Monday, January 01, 2007

The Derb vs. Dawkins's Doctrinaire

Panda's Thumb is happy that National Review correspondent John Derbyshire is bashing ID again.

Long time readers will recall that I can't stand John Derbyshire. I haven't been to the Corner for a while, but presumably he is still the narcissist that he always was—and still referring to himself in third person:


Hi simple minded Corner people, the Derb here. None of my NR colleagues know anything about science. Neither does the Derb, really, but the Derb knows just enough to be NR's expert on all topics scientific and mathematic. The Derb is wise. The Derb has been to China, so The Derb is also NR's sinophile and expert on all things Asian. The Derb is the most erudite writer on NR, which is why the Derb enjoys writing about the Derb. Maybe later today the Derb will find a math puzzle and its solution on the net. The Derb will post the puzzle here, but post the answer on the Derb's website, so that it appears that the Derb solved the problem.

Posted at 3:24 PM

Having reminded you of that, I regretfully announce that, in this case, I agree with Derbyshire's recent criticism of the ID movement:

Kitzmiller, One Year On. It was just a year ago this month, on December 20, 2005, that U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III delivered his opinion in the case Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District, a crushing blow to the Intelligent Design movement. The ID-ers have not forgiven Judge Jones, and have been smearing and vilifying him ever since. These people can’t do science, but they sure can do ad hominem. Federal marshals actually had to place the judge and his family under guard for a while, so threatening were some of the emails sent to his office by the ID fanatics.

This, by the way, was a judge whose appointment to the case had been greeted with rapture by the ID-ers since he was, as one of them put it: “a good old boy brought up through the conservative ranks… appointed by GW hisself… Unless Judge Jones wants to cut his career off at the knees he isn’t going to rule against the wishes of his political allies.” As it turned out, Judge Jones is a conservative in the right way, the best way: he respects the law, and the plain rules of evidence.

All the depositions and court transcripts in the case are now on the Internet, and very devastating they are to the ID cause. And as devastating as what is there is what is not there — the court testimony of leading ID-er William Dembski, for example. After much pre-trial bluster about how, in an open forum, he would shred the arguments of the “Darwinists,” when he was actually presented with a wonderful public opportunity to do exactly that in the Dover courtroom, Dembski declined to show up! The whole sordid story is told by expert witness Barbara Forrest in the Jan./Feb. 2007 issue of Skeptical Inquirer (not yet online… and I took that quote in the previous paragraph from Ms. Forrest’s article).

I don’t see how anyone can read these transcripts, or Ms. Forrest’s account, without concluding that the whole ID business is riddled with dishonesty. Two of the [pro-ID] defendants in the case were actually discovered to have lied under oath when making their depositions, and were scolded by the judge for it. Lesser degrees of shiftiness, like Dembski’s as noted above, are all over the place. I daresay there are some honest and sincere people pushing the ID agenda; but taken as a whole, it is all a bit shabby and ignoble. Read those transcripts, or just Barbara Forrest’s article, and tell me I’m wrong.

None of that will make much difference to the ID-ers, of course. They will carry on merrily raising funds, organizing conferences, whizzing round the country on their junkets, preaching the True Word to receptive audiences, basking in the adoration of the faithful, collecting their book royalties, and disdaining to do anything as grubbily tedious as actual scientific research — behaving, in short, just as they have for the past several years. The Kitzmiller case does, though, at least advance the day when the rest of us will no longer need to pay any attention to the Intelligent Design buncombe and its shifty promoters.

It's selfish, I know, but I blame Dembski and company for putting me in a position where I am forced to agree with a rather unsavory character like John Derbyshire.

There is, however, one amusing twist to this story. Uber-fundamentalist PZ Myers, whose circle of orthodoxy is microscopic, refuses to praise Derbyshire for writing an anti-ID (movement) article on a national, perhaps the national conservative publication--even though it should represent a windfall for the PT team. Alas, PZ cannot overlook Cindy Crawford's birthmark. No, you must align yourself with Dawkins’s Doctrinaire on all party planks, regardless of how small and how unrelated to science, before you will receive his blessing. Just ask Ken Miller.

Thank you PZ--the world would be far less interesting without you.

What did the Derb write that prevented him from receiving PZ's annointing? Well, the blasphemous phrase was:

As it turned out, Judge Jones is a conservative in the right way, the best way: he respects the law, and the plain rules of evidence.

Clearly the unpardonable viewpoint of a reactionary. Sorry, the Derb, You must be pure as gold before you can worship Dawkins alongside the lidless-eyed PZ. More re-education is called for.

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