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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Anonymity: Its strange rewards

I do not usually bother with anonymous posts, but some strike me as interesting.

Take this one on ID-friendly law prof Frank Beckwith's tenure case
Beckwith is not a law professor. He does not have the requisite education to be a law professor. He has no juris doctorate. Therefore, he can only teach at the undergraduate level. And even then, he can only teach the "philosophy of law." Not law itself.

Now, at the time, I wondered why the hoo-haw a person so knowledgeable about the state of law teaching should wish to send me an anonymous post. But people who detract from the reputation of others - particularly those others who may be their superiors in a variety of ways - often resort to anonymity, and very advisedly, if I may say so.

Anyway, I looked into the matter. Here is what I found:

Beckwith is not a law professor. That is true. His appointment is in the department of church-state studies, which offers a PhD, which is a higher degree than a law degree. He has a graduate degree in law—Master of Juridical Studies—not a JD. It is from the Washington University School of Law, St. Louis, a university and law school ranked considerably higher than Baylor University or Baylor Law School. Unlike the requirements for the JD, he was required to write a scholarly dissertation for his degree, which was published as several law review articles and then revised as a book and then reviewed positively in Harvard Law Review. Not bad. His PhD is in philosophy from Fordham University.

So, he is a philosopher with a graduate degree in law with more publications in law reviews than virtually all the law professors in Baylor’s zip code. He is more than qualified to teach in a law school in the areas in which he has expertise, Law and Religion, Jurisprudence, Constitutional Law, Bioethics, etc. He’s taught these subjects in programs of higher academic rigor than law schools—PhD programs--and once in a non-ABA law school. Without revealing any names, before receiving tenure from Baylor two weeks ago he was approached by an ABA accredited law school for possible employment. This law school has a much higher average LSAT scores than Baylor and is more difficult to get into.

The person who wrote this knows nothing about law school education and the sorts of profs who teach at such places. For example, Jules Coleman teaches at Yale Law School and he has the same degrees as Beckwith does (a PhD in philosophy and a Master of Studies in Law from Yale; the latter is Yale’s equivalent to what Beckwith earned at Wash. U.). Paul Finkleman, who is know at Albany State Law School, held the Chapman Chair at University of Tulsa. Paul has a PhD in history and did post-doc work at Harvard Law School (but did not earn a degree). Both men are outstanding scholars in the law, though neither has a JD. Former president of Utah State, and editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Supreme Court Opinions, Kermit Hall, is in the same boat as the rest including Beckwith. He has a PhD (history) and a MSL (Yale Law School). And before he moved to Utah State, Hall had dual appointments in the law school and the department of history at Indiana University. Hall’s lack of JD didn’t mean much to the folks at Indiana. The same is true of Carol Swain of Vanderbilt Law School: PhD (political science) and a MSL (Yale Law School). Although he doesn’t teach at a law school, Robert P. George is considered one of the greatest legal scholars in America. He is a JD (Harvard Law School) with a DPhil (Oxford). He happens to hold the McCormick Chair in Jurisprudence at Princeton University, which was once held by Woodrow Wilson. Now George doesn’t teach at a law school, but he’s clearly superior to anybody at Baylor in the areas of expertise, his number and quality of publications, and his influence in the academy and the public square.

But I don't think Mr. Anonymous would really care.

I used to get that kind of anonymous letter from old women raising cain about the fact that I dug up my lawn some years ago and planted Rose of Sharon trees, which was considered deviant in some circles. ("She doesn't know anything about gardening, you know ...")

Plus ca change .... In a way, that's kind of comforting. Yeah, plus ca change. And Beckwith still has a job.
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

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Sketches from the Toronto ID conference 3

I'd left the conference early on Friday night. The house was packed out and the U organizer worried about the Fire Marshal's opinion of people sitting on the stair grades, so I ceded my seat.

(So much for "ID is dead ..." Not in Toronto, anyway.)

(Note: For Sketch 2, go here.)

Thus I missed the presentation by emeritus chemist Dr. David Humphreys, in support of the view that the molecules of life give evidence of purposeful design. I bet they do. I also missed the presentation by astronomer Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe.

When I got back early Saturday morning, there was a distinct buzz because Ross had "witnessed" during his presentation.

Wish now I had taken bets. Friends say he is at heart an evangelist and uses every opportunity he can and any science info he can get hold of to win converts to Christianity.

But in Toronto, witnessing is widely regarded as infra dig.

Well, it will give the local village atheists something to go on about. And on and on and on. But hey.

