Kansas NGSS Case — Dismissed!

For months we’ve been searching for news of a case in Kansas that we last wrote about a year ago — see Kansas Creationism Case: The State Strikes Back.

This suit was filed in the US District Court’s Topeka office (in Kansas) to bar the state from implementing the evolution-friendly Next Generation Science Standards (the “NGSS”). The creationist plaintiff has the Orwellian name of “Citizens for Objective Public Education, Inc.” (COPE). You can find generalized links to information at the Justia website: COPE et al v. Kansas State Board of Education et al, but you can’t access the court’s docket, which lists what’s been filed, and you can’t read the pleadings without a PACER subscription.

Our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) do have a subscription, and they’re archiving the pleadings here: COPE v. Kansas State BOE. We always like to call your attention to “Exhibit A” attached to the complaint, which starts at page 37. It’s an astounding collection of mind-numbing creationist arguments.

Among the lawyers for the creationist plaintiffs is John Calvert, who made a name for himself during the Kansas evolution hearings back in 2005. Wikipedia lists him among the participants and says that he: “has worked closely with the Discovery Institute in finding constitutionally allowable ways to bring intelligent design and failing there, Teach the Controversy, into public schools.”

But there’s been no news about this case for an entire year! Until today. We just found this story in The Republic of Columbus, Indiana. Their headline is Federal judge dismisses lawsuit alleging science standards for Kansas schools promote atheism.

It’s fortunate that their headline tells the tale, because it’s an Associated Press story and we can’t give you any excerpts. Essentially, the judge ruled that the plaintiff organization has no injuries, so (as we understand it) they had no standing to bring the suit. In due course, the judge’s order will be available and we’ll add that to this post. For now, we just wanted to get a jump on everyone else and post the good news.

ADDENDUM: As expected, NCSE has archived a copy of the judge’s order, which you can read here: Order on Motion to Dismiss. It’s a 37-page pdf file.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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25 responses to “Kansas NGSS Case — Dismissed!

  1. A bit of good news is always welcome!

  2. Almost any news is welcome. The past few days have been really bad. The Discoveroids are boring, Hambo is boring, and nothing else is happening. But then … this! It’s almost like KitzMas!

  3. A timely article. Since one of my clients is preparing to ravage portions of the great state of Florida with drilling rigs positioned there by practitioners of the dark and evil cult of geoscience, one can only hope that Calvert hurries to bring his message of truth and light to the brave defenders of Florida’s progressive educational past before they fall prey to this travesty, created by the energy producers of America.

  4. michaelfugate

    “Objective” science education – my hindquarters.
    I love the way they try to rename secular humanism as “religious” humanism. Maybe they should have included secular in the list of words they needed defined.

    Since they mostly seem to be a bunch of chemists, do they tell their students about the supernatural origin of chemical bonding? Wouldn’t any bond that requires energy to form violate the 2nd law and require intelligence to bring it about?

  5. michaelfugate: “Since they mostly seem to be a bunch of chemists, do they tell their students about the supernatural origin of chemical bonding?”

    Actually, they are opposed to chemical bonding. They hold that all bonding is to be one man to one woman. No exceptions.

  6. Wow, that exhibit A was something else. We really need to add Carol Cleland to the list of creationist quote mines. They actually quote mined a paper of hers that explicitly tells them how they would go about testing their precious “historical science,” and instead of reading it they just quote it out of context and lie about what she says.

    I really thought I was past the point of being surprised by creationist dishonesty, but no, I was wrong. Anyone know how to get in touch with the quote mine project we have a few updates to add

  7. IMO, Appendix A does get one thing right (Heading 4). Presupposing naturalism is arbitrary and wrong. However, it’s not what we really do, because we investigate (and invariably debunk) supernatural claims by scientific means. I argue this in my only professional level philosophy publication, http://scientiasalon.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/the-natural-the-supernatural-and-the-nature-of-science/

  8. @Paul Braterman: A very fine and lucid write-up showing that science does not innately and/or ab initio discount the “supernatural” (whatever that may be).

    My own thinking on the subject has always been that the above claim betrays a confusion regarding what science does and how it does it. In particular, science must first establish whether there is in fact an effect at all before the specifics of its principles, mechanisms, operation and consequences can be investigated. In many cases, the effects are so commonplace that it would be foolish to deny them. In others, for example quantum mechanics or epidemiological studies, they can be far more subtle and/or obscured by reproducibility constraints. During this stage, science says nothing about whether the purported effect is natural or supernatural (or anything else), and so the supernatural isn’t ruled out a priori.

