The Discoveroids’ Annual Kitzmas Rant — 2013

In our annual Kitzmas post (Intellectual Free-Fire Zone for Kitzmas 2013) we said:

To increase our merriment, every year around this time the Discoveroids post an exceedingly bitter diatribe blasting the Kitzmiller decision, Judge Jones, and the witnesses on the winning side. Such posts are usually written by either Casey or Westie.

As predicted, Casey has come through to make the holiday complete. His anti-Kitzmas rant is Celebrate Kitzmas Christmas with Discovering Intelligent Design.

Typical of creationists, Casey sees things only from his side, ignoring all the evidence presented by his opposition. It’s a good example of that peculiar psychological mechanism known as Morton’s demon, described by its discoverer like this:

Morton’s demon was a demon who sat at the gate of my sensory input apparatus and if and when he saw supportive evidence coming in, he opened the gate. But if he saw contradictory data coming in, he closed the gate. In this way, the demon allowed me to believe that I was right and to avoid any nasty contradictory data.

For the typical, walking-around creationist, flat-Earther, UFO probe enthusiast, or other goofball cultist, Morton’s demon may allow him to pursue something that appears to be a normal life. The person affected, despite his delusions, may never know that he has failed to live a truly human existence. But there are aspects of life where Morton’s demon must be inevitably lead to disastrous consequences, and one of them is undoubtedly litigation. Try to imagine the career of a trial lawyer who always goes to court oblivious to his opponent’s side of the case.

That’s how we imagine it would be for Casey. Even now, eight years after the Kitzmiller case ended, Casey still sees only the creationist arguments, and he appears to be genuinely astounded that the judge ruled as he did. He’s like one of those Japanese soldiers that were sometimes found in the jungles of remote Pacific islands, decades after the war ended, unwilling to admit defeat. There’s a Wikipedia article on the phenomenon: Japanese holdout. That’s how we think of Casey, but it’s not military zeal or fanatical patriotism that motivates him — it’s an advanced case of Morton’s demon.

Because we find this phenomenon to be so bizarre, your Curmudgeon is pleased to guide you through Casey’s latest essay on the subject. Our excerpts will be enhanced by some bold font which we added for emphasis. His post starts with an “Author’s note,” in which he says:

This ruling is a model of why we don’t want judges ruling on complicated scientific and social questions — they often get things badly wrong, and succumb to the temptation to attempt to settle age-old debates within science and religion, something the government isn’t supposed to do.

Casey has conveniently obscured the central issue in the case, an issue which definitely is a judge’s function under the US Constitution — resolving disputes about the appropriate role of government in religion. For that purpose it was absolutely essential for Judge Jones to determine the nature of intelligent design. Was it science, as its proponents always claim, or was it merely religion in disguise? Casey then declares:

Federal district court Judge John E. Jones III decided to use the lawsuit as an occasion to rule on the scientific status of ID, concluding that “ID is an interesting theological argument, but… not science.” He felt it was his place to define science, declaring that it must be “based upon natural explanations.”

Got that? In Casey’s universe, Jones woke up one morning and decided, for no reason at all, that he would run amok and make a ruling on that topic. Perhaps Casey should read the decision without wearing blinders. If he misplaced his copy, the full text is here.

Page 9 mentions that the parties agreed — are you listening, Casey? — it was agreed that the Lemon case was to be used in deciding whether teaching ID is unconstitutional. That required Judge Jones to make the analysis which appears in his opinion.

The Lemon case is the current standard for courts to use when determining if a state action (that includes the actions of local school boards) violates the First Amendment. The decision is here: Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971). In that case, the US Supreme Court tried to bring some order out of the chaotic mess of earlier Establishment Clause cases, saying:

Every analysis in this area must begin with consideration of the cumulative criteria developed by the Court over many years. Three such tests may be gleaned from our cases.

Those three tests which the Supreme Court “gleaned” from earlier cases are now collectively referred to as Lemon test, which has three “prongs.” A state action (like a school board’s pro-ID policy) must pass through those prongs in order to survive a First Amendment challenge. They are: (1) the statute (or school board policy, or any state action) must have a secular legislative purpose; (2) its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion; and (3) the statute must not foster “an excessive government entanglement with religion.” (Those quote marks are in the Lemon opinion, because that language was taken from an earlier case.)

If a state action violates any one of the three prongs of the Lemon test, then it’s in violation of the First Amendment. That’s why the judge decided the question of whether ID is science or religion. It wasn’t a whim, it was his job — the whole case centered on the nature of intelligent design. Okay, let’s get back to Casey’s rant:

Since that trial, materialists have been proclaiming that the ID debate is over because a federal judge decided that it’s a religious concept, not a scientific one. But judges are not inerrant. In fact, the Kitzmiller v. Dover ruling contains many factual and legal mistakes. Judge Jones’s errors include: [long list of alleged errors].