The Saturday morning lecture was more along the lines of what the organizer had expected. Dr. Robert Mann, chair of physics at the University of Waterloo, and also an affiliate member of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics there, and chair of Canadian Scientific and Christian Affiliation (equivalent to American Scientific Affiliation), discussed "universal Darwinism." A discussion long overdue, in my view.

Universal Darwinism means just what it says. As Mann ably showed, according to universal Darwinism, Darwin's theory explains everything from the operations of the human mind (consciousness and free will are just an illusion and your thoughts are merely "memes" ) through morality (just a way to spread your selfish genes ) all the way to the creation of the entire universe via Darwinian evolution in black holes .

Evolution of species? Aw, that's just small potatoes. The fact that there is very little evidence of the evolution of species via any mechanism (because speciation is not often observed) doesn't really matter after all. The Darwinist, it turns out, has whales to fry, not sardines. There is no evidence for the whales, of course, but the Darwinist can always start yelling about "science" in general and create a whale of a disruption.

Significantly, not one Darwinist present at the meeting suggested that Mann was mistaken, that Darwinism in fact has limited aims.

If I could choose just one thing to get across to the people who want to know why there is an intelligent design controversy, it would be the very topic Mann introduced: The fact that the Darwinist - like the Fascist or the Communist - does NOT have limited aims.

The Darwinist wants natural selection acting on random mutations to explain absolutely everything in the universe, and if he can get hold of your kids in the school system, that's what he will try to do. And force you to pay for it. That is part of the reason why there is an intelligent design controversy.

(There are other reasons, but once people realize what the Darwinist is up to, that alone is a reliable generator of controversy, although many of the actual controversies are stupid and destructive.)

Mann castigated both sides in the Darwinism-ID debate. He castigated the Darwinists for thinking the ID guys stupid. He was weary of hearing that because, he said, whatever the ID guy are, they are not stupid. But he also said the ID guys need to do way more research to demonstrate their interesting ideas.

Mann pleaded for some sort of experimental test of Darwinism vs. ID. I suspect he had in mind the kind of test that decided in favor of the Big Bang over the Steady State universe, which I wrote about in By Design or by Chance?.

I asked Mann over lunch how he thought the ID guys could manage that. Like, if you are denied a PHD or tenure, or booted out of your job for investigating subjects that might generate an ID finding, does that make it easier or harder to do the research?

I got the feeling he has not heard the stuff I have. But a guy who does cosmology for a living probably doesn't hear the down 'n' dirty about what Darwinists do to keep hold of power and money when there is actually very little evidence to support their theory of speciation and none to support its inflation to the entire universe or the human mind.

But, of course, in principle Mann is right - sort of.

The ID guys do need to come up with things that grab people's attention. On the other hand, let's not be under any illusion whatever that, in the short term, that will protect them from Darwinists. Anything they do come up with, they will have difficulty publishing. And they will have difficulty getting or keeping degrees or tenure after they do it. A large number of the non-Darwinist scientists that the Discovery Institute has tallied are safely retired (no surprise there - a whole industry of retired and dead guys doubt Darwinism, safe from its thugs).

Maybe Discovery should provide a clause for scientists' wills saying, "Look, I never agreed with all that crap, but I had a family, you know, and a career. Too bad about the guys who said something while they were alive."

By the way, it was really interesting the way the Darwinists sneered at Mann, who is almost certainly light years ahead of most of them in intelligence, because he is a Christian. That was precisely the sort of thing they do to ID folk in general, a fact that he noted politely in his talk.

Essentially, I have learned that uncivilized and unjustified arrogance is the Darwinists' second key weakness. Their first key weakness is that they apparently do not have the goods.
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

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Not funding an anti-ID campaign means that a social science body is "infected with post-modern drivel"?

Dan Adelman at New Republic thinks that rejecting a grant for Brian Alters means that Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research council is infected with "post-modern drivel" . Ironically, the Council is actually trying to preserve social science standards in denying a grant to a man who is a combatant in the controversy, which means that - whatever his other merits - he is of little value as a researcher.

As I have said elsewhere, if the Council is forced by pressure to cave and give Alters the money, it won't be the biggest waste of funds or the first time such things have happened. Activist research has been the curse of social science in Canada for some time. People are given money all the time to go out and prove all kinds of propositions in which they obviously have a vested interest. It was nice to see the Council taking a stand, however briefly, against an egregious example.