    However, once a real effect has been firmly demonstrated, the focus of science shifts away from delineating the parameters within which it can be detected towards investigating its causes and consequences. It is at this stage that science is required to restrict itself to natural accounts because invoking the supernatural (by definition, something beyond natural law) would be tantamount to declaring explanatory failure. Few scientists would fail to see this tactic for what it is: a fruitless pseudo-explanation.

  9. Paul Braterman says: “we [scientists] investigate (and invariably debunk) supernatural claims by scientific means.”

    Yes, where there’s something that can be investigated. The Vatican has a procedure for investigating claims of contemporary miracles, such as medical cures, when they’re invoked for the purpose of bestowing sainthood on someone. I’ve never looked into their methodology, but from time to time they announce new saints, so they do — at least to their own satisfaction — decide that miracles sometimes occur.

  10. However, some branches of science use a form of adductive reasoning in an attempt to reach a “best explanation” for the cause of past events.

    There is no reason to single out “past events”, as there are many other objects of science which cannot be reproduced in the laboratory or “directly observed” by the experimenter. It is not much of an exaggeration to say that those represent the most interesting and important fields of science.

    From Newton’s extrapolation of the force of gravity and the laws of motion far beyond what could be examined in his day, and only since the mid-20th century could begin to be directly observed by astronauts on the Moon and by rocket probes now to the boundary of the Solar System (that being yet a small fraction of space). To today’s understanding of the behavior of electrons and holes in semiconductors or the behavior of the Earth deeper than the deepest mines and wells in causing tectonics.

  11. Nice scoop! NCSE’s story (with a link to the decision) is here:

  12. The Catholic Church does indeed certify certain events as miracles. The processes by which it arrives at such a decision are lengthy, and they do involve minute examination of evidence, but they also require an assertion of inspiration.

    Some of the methods are actually objective, even empirical. A panel of experts is appointed. Appropriate tests are performed on the materials. This in addition to examining and cross-examining all records and witnesses under oath and separately. All this is done with the instruction that if there is a credible natural cause, it is to be found; further, that for disallowance it is not necessary to establish that there was a natural cause, only that one could be plausibly suggested.

    All very well. It’s a thousand times better than “I saw a miracle cure”. I am even willing to accept that it is honest enough. But it cannot rule out rare or unknown natural effects. Then again, no process could do that.

    The final decision, however, is not made on the evidence. Once the process has gone that far, the Holy Father, in effect, asks God about it, and awaits inspiration. How does he know when God has spoken?

    Beats me. He just does. Sometimes God’s voice comes from the Church as a whole. Sometimes it comes straight away; sometimes nothing for five hundred years.

    But yes, they believe in miracles, and that’s how they go about deciding if there has been one.

  13. michaelfugate

    Until someone actually defines what the supernatural is and what supernatural agents do, then it remains a nonstarter for explaining anything.

    What makes me laugh is that COPE purports that the study of evolution and its presentation as a scientific theory is really a religion because it dares to answer questions to which religion has also provided answers (nothing about the correctness of those answers from a religious perspective).

    Religions provide answers to questions like “Where do we come from?” “What is the nature of life-is it just an occurrence or is it a creation made for a purpose?” “What happens when we die?” “How should life be led from an ethical and moral standpoint or from a standpoint that logically denies the idea of absolute ethical and moral standards?”

    [note: that last question is horribly botched.]

    That religions like Christianity have answered these questions doesn’t make them religious questions or any answer a religious answer. I don’t remember any science course where we covered what our purpose in life is, what happens when we die, or how should one lead his or her life – anyone else cover those topics?

  14. Diogenes Lamp


    Today’s headline: “100 Brains Missing From University of Texas.”

    Creative Challenge?

  15. Diogenes Lamp asks: “Creative Challenge?”

    Nah. No challenge there.

  16. Wow, you weren’t kidding when you said there was nothing going on at AIG.

  17. @Paul Braterman: Okay, I’m popping Tylenol as if they were going extinct just from all of the reading you inspired me to do. And my head still hurts. I’m going to take a gamble that your position can be summed up by the following quote I pulled from Boudry et al’s paper:

    claims of IDC have to be confronted head on, and rejected on scientific grounds, instead of being excluded by fiat on shaky philosophical grounds.

    This is “cutting out the middleman”, as you state, by not simply stating “we will not investigate supernatural claims”, but by stating, “If you have supernatural claims, back it up with the evidence, THEN we’ll take a look”.
    Do I have that right?

  18. Spot on! Boudry and I have corresponded several times. He particularly liked the phrase about cutting out the middleman, and persuaded me to submit to scientiasalon, where Massimo Pugliacci, who disagrees on this, accepted it.

  19. @Paul Braterman: Thanks! And I have to commend you and the others on some excellent, excellent writing! (pause for long, slow, loud clapping!)