We’ve dealt with all of that in prior posts — see, for example, Casey and Kitzmiller — the Case He “Forgot”. Casey just can’t accept reality. His rant continues:

A court ruling cannot negate the scientific evidence pointing to intelligent design. Rather than showing that ID is not science, the Kitzmiller v. Dover decision shows that scientific and academic freedom in this country are at risk.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Here’s more:

Judge Jones stated in his ruling that ID is a religious concept, in part because “Professors Behe and Minnich admitted their personal view is that the designer is God.” Is that a valid objection?

That was a tiny part of the opinion. Casey conveniently (or compulsively?) overlooks the mountains of other evidence the judge considered. We discussed a small part of it in Kitzmiller v. Dover: Who is the Intelligent Designer? There’s no shortcut, however; one needs to actually read the decision in order to grasp how overwhelming the evidence was. Moving along, Casey agrues:

If religious motives or beliefs are sufficient reasons to dismiss scientific theories, then many of the foundational figures of modern science would have to be erased from the record.

Yeah, yeah — Isaac Newton and all those guys before Darwin. But Casey fails to grasp that Newton’s scientific work wasn’t religious in nature. That’s in contrast to intelligent design, which is nothing but religious. Another excerpt:

ID and neo-Darwinian evolution are both scientific theories that can have larger philosophical or religious implications. But the fact that they may have implications for or against theism does not disqualify either of them from being scientific.

That’s true, but what disqualifies ID isn’t its implications. Rather, it’s the fact that it has no evidence, no tests, no research, and no comprehensible theory. Aside from a few things like that, it’s rock solid. Here’s the end of the rant:

Science should be an empirically based search for truth. If ID critics want to harp upon the religious beliefs and motives of ID proponents, then they should be forewarned that the argument cuts both ways. Scientists, whatever their personal beliefs, should have every right to express their views. Their personal religious or anti-religious views are irrelevant as long as they are making sound scientific claims.

Nice going, Casey. We look forward to your next Kitzmas rant.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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26 responses to “The Discoveroids’ Annual Kitzmas Rant — 2013

  1. I see that Casey has something right. He has a heading “IT’S NOT OVER BECAUSE OF DOVER”. He’s right about that. It’s over because ID is bull$h*t. Dover is merely a symptom.

  2. “judges ruling on complicated scientific …. questions”
    What’s complicated about Goddidid?

    “He felt it was his place to define science”
    Eh no. That definition, though not entirely satisfactory, has been given by Karl Popper a few decades ago. Goddidid in any form definitely is not science. It’s religion. Because of god.

    “Newton’s scientific work wasn’t religious in nature”
    That’s historically not entirely correct, but the religious aspects all have been removed since he wrote his famous book.

    “what disqualifies ID isn’t its implications”
    What disqualifies ID as science in the first place is Goddidid and calling God an unspecified Intelligent Designer doesn’t change this a bit. The IDiots notably admit this themselves in their Wedge Document, which rejects methodological naturalism aka the scientific method straightaway. I’m pretty sure this didn’t escape Judge Jones’ attention.

    “Science should be an empirically based search for truth.”
    Slightly depending on the meaning of truth I agree. So I compare:

    “The Center explores how new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature.”
    Exactly what the scientific method does not. Judge Jones definitely wasn’t the fool Casey assumes he was.

  3. To me, here’s the interesting part. The Discoveroids disagreed that the endorsement test should not have been used in this case. The reason, they said, was that it had not been used in either the Epperson or the Edwards cases. Strange that Judge Jones had to point out that, of course, those cases had not had the endorsement test applied because they occurred before the endorsement test had been created. I love how the IDers keep getting their dates all mixed up. “Hey, let’s use Newton as an example of ID against evolution, even though evolution had not yet been discovered!”

  4. Ahh yes, it just wouldn’t be Kitzmastide without a visit from Casey Claus and his sack of–…, well, it ain’t a sack of presents.

    But I have to disagree with our Curmudgeon when he asserts

    intelligent design, which is nothing but religious

    My quibble with that statement is that intelligent design, IMHO, is far less about religion than it is a political movement–and an especially egregious political movement at that.