Incidentally, Canadians will recall that the Canadian government has also eliminated the Court Challenges program, by which leftists were given money to challenge traditional values, but the upholders of traditional values had to raise cash from the meagre leftovers from steep taxation.
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

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ID guys make direct appeal to youth

In a long-awaited move, the intelligent design guys are attempting an end run around the interminable school board controversies by appealing directly to young people.

Can ID can compete with X-boxes and text messages about edgy TV?

Maybe. Young people love excitement. As long as YOU are not the person who is about to lose your tenure, job, teaching position, or access to lab facilities and specimens - the ID controversy is fun and exciting. Even if you are, it is still esciting ...

"Give us your young people . . ., " ID math maven Bill Dembski intones, ironically.

"Progressive" parents, be warned. Censor your children's Internet access meticulously. Just as the struggling atheist sees Bibles open everywhere, your children may see design in nature everywhere, even though you know it is all just an illusion.

The Darwinists have had your young people long enough to shape, subvert, and corrupt. Send them to and mobilize this sleeping giant! The old guard is not going to change. The hope of the future lies with our youth. The new site is modeled on Xanga and Myspace and aimed at concentrating the power of youth to throw off the indoctrination that is being shoved down their throats by groups like the NCSE and enforced by inept judicial rulings like those of Judge Jones (note the image of Jones on the splash page). The NCSE, the ACLU, Jones, etc. have effectively disenfranchised our young people when it comes to the teaching of biological origins. Today’s high school and college students are going to need to reclaim their own freedom.

Truth in advertising: I posted a couple of items at Overwhelming Evidence myself. If I contribute regularly, I will hereafter try to make my posts high school-age oriented. Having been an editor on some of the most interesting textbook projects ever published in Canada, I can safely promise they won't be dull sludge.

Now, I wonder if high schools will be court-ordered to block access to the site? Will the American taxpayer be asked to pay to develop special software forthe purpose? See what I mean? Whatever else it is, the ID controversy is not dull.

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Thinkquote of the day: The Florida ID conference

ID guy Jonathan Wells tells me,

On Friday evening, September 29, 2006, several of us (Mike Behe, Bill Dembski, Ralph Seelke and myself) spoke to a crowd of almost 4,000 people at the University of South Florida's Sun Dome in Tampa, usually devoted to sports events such as basketball games. The event was sponsored by Physicians and Surgeons for Scientific Integrity (PSSI) . It was organized by some hard-working volunteers.

THe doctor- run Florida ID conference was a hit. The audience consisted almost entirely of people seriously interested in learning about ID -- including students, faculty, and parents. There were a few Darwinists present, who contented themselves largely with handing out leaflets ("ID Is Not Science") and shouting "Darwin" as they skulked out of the Sun Dome. True to form, the USF biology department officially boycotted the event, which was carried live on a local radio station.

Ah yes. If I went to interview the bio profs at USF, they would likely castigate the public for science ignorance. But science is not what the public disclaims, but rather universal Darwinsm, and that is not really about science.

Incidentally, it makes a great deal of difference that doctors doubt Darwin. Doctors are the science pros whose opinion the public most values. When was the last time an evolutionary biologist saved your life or made any material contribution to your well-being?

Wells is the author of Icons of Evolution and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism.
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

A summary of tech guru George Gilder's arguments for ID and against Darwinism

A critical look at why March of the Penguins was thought to be an ID film.

A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove’s critique of Darwinism.

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

O’Leary’s comments on Francis Beckwith, a Dembski associate, being granted tenure at Baylor after a long struggle - even after helping in a small way to destroy the Baylor Bears' ancient glory - in the opinion of a hyper sportswriter.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
Blog policy note:Comments are permitted on this blog, but they are moderated. Fully anonymous posts and URLs posted without comment are rarely accepted. To Mr. Anonymous: I'm not psychic, so if you won't tell me who you are, I can't guess and don't care. To Mr. Nude World (URL): If you can't be bothered telling site visitors why they should go on to your fave site next, why should I post your comment? They're all busy people, like you. To Mr. Rudeby International and Mr. Pottymouth: I also have a tendency to delete comments that are merely offensive. Go be offensive to someone who can smack you a good one upside the head. That may provide you with a needed incentive to stop and think about what you are trying to accomplish. To Mr. Righteous but Wrong: I don't publish comments that contain known or probable factual errors. There's already enough widely repeated misinformation out there, and if you don't have the time to do your homework, I don't either. To those who write to announce that at death I will either 1) disintegrate into nothingness or 2) go to Hell by a fast post, please pester someone else. I am a Catholic in communion with the Church and haven't the time for either village atheism or aimless Jesus-hollering.

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