The silly series of posts from the Discovery Institute that we first wrote about in Discovery Institute Prepares for Kitzmas is continuing.
They promise us ten posts in which they attempt to discredit the legitimacy and significance of the decision on 20 December 2005 by Judge John E. Jones III in the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. On that day we celebrate Kitzmas, and — if the Discoveroid series continues — they will contribute to the merriment by posting their #1 reason why the Kitzmiller decision is of no importance whatsoever.
The latest is Ten Myths About Dover: #8, Michael Behe Admitted that ID Is No More Scientific than Astrology. Like the earlier entries in the series, it was written by Sarah Chaffee, a new Discoveroid staffer who is neither a biologist nor a lawyer.
In this one, Sarah attempts to rehabilitate the testimony of Michael Behe, a Discovery Institute Senior Fellow. He’s also a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University. His colleagues at Lehigh are so impressed by his brilliance that they publicly disassociated themselves from him by issuing this statement: Department Position on Evolution and “Intelligent Design”.
Let’s get started. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
In the Dover ruling, Judge Jones said this: “Professor Behe admitted that his broadened definition of science, which encompasses ID, would also embrace astrology.” This “admission” is in fact a gross distortion of what Behe said. Did Behe really concede that ID is no more scientific than astrology? No.
Sarah then quotes some sane people who disagree with her, after which she says:
Actually, the incident in question involved only Dr. Behe — Dr. Minnich [another Discoveroid witness] was never asked about “astrology.”
So what? Behe was only one of the expert witnesses on behalf of intelligent design. They weren’t all asked identical questions. Sarah tells us:
In the Dover ruling, Judge Jones cited Behe’s definition of science, claiming that it shows Behe’s “mission … to change the ground rules of science to allow supernatural causation of the natural world.” So what was Behe’s definition of science that was supposedly so extreme and dangerous?
She gives us what she says is a quote from Behe’s direct testimony, which doesn’t mention astrology. Then:
It was the plaintiffs’ attorney, not Behe, who decided to bring astrology into the conversation. When pressed about astrology by the opposing attorney, Behe went on to explain:
[Sarah quotes Behe’s response:] There are many things throughout the history of science which we now think to be incorrect which nonetheless would fit that — which would fit that definition. Yes, astrology is in fact one, and so is the ether theory of the propagation of light, and many other — many other theories as well.
Behe said a lot more than that. He was on the stand for three days. And although Sarah seems not to think so, what he said on cross-examination is just as much his testimony as what he said on direct.
Our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) have an archive of Behe’s testimony. So we went there and searched for “astrology.” His testimony is in six pdf files. [*Curmudgeon searches*] Behe’s first day, morning — nothing. Behe’s first day, afternoon — nothing. Behe’s second day, morning — nothing. Behe’s second day, afternoon — aha! Here it is. He’s being cross-examined, and we put some of it in bold font:
Q Under that same definition astrology is a scientific theory under your definition, correct?
A Under my definition, a scientific theory is a proposed explanation which focuses or points to physical, observable data and logical inferences. There are many things throughout the history of science which we now think to be incorrect which nonetheless would fit that — which would fit that definition. Yes, astrology is in fact one, and so is the ether theory of the propagation of light, and many other — many other theories as well.
Q The ether theory of light has been discarded, correct?
A That is correct.
Q But you are clear, under your definition, the definition that sweeps in intelligent design, astrology is also a scientific theory, correct?
A Yes, that s correct. And let me explain under my definition of the word “theory,” it is — a sense of the word “theory” does not include the theory being true, it means a proposition based on physical evidence to explain some facts by logical inferences.
It goes on like that for pages and it’s certainly fun reading. Note that what Behe calls a “theory” doesn’t even rise to the level of what we would call an hypothesis. His definition doesn’t mention the concept of testability. (How else could he consider intelligent design to be a theory?) Also, contrary to the implication in Sarah’s post, Behe wasn’t ambushed at the trial by the astrology question. He knew it was coming because had been asked about it earlier in his deposition, and while he was testifying on the stand there were references to what he had previously said in the transcript of that deposition.
Okay, back to the Discoveroid post: Sarah claims that it’s a fallacy to criticize Behe for what he said about astrology. We’ll skip her discussion of what’s fallacious. Then she tells us:
Needless to say, Behe and all ID scientists reject astrology. What ID’s critics fail to acknowledge is that five hundred years ago, the scientific “consensus” would have claimed (erroneously) that astrology meets the U.S. National Academy of Science’s definition of a scientific theory: “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, and tested hypotheses.”
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Five hundred years ago, science as we know it didn’t exist. Aside from that, astrology was never a tested hypothesis. Nor is intelligent design, by the way.
And now we come to the end of Sarah’s post:
The problem with astrology is not that it could have fit the NAS’s definition of a scientific theory, or Michael Behe’s definition. The problem with astrology is simple: It’s not supported by the evidence. After all, an idea that is “science” or “scientific” can still be flatly wrong.
Sarah might give some thought to what she just said.
While we’re on the subject of Behe’s testimony, he said a whole lot of other things that were also in Judge Jones’ opinion. We discussed those in some detail in Kitzmiller v. Dover: Michael Behe’s Testimony. He was shredded like a carrot. Even without his remarks about astrology, Behe’s testimony was a disaster for the Discoveroids.
We can’t wait for Sarah’s next post. They just keep getting better.
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