    Evidence for this (in addition to the stated aims of the Wedgie document) is their maintenance of a ‘big tent’ approach to garnering support, e.g., Casey is on record as an OEC, Klingy is Jewish, none of the DI fellows have ever disavowed the insane YEC ravings of Ole Hambo or, for the matter, the lunacy of Islamist creationists, &c &c. And why should this be so? Because the whole lot of them, whatever their ‘religious’ differences, are solidly agreed on the principles of theocracy, and are chiefly interested in ‘religion’ not as an intellectual framework for understanding the world, but as a political mechanism for securing power.

  5. @Megalonyx with whom I agree.
    But I wonder what would happen in the next ID case, if the evolution-deniers would base their case on ID being political (or social), not religious, and therefore the 1st amendment argument is irrelevant?

  6. @Megalonyx

    The political and religious parts of ID are intertwined to the point they are one and they same, end result they want theocracy.

  7. TomS, an astute hypothetical judge in the hypothetical case you bring up would rule that a statute mandating ID in science courses would violate prong three: “the statute must not foster ‘an excessive government entanglement with religion.’” ID is political/social, all right, but its basis is fraught with religion that can’t be disentwined.

  8. Hah! Quick typing, anevilmeme–and more concise than my comment besides. A hat tip to you.

  9. @TomS:

    What the more optimistic readers don’t seem to get is that it is immoral to teach what the anti-evolution activists demand in any class, science or otherwise, public or private, especially religious classes that preach “thou shalt not bear false witness” which is the height of hypocrisy.

    The scam, especially in it’s post ID incarnation (“strengths and weaknesses,” academic “freedom”) may always have a “genetic link” to Biblical creationism, but they only need to convince a science-illiterate judge with an incorrigible authoritarian or postmodern worldview that they’ve sufficiently “speciated,” and they will get to mislead students at taxpayers’ expense. Conceivably the judge could even be nonreligious, though that’s unlikely given current demographics.

    Moreover, even if the scam artists keep losing in the courts, that’s just the “supply” battle. IMO they are still winning the battle of “demand” as long as a majority (60-75% depending on how you word the question) that thinks they deserve to have their scam taught at taxpayer’s expense. But almost none of that majority are aware of how those activists knowingly and willingly mislead, censor the refutations, then have the audacity to accuse us of censorship. Most of those who don’t buy the scam artists’ propaganda still say “what’s the harm, let them believe.” Such people will keep letting unqualified people with radical anti-science agendas populate public offices (school board members, judges, legislators)

  10. Ceteris Paribus

    Casey proclaims: “Science should be an empirically based search for truth.”

    The writers of the fictional character Superman knew more about science than Casey. Superman’s mission was “The never ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way.” [bold added]

    Francis Bacon at the beginning of modern science 500 years ago, argued one of the attributes of what we now call science is that the search for truth is never ending.

    Casey deletes the never ending search, and inserts his version of the biblical, eternal Truth™ .

  11. What anvilmeme said, +1.

  12. I still wonder if Casey is an idiot because he’s a pathological liar, or a pathological liar because he’s an idiot. He is certainly damaged goods by now after working as a professional propagandist, liar and plagiarist for over 10 years. I suspect he simply doesn’t have the mental capacity to live a straight life. Oddly, and I mean really, really oddly, each of the Discoveroids exhibits a different sociopathic condition, which if they ever decided to use their strengths, could be a source of study by medical school psychiatry students. They could hire themselves out for study!

    But, to the subject at hand. In spite of the FACT that both sides in Dover asked the Judge Jones to rule on ID as science, Casey still whines as if that was some unexpected outcome. Furthermore, Casey and the Disco Tute have no standing in this. None. They bailed from the case just before it went to trial. All the “expert” witnesses, except the hapless, clueless Behe, cut and run.

    Meyer cut and ran.
    Dembski cut and ran.
    Luskin cut and ran.

    Face it, Tooters cut and run. (Apologies for unpleasant visual at Christmastime!)

    And, I’m not done with Casey, yet. Crawl, don’t run, to Amazon and check out Luskins opus crappus that he’s hawking to homeschoolers. On the very first page Luskin warns that his “textbook” is not suitable for public schools. No duh! First of all, it’s written by three people with no relevant science background and no accreditation in education.

    I was interested in the chapter on metamorphosis because there was an unattributed quotation right in the middle. I Googled the quote and, lo and behold, it took me to an Australian biologist’s blog on the subject of butterfly metamorphosis. Then the fun began. Luskin’s chapter paralleled the blog entry line by line, some sentences changed by only a word or two. I counted 15 direct points of similarity in both order of presentation, sentence structure and word use.

    Definitely lifted with no citation. There’s a word for that … escapes me at the moment.

    Finally, the biologist ends his piece with a nice summary of research into the evolution of metamorphosis which Luskin neatly avoids altogether. I guess he ran out of room. No other explanation, actually.

