As long as our creationist visitor doesn’t get preachy or argumentative, no problem.

  18. It’s totally irrelevant to the case at hand how “nice” old Coppy was to other people. Obviously, his character witnesses were not the ones who complained about his behavior. Also, there’s no Complaint Threshold. But, you know, if someone is torqued enough to go to your supervisor about your behavior or, even worse, directly to HR then you’ve got some ‘spaining to do.

    “Hey, the CT is 4.0 and my client was rated at 3.6 so what’s the big deal?”

    Furthermore, it doesn’t matter a whit about Copper’s skill set in terms of a layoff. During a layoff a company has a huge advantage over the employee determining who stays and who goes. However, it appears that JPL went through a rigorously objective process to determine the best set of skills to retain as the Cassini mission entered into a new phase. It appears they needed painters and old Cops was a bricklayer.

    In my experience with Big Oil neither “rigorous” or “objective” would apply. People would just disappear and it seldom made any sense. The most common explanation was “we’re going to phase out that function” which really meant “you guys are going to pick up the slack and you’ll just have to figure out how.” When an entire department got cut it didn’t matter if you were the Top Dog or the Mutt, you’re both gone.

  19. creationist1

    no preaching….only concerned about the propagation of creationists acting badly without some balance, that said there seem to be a fair number of creationists who have acted badly…I must admit that.

  20. retiredsciguy

    Creationist1, your comment, “…and aren’t we all evolutionists to an extent because we believe that things change over time.”, leads me to think that we are working with different definitions of “creationist”. You do not appear to be cut from the same cloth as, say, Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum. Of course, there’s a possibility that some of Ken Ham’s inflexibility in accepting reality may be monetarily driven (as opposed to a matter of theology), given his need to keep the turnstiles spinning with paying customers at his museum. He has a huge investment in his Kentucky Kingdom of Kreationism, and he’s seeking millions more to build his pipe dream Ark Park.

    IMO, the hard-core fundamentalist creationists who insist upon a literal interpretation of the King James Bible are actually working against the acceptance of the teachings of Jesus. Their inflexibility is such a strong polarizing force that they are actually driving rational, thinking people away from the church.

    I could go on, but then that would be preaching, and it’s getting off-topic as well. Besides, this isn’t my blog. If Curmy wants to take the discussion in that direction (which I doubt), he’s a much better writer than I.

  21. aturingtest

    crationist1: “I believe as I do because I am a skeptic at heart.”
    Wouldn’t you agree, though, as a scientist, that skepticism is not a never-ending process of doubt? That a true skeptic allows (only) evidence to lead him to a conclusion? I’ve seen too many conspiracy-theorists, birthers, and, yes, creationists, use skepticism as an excuse to avoid conclusions they don’t like, rather than as a tool to reach the right one (you don’t appear to fit in that category). Their mindset seems to be “I doubt, therefore I am a skeptic.” For them, doubt is the outcome, rather than the method; and evidence is just a detail to feed the doubt, rather than to determine a conclusion.
    If you doubt evolution, and prefer creationism, because of your faith , that’s one thing. But that’s not being a skeptical critic of evolution, because your basis for doubt is not evidence, but a position. From what I’ve seen (admittedly not from your perspective), the creationist conclusion came before the evidence, and so isn’t really the result of evidence, or even “just a different interpretation,” but a necessary rationalization of it- after all, it’s been the same conclusion for 2000 years, before most of the evidence was even seen. Whereas, evolution as a theory is the result of evidence, pure and simple.

  22. Tomato Addict

    Coppedge =?= Wally 🙂

    @c1: I am quite certain there are a great number of people who, like yourself, are capable of holding faith and exercising reason. The nature of the debate tends to leave out people of more moderate/intermediate views, which is unfortunate. Thanks for your comments.

  23. aturing test, theory can be the result of evidence, but there is no theory free from bias….a limit of the fallible human mind….this is what makes me a skeptic, I can only trust that human senses are correct….Christianity says to a certain extent that I can trust those senses, and it declares the universe to be a reality…..this serves as a basis for science as it did for so many scientist of the scientific revolution…C1

  24. Tomato, I think you have deduced what I am trying to say….I am sure there are those at JPL and in the NASA and ESA who are people of faith and creationist, yet they are respectful of others and the views of others and go about their work quietly and efficiently…
    (I do know some of these folks, I am sure that this trial does them no favors).

  25. BTW, I am not at JPL but live nearby and know some who work there…

  26. creationist1

    I forgot my tag name on the last few posts…this has been C1 speaking as anonymous

  27. creationist1

    Although people of faith may have been “expelled” from academic science venues, I think that this is the exception rather than the rule… andfor Christians to portray themselves as victims goes against everything I have been taught as to how a person of faith should act. I might go so far as to say it is non-Christian to portray oneself in this way

  28. Although people of faith may have been “expelled” from academic science venues,

    Name one.