  20. Today’s headline: “100 Brains Missing From University of Texas.”
    Creative Challenge?

    The 100 brains were missing from the UT campus in Austin, which is the state capital of Texas. So it would have resonated with more Texans if the news article’s headline were worded:

    Main Title: “100 Brains Gone Missing in Austin”

    Subtitle: “Governor & Lawmakers Left Baffled”

  21. Almost any news is welcome. …The Discoveroids are boring, Hambo is boring, and nothing else is happening.”

    One does wonder just how many court cases the Discoveroids and YECist warriors must lose before they replace the Wedge Document and their strategies with something new. But consider this: When the Special 50th Anniversary Edition of The Genesis Flood (Henry Morris & John Whitcomb Jr., 1962) was published a few years ago, YECs didn’t seem to notice or care that the very same lame “creation science”–and still void of evidence–arguments are still promoted today. Real science books from a half century ago would need massive editing/updating before any original authors still alive would agree to the publication. (Whitcomb is still alive and is still not a scientist. So he never worried much about the science anyway. He always told me that he relied on Morris to keep the science accurate!)

    The only exceptions to the necessarily massive update of old science books would be classic books of a special historical milestone nature where the purpose is to show how “great science” was done and to remind us of the huge impact some book had. For example, obviously, Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life has been republished in its original form as special anniversary editions. Yet, that is exactly how Young Earth Creationists view The Genesis Flood. They consider its appearance in 1962 the launching pad of “modern creation science”. The fact that it is even more laughable now then it was then never crosses their minds. After all, if it did, they wouldn’t remain Young Earth Creationists.

    When Ken Ham had his “peg and plank” ceremony a few months ago to mark the beginning of the Ark Park tourist trap construction, Dr. Whitcomb was Guest-of-Honor and given his own wooden mallet to pound his very own peg into the first beam of the $150 million dollar Ark shrine. His role as a “Founding Father” of his own brand of pseudo-science was duly honored.

    Now I realize just how much I gave up when I left Henry, John, and the gang some forty years ago, leaving behind the lucrative world of “creation science” with all of its perks and honors. Had I stayed, I could have had my own mallet and peg…perhaps useful in making the hole in my head which I need just about as much.

    Ahhh….the memories…

  22. michaelfugate asks, “I don’t remember any science course where we covered what our purpose in life is, what happens when we die, or how should one lead his or her life – anyone else cover those topics?”

    Literal answer — the “What happens when we die?” part of your question must be well-covered in any Forensic Pathology course if we can believe all the CSI programs on TV. How long does it take maggots to get to a certain stage, how long until ambient temperature is reached, etc. helps them determine time of death.

  23. michaelfugate

    RSG – yes in that sense we do cover that question…

  24. I should have said, “Literal, smarta$$ answer.”

  25. …do they tell their students about the supernatural origin of chemical bonding?

    They probably require a signed permission slip from parents before they can cover “suggestive” topics like chemical “bonding.” After all, if junior learned that carbon can….well…..bond (!) with lots of different elements, a valence of 4 could be suggestive of rampant promiscuity! (i.e., bonding with too many “partners”.) And what will happen if those young ones learn that when a monogamous carbon atom bonds with a single oxygen atom in an appropriate one-on-one holy matrimony, the result is a deadly poison! But when carbon bonds with two oxygens in a scandalous three-way, their blissful union forms one of the essential foundations for the plant life which supports our food chain! How can one not see the immorality inherent to organic chemistry!

    Now if that is not bad enough, Ken Ham has announced that the elite “creation scientists” at Answers in Genesis’ research laboratories have discovered that 99.9% of all known poisons are the result of such non-monogamous bonding! So anybody who thinks that a scientific theory doesn’t have moral implications should spend a day at the Creation Museum (It won’t teach them anything, but it will encourage them to stay away from science. After all, it is controlled by an evil, world-wide conspiracy, where entire fields of science–especially biology, geology, physics, astronomy, paleontology–are hopelessly pledged to support lies!)

    Of course, couldn’t the “noble elements” be supportive of an abstinence-only curriculum? After all, they have a virtuous valence of zero. Indeed, the noble gases column of the Periodic Table of the Elements could be likened to a monastic order where all of the elements have taken vows of celibacy and contemplative solitude. The children will not be told that under special conditions–through the fiendish and tortuous efforts of evilutionist scientists of the humanist religion, no doubt!–noble gases have sometimes formed compounds with some of the more slutty elements. Remember that, to YECers, scientific concepts must also be judged by their moral implications, not just their supporting evidence. So they may not want young chemistry pupils to know that those upright, spiritual heroes of the Periodic Table occasionally fall into sin if there’s sufficient temptations. These monks can and do break their virtuous zero-valence vows by going ahead and bonding when there is a lot of pressure to do so. (Literally!)