    Yeah, that would be the case except that Luskin ends his chapter with the conclusion that the evolution of metamorphosis is a complete mystery and science hasn’t the foggiest clue how it came about.

    Praise the Designer.

  13. Our anevilmeme succinctly points out

    The political and religious parts of ID are intertwined to the point they are one and they same, end result they want theocracy.

    Agreed–and well put.

    My own point was not stated clearly, so I’ll have another stab at it. If ID were exclusively about ‘religion’, I’d be content–on the grounds I could happily ignore it, in the way one ignores astrology, or any other form of oogity-boogity. I may think it odd or even lamentable that some folks choose to believe what is demonstrable nonsense, but hey, it’s none of my business, believe as you will. There’s no issue with beliefs by themselves, only with actions which may arise from some beliefs.

    So: I find Ken Ham’s published beliefs astoundingly idiotic, but that’s not my objection to him: it’s his fleecing of the gullible that is unpardonable. And I find the Discoveroids vastly more objectionable than the YEC crazies, not because of their ‘beliefs’, but because of their political agenda. But as several have pointed out, their theocratic aims are precisely a compound of religious and political notions that the two cannot be meaningfully teased apart.

    People who believe in astrology may be foolish but can mostly be ignored (although it was a tad frightening to me that the Reagans used to consult Joan Quigley–but that’s another story!). But here’s a thought: if one wanted to give an analogy for the DI, imagine something like a hypothetical Uranus Institute that claimed sound ‘scientific’ basis for astrology, that human history was best explained, not by political or economic variables, but by the horoscopes of world leaders. Further imagine them campaigning to ‘teach the controversy’ in High School history lessons, and complaining how they were discriminated against by peer-reviewed history journals and academic historians, and yadda yadda. Such an institute could probably fund itself in much the same way as the DI–and hey, that gives me an idea… 🙂

  14. And lo! The Discoveroids have a fresh post today to accompany their begging bowl: “Bah! Humbug!” How Darwin Stole Christmas… A sample (with my bolding added):

    Okay, so Darwin didn’t really steal Christmas. But by claiming to show that biology is the product of a blind and unintelligent process, he certainly inspired many of today’s atheist activists who are doing their best to debunk faith as well as to censor everyone who disagrees with them. Thanks to Darwin’s legacy, these activists are sure that science proves materialism.

    You and I both know these activists are wrong. Far from proving materialism, recent scientific discoveries reveal ever more incredible layers of intelligent design — from the nanotechnology inside our cells, to the laws of physics that make life possible.

    You couldn’t make these guys up…

  15. @ docbill1351: excellent sleuthing, Sherlock!

    Worth contacting the author of the original piece that may have been resurrected in Luskin’s pusillum opus?

    I can’t quite think of that word for such unattributed quotation, either. Something like, pugilism…priapism….something like that?

  16. Megalonyx offers: “I find Ken Ham’s published beliefs astoundingly idiotic, but that’s not my objection to him: it’s his fleecing of the gullible that is unpardonable.” To which I would add that additionally, lying to children about the nature and findings of science is at least equally unpardonable.
    As sleazy as he is, I don’t think that Ham any more a danger to adult society than any other grifter or carnival barker.

    I personally view the DI in a more sinister light, in that they are working very hard to turn our society into a theocracy.

  17. DocBill,

    Which Luskin book are you talking about? Discovering Intelligent Design?

  18. Yeah, that’s the one. The little creationist tome with a pathetic workbook. Ice floats because – Jesus! It may be the most pathetic piece of junk I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot. It opens with whine, closes with whine and is filled with cheese which is why it’s sitting at 343,000 on Amazon.

  19. So is this is the main book or in the workbook? And do you have a page number for that?

  20. @ Mega,

    Yes, I did contact the biologist (of course I did!) and he was more resigned to having a blog post ripped off by a creationist than anything else. I suspect the rest of the book is ripped off, too, because none of the authors have any kind of science or education background. They couldn’t put together a science teaching syllabus to save their worthless hides. But, alas, that’s typical of the Morally Superior types and who are we poor, flea-bitten peasants to judge. Let he who is without guilt be the first stoned. Cheers!

  21. I think I figured out what Doc Bill meant. I don’t think he’s referring to “Discovering Intelligent Design” at Amazon, but to an excerpt you can download from the DI website.

    The excerpt from Discovering Intelligent Design, about insect metamorphosis: is here: http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?command=download&id=9731 .

    This excerpt quotes, without attribution, an unnamed, uncited source called “one evolutionary entomologist”, who is quoted as saying:

    “…the biggest head-scratcher in evolutionary biology would have to be the origin of the holometabolous insect larva.”