  29. creationist1

    Not sure. I don’t follow who gets expelled or whether it is legit. One might be Forest Mims an accomplished scientist ..he was apparently let go from Scientific American. I have no way to know how to verify this.

  30. Then you get no points for Forest Mims. Even a simple Google search documents that he was not “let go” from Scientific American, a magazine, by the way, and not an “academic scientific venue.”

    You made the statement, you back it up. Go!

  31. aturingtest

    C1: “theory can be the result of evidence, but there is no theory free from bias….a limit of the fallible human mind….”
    The point of science, though, and true skepticism, is to eliminate, as much as possible, errant conclusions based on those biases- to reason from the evidence alone. To say, as you seem to be above (I apologize if I’m misreading you), that being a skeptic means putting more doubt than faith in human senses, seems to me to skate pretty close to a useless, solipsistic basis for evaluating evidence. That assumption, that our senses do indeed pretty much reflect reality, is the only assumption necessary to science- compare that to the assumptions necessary to “Christian Skepticism,” which seems to rely primarily on the just the opposite, totally unevidenced assumption.

  32. C1: “theory can be the result of evidence, but there is no theory free from bias….a limit of the fallible human mind….”

    This is a common creationist trope or as I’m apt to say, tripe.

    Again, C1, you made this assertion. Prove it. Back it up.

    How about the theory associated with the properties of gases at equilibrium, typified by the old Ideal Gas Law: PV=nRT. Nice, simple first approximation. Not to many scientists I know are partial to pressure. (Get it? Partial to pressure? Never mind.) So, where’s the bias limited by the fallible human mind? Oh, “ideal?” OK, well, we can modify the function using statistical mechanics or properties derived from real gasses both of which give a tighter agreement with experimental observation.

    Sorry, but I fail to see the bias. Even my cat could make pressure and temperature measurements and get the same results.

    Now, I suppose we could add some bias to the equation this way:

    PV = nRT + DI

    Where “DI” represents “Demonic Influence.” That term would vary according to the Demon’s whim and possibly compensate for real gas deviation from ideal, or not. Or it might just turn all the gas into green soup on Tuesdays. That would be really cool, but biased.

  33. Spector567

    Creationist1 you mentioned before how you don’t like propaganda. Have you considered the so called “expelling” was more of that propaganda? As you said you cannot recall specifics and even the specifics you can recall have largely been debunked.

    Don’t get me wrong I’m sure creationists are not well respected in science circles. However I’m also sure that most have not the made the separation between science and there faith. I’m also sure that most creationists actively insult the work and toil of most scientific research. From that perspective why would many creationist ever join the scientific fields. The lack of representation and advancement of creationists in the scientific fields probably has more to do with demographics than any bit of expelling.

  34. creationist1

    Doc Bill,
    You demonstrate well the prinicple of cause and effect in science regarding measuring pressure using gas laws….these laws assume that effects have causes but this is also an assumption of science …can you prove that the gas laws will work tomorrow or can you show how the first molecule exterted pressure on a surface? These questions related to this theory or law are open to our bias because we must ultimately guess how the first molecule came to be etc…and scientists disagree about the origin of molecules..again showing that there is disagreement and therefore bias in science.

  35. Well, you see C1, what you wrote is considered a Paragraph of Ignorance seasoned heavily with Stupidity. There’s no kind way of putting it.

    But, old Doc Bill is going to help you out. First, spend 4 years and get yourself a degree in chemistry. Then spend another 6 years in graduate school and I’d recommend specializing in physical chemistry. Then look me up in 2022 and we’ll review this conversation.

    You know, this is the sort of tripe old Coppedge spewed out on a regular basis. You’ve become annoying, C1, after a single afternoon. Can you imagine what it was like to work with Coppers for 10 years?

  36. creationist1

    thanks for your help Bill.

  37. creationist1

    have you heard of “observer bias” in chemistry….it was part of my science education…

  38. Rubble says: “Apparently the trial is winding up”

    So it seems. I’ll have something to say about it. Maybe this evening.

  39. creationist1

    Thanks SC your site is helpful. C1

  40. Nice puppy dog look, C1.

    OK, here’s a hint to your proof. You answer this question.

    How does the cosmic microwave background radiation “temperature” support my point and destroy yours?


    Bonus Science fact: the atoms in your left hand came from a different star than the atoms in your right hand. Cool, huh?

  41. creationist1

    you prove my point, recent analysis of the CMB show that assumptions that the big-bang inflation wiped out any evidence of what happened before it were wrong….this may have in fact biased scientists against looking for something…..just like the bias in favor of spontaneous generation influenced how scientists thought about the origin of life for centuries. Bias is a fact of science.
    In an unpublished paper submitted to the arXiv preprint service, world-renowned Oxford University physicist Roger Penrose and co-author Vahe Gurzadyan from the Yerevan Physics Institute in Armenia have announced a pattern in the CMBR that could reveal events that occurred before the Big Bang.

