Archives October 2005

Behe Part 2: Pomo vs. Buzzsaw

Michael Behe’s cross-examination started well. He answered the first four questions with as much confidence and aplomb as when he was answering the planned and rehearsed questions at the direct examination. For the record, those questions were:

  1. How are you?
  2. Professor Behe, do you have a copy of your deposition and expert report up there with you?
  3. And I saw that you had a copy of Pandas, but do you have a copy of Darwin’s Black Box with you?
  4. Professor Behe, there are many many peer-reviewed articles regarding the Big Bang theory, correct?

After that, it was all downhill.

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Behe: the Bore Before the Storm

Call me a wonk if you like, but I actually slogged through the Dover trial transcripts for Michael Behe’s testimony. I do hope you appreciate, gentle readers, the sacrifices I make for you.

The nutshell version: Is Intelligent Design science that should be taught in school? It depends on what your definition of “is” is.

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The Worst Jobs in Science

Popular Science has an article listing the ten worst jobs in science.

#7 is Semen Washer.
#3 is Kansas Biology Teacher.

Thanks to JF for the tip.

Creationism After Dover

As I wrote elsewhere, it looks as though the question is not whether the Intelligent Design Creationists will lose the Dover case, but how badly. But I don’t imagine for a moment that they’ll just throw up their hands and give up. So the question is, what’ll they do next?

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Dover Trial QOTD

From the Dover Intelligent Design trial, in Beth Eveland’s examination in day 3:

Q. Do you have it in front of you?

A. Yes, I do.

Q. And can you tell us what it is?

A. It looks to me to be a copy of a letter to the editor that I wrote.

Q. And I’m going to ask you to read this letter into the record.

A. Okay.

MR. MUISE: Objection, Your Honor. This letter is hearsay.

THE COURT: Say it again. I’m sorry.

MR. MUISE: Objection, hearsay.

THE COURT: Why is it hearsay?

MR. MUISE: She’s going to be reading in the letter, the contents of the statement. It’s an out-of-court statement. They’re obviously offering it for the truth of the matter.

THE COURT: Who wrote the letter?

MR. MUISE: She wrote the letter.

THE COURT: Overruled.

Stirrers: A Polemic

Who the hell decided that it was a good idea to stir coffee with a midget straw? And why do people put up with it?

When you prepare a can of tomato soup at home, do you stir it with a straw? When you make coffee at home and add sugar, do you reach for a chopstick? When you go canoeing, do you bring a mop handle for propulsion?

The purpose of stirring is to get everything in the coffee all mixed up, so that sugar molecules have a good chance of running into water molecules and bind to them in an orgy of hot brownian motion. And the best way to do that is to use a broad instrument that a) can shove a lot of molecules at once, and b) can set up secondary whorls and whatnot. About the worst thing you could choose would be a small, hydrodynamic object that won’t disturb the molecules much. And that’s exactly what the coffee “stirrers” provided at many coffee shops and convenience stores do.

So I’m going to issue a call to revolution. A minor one, but hopefully an effective one, fully in line with both Martin Luther King, Jr.’s nonviolent civil disobedience, and free market capitalist forces. The next time you get coffee at a coffee shop, bookstore, a 7-Eleven, or even, God forbid, Starbucks, use a spoon. If they don’t have any, ask for one. If they won’t give you one, ask them to rectify this lapse in customer service. I call upon our tea-, cocoa-, and other hot beverage-drinking brethren and sistren to join us in this glorious fight against the forces of corporate repression.

And once the running dogs of stirrerism have been sent packing, we can undertake the next item on our manifesto: real ceramic mugs for “eat in” orders.

Michael Behe Gets His Ass Handed to Him

Michael Behe, a professor at Lehigh University, and one of the leading proponents of Intelligent Design, has been on the witness stand in the Dover ID trial. And it looks as though he had his ass handed to him.

The York Daily Record writes:

In his writings supporting intelligent design, Michael Behe, a Lehigh University biochemistry professor and author of “Darwin’s Black Box,” said that “intelligent design theory focuses exclusively on proposed mechanisms of how complex biological structures arose.”

But during cross examination Tuesday, when plaintiffs’ attorney Eric Rothschild asked Behe to identify those mechanisms, he couldn’t.

I think what this really boils down to is “ID is the answer, but only if you ask the question in a very specific manner”, and the lawyer isn’t playing along and asking the correct questions.

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Political Brand Names

Paul Waldman has an interesting article in the American Prospect.

This view is embodied in what political scientists call the “median voter theory,” which posits that political success belongs to the party that positions itself closest to the voter who lies in the precise middle of the ideological spectrum. But who is the actual median voter in America? At this moment in history, that voter is pro-choice, wants to increase the minimum wage, favors strong environmental protections, likes gun control, thinks corporations have too much power and that the rich get away with not paying their fair share in taxes, believes the Iraq War was a mistake, wants a foreign policy centered on diplomacy and strong alliances, and favors civil unions for gays and lesbians. Yet despite all this, those voters identify themselves as “moderate.”

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