    This is the blog post Luskin plagiarized: http://coo.fieldofscience.com/2009/01/really-abominable-mystery.html

  22. @Diogenes.

    It’s in the book on Amazon, too, starting on page 114, but they’ve pulled the pages from Amazon Look Inside. The Tooters watch these blogs and I’ve commented about this before. It’s not surprising Luskin wants to hide the smoking gun. Not that he’ll get sued, but perhaps blatant plagiarism doesn’t jive with his LAW DEGREE.

    One more point about Luskin and the homeschoolers. These idiots know absolutely nothing about biology, but if you look at that metamorphosis section it’s full of specific, scientific terms relevant to the stages of metamorphosis and insects in general.

  23. docbill1351:”I still wonder if Casey is an idiot because he’s a pathological liar, or a pathological liar because he’s an idiot.”

    Until we can read minds and can find out for sure, my guess is “neither.” I don’t think that any Discoveroid is an idiot, pathological liar, or afflicted with Morton’s Demon. Don’t get me wrong, my guess is that one or more those, particularly Morton’s Demon, applies to many or most peddlers of Biblical creationism, and of course to the mostly clueless evolution-deniers on the street. But once an activist knowingly and willingly joins the DI’s big tent scam, a much simpler explanation is the one Ronald Bailey provided way back in 1997. They peddle what they “know ain’t so” because they fear – as they admit at every opportunity – that the “masses” will not behave properly if they accept evolution.

    It’s scary that I have to emphasize that this is just my own personal speculation, and that I (and Bailey and any who agree with us) could be wrong. But nearly every time I make any speculation on what an evolution-denier might personally believe, someone who apparently thinks they can read minds insists that I’m wrong. Note the bizarre contrast: Fellow “Darwinists” freely admit that they could be wrong about claims of evolution that are almost certainly correct, but rarely if ever do that for the one type of claim (private beliefs of others) that they can’t back up with an arkload of evidence.

  24. waldteufel: “I personally view the DI in a more sinister light, in that they are working very hard to turn our society into a theocracy.”

    I agree, but would add that that’s because DI folks are astutely aware that you can’t create a theocracy by insisting that people believe in a young-earth interpretation, one that most well-read evolution-deniers found absurd even 100 years ago. The YEC of AiG and ICR, and the OEC of RtB were experiments to repackage Genesis literalism into a pseudoscience. But as long as neither had any credible evidence (not without very “creative” mining, defining terms to suit the arguments, and other tricks of pseudoscience), and as long as proponents of YEC and OEC (several variants of each) would never concede that the other made a better case, such Biblical activist groups would never win over more than a minority – whether or not they won any court cases to teach their pseudoscience in public schools.

    So even before the famous 1987 “cdesign proponensists” typo, efforts were well underway to cover-up the fatal flaws and contradictions in (pseudo)scientific creationism. Some groups realized even then that the only way to win over a majority (or large minority if politically active enough) is to keep the “debate” all about bogus “weaknesses” of evolution, and let the audience fill in the blanks with whatever alternative they’re comfortable with. Since most people lack the time or interest to see the fatal flaws and contradictions within “creationism,” it’s easy to win over a big “swing vote” of people who say thinks like “I hear the jury’s still out over evolution” or “I guess something like evolution is true but I hear it has gaps.”

  25. I wonder if it might have an even simpler explanation: joining a club.

    People who volunteer for political campaigns, like joining a club, can get quite wrapped up in their candidate regardless of what that candidate says or stands for. They can’t for the life of them believe how someone could either vote or work for the other guy.

    Looking at the Tooters it seems to me they all suffer from “respect envy.” Which of them got respect coming up through the ranks? Behe’s got a “Kick Me” sign on his door put there by his own department. Dembski’s been bounced from job to job. I suspect Luskin was the runt of his college years, the butt of jokes, and then there’s Klinghoffer who has spent his life cultivating his disagreeableness. Meyer, I doubt left his oil-boom job on his own accord to study philosophy. They’re all runts, so they formed a Runt Club. They found out they could live on charity, and so they evolved into this pesky, irritating blow fly.

    Luskin probably isn’t by definition a pathological, although by his writing he has demonstrated he’s a pathetic liar, but it’s his job. Even a tick has a job.

  26. One might bring up the “costly signaling theory”, where to show one’s loyalty to the group, one can signal that by adhering to an obviously absurd belief. It’s an extreme of things like wearing peculiar clothes as a sign of group identity, or speaking in a particular dialect. I’m not going to argue for it, just mention it.