  42. No, C1, you are incorrect and simply spouting creationist boilerplate BS. You have no interest in learning anything.

    Ah, so C1 you are a troll. Unmasked!

    Your time here is limited. So, Doc Bill says many Anglo-Saxon words in your direction all of which are in derision.

    Yeah, blah, blah, blah for you.

    Curmudgeon, pull the lever. This one is done.

  43. Doc Bill says: “Curmudgeon, pull the lever. This one is done.”

    As you wish.

  44. SC said:

    As you wish.

    Ah, and I had such high hopes.

  45. Alas, after 30 years of following creationists the pattern is always the same.

    1. Hey, I’d like to learn about evolution!
    2. Lots of discussion and good information.
    3. What about the framastat protein in the finkle fish protein sequence that could only be created by a 5 by 9 homologous mutation of the HOX gene number 25 and how do you resolve that?
    4. F. U.

    Never fails.

    Creationists always lie. Creationist never want to learn anything. When in doubt go back to creationists lie. They all lie. They lie to themselves. They lie to us.

    Imagine working with a guy like Coppedge who lied all the time. You’d never know what to believe which I suspect led to many of his problems. Pathological liar.

  46. Tomato Addict

    OK … so c1 didn’t turn out to be the intermediate he seemed to be at first. In my first encounter with Creationists online I ended up befriending a nice man. We disagreed, but we were able to talk rationally about why we disagreed, and the meaning of science. Perhaps he wasn’t a very good Creationist, but I hold hope there are more like him.

  47. Nope, Tomato old fruit, all creationists lie. They are all bad people.

  48. aturingtest

    Doc Bill: “3. What about the framastat protein in the finkle fish protein sequence that could only be created by a 5 by 9 homologous mutation of the HOX gene number 25 and how do you resolve that?”
    Ummm… goddidit, right?

  49. Tomato Addict

    Perhaps I see the world through tomato-colored glasses, but I think it’s possible for good people to disagree. We are here because we think we need to fight for real science education and the cause of enlightenment. There is a lot to fight about, but sometimes a quiet conversation can be far more persuasive than all the shouting we can muster. Unfortunately, shouting is easier, but I fear it doesn’t make much progress.

    That said, you were right about c1 being a troll.

  50. Retired Prof

    Doc Bill, for rhetorical purposes it’s a good idea to quell the human impulse to attribute evil to everyone on the other side of a tribal divide, especially considering that your readers belong to complex webs of overlapping tribes. Most of my relatives are creationists, and when you say “They are all bad people,” I feel a great surge of loyalty to them, which arouses a twinge of hostility to you even though we belong to the same intellectual tribe.

  51. Retired Prof says: “a twinge of hostility”

    I’m sure he’s referring to professional creationists and trolls, not everyday folks.

  52. As usual, our Curmie is the voice of reason and moderation. I have good friends who are devout Mormons and I probably have friends who are transvestites, but I don’t dwell on the details. Socially it’s not important. It’s only when they start messing with science education that I get involved.

    However, all of the denizens of the Disco Tute are bad people, and all their fellows; not so jolly, they. Same for AIG, ICR, the Hovind coven and I’ll throw in the entire Southern Baptist Convention just for fun. As for the stupid little twerps and lying morons who haunt the various science and news sites, I hunt them for sport and the Arrow of Politeness is not in my quiver.

  53. The interesting thing to me is how creationists, like our friend c1, will argue “science once thought x, now thinks y,” which to them means science is arbitrary or cannot be trusted. C1 attributes this to bias in the past preventing scientists from learning what they are just learning, which is a bit bazaar – sure, a well established theory or idea takes more than a casual attempt to unseat it, but it’s hardly a “bias”.

    The reason we know what we do today, imperfect as it might be, is because scientists were never satisfied with what they thought they knew yesterday. The bias in science, if one can call it that, is to poke and prod at cherished ideas, dig into unexplained gray areas, and seek to expand our knowledge of the natural world, often at the expense of older understandings. Science gives out major prizes to just such achievements.

    On the other hand, I’ve never heard a creationist expand upon how creationism continues to question itself, to investigate it’s most cherished assumptions, and expand it’s knowledge of how creation occurred and the supernatural world in general. The bias in creationism is the opposite, to hold as an unquestioned TRVTH that god created the universe and everything in it, and to squelch and criticize any effort to examine that TRVTH. Any honest investigation of that TRVTH is heresy. The bias in creationism is to resist change, while in science it is to create change.

    The flaws c1 sees in science are, in fact, it’s virtues.

    The next time someone like c1 pops up with a challenge like his CMB response, the right answer is.. “Isn’t that so cool? Hey, what’s going on with creationism lately. Any new work being done to dig deeper into that hypothesis?”