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Skeptic Summary #220

By The Staff
Posted on: 1/11/2009

Work, uninvited guests, Bush-league damage, retirement secrets, smoke and mirrors and more!

Week ending unknown 10, 2009 (Vol 6, #2)

Welcome to the Skeptic Summary, a quick week-in-review guide to the Skeptic Friends Network and the rest of the skeptical world.

Forum Highlights:
I have a job - Then make sure you make a donation to SFN.

UFO hits wind farm - Aliens working for Exxon?

W. and the damage done - Dave has some explaining to do.

Editor’s Choice: Top-secret retirement home - If I tell you where it is, I’ll have to shoot you.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
Smoke and Mirrors, Whales and Lampreys,” by Kenneth R. Miller, guest-blogging on The Loom:
In September 2005, Ken Miller, a Brown University biologist, took the witness stand during a lawsuit known as Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. The plaintiffs, a group of parents in Dover, Pennsylvania, objected to “intelligent design” being required to be presented as an scientific alternative to evolution. Miller, the first expert witness called by the plaintiffs, showed that the key claims made by advocates of intelligent design are false. The plaintiffs won the case, and the people of Dover voted out the members of the Dover board of education who had pushed through the intelligent design requirements.

Over three years later, advocates of intelligent design are still trying to relive the case. In late December, the Discovery Institute unleashed a three-part attack on Miller’s testimony, focusing on the evolution of proteins that make blood clot. I pointed out the absurdity of their arguments with the case of the one-wheeled bike.

But there’s much more to this story, as Miller noted in an email he sent to me the other day — more science and more clues to the strategies intelligent design advocates will be using in the years to come.

While Miller is the author of a number of books and a frequent lecturer, he has not yet been absorbed into the blogosphere. And so I’ve invited him to share his thoughts in three posts…
Miller opens:
One of the enduring fantasies of the intelligent design (ID) movement is the notion that it might have won the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial if it hadn’t been consistently “misrepresented” in testimony by witnesses from the scientific establishment. Even worse, they point out, when their own heroes like Scott Minnich and Michael Behe attempted to correct those Darwinist distortions, Judge Jones, that liberal, ACLU-friendly activist, paid no attention.

More than three years after Kitzmiller v. Dover, Discovery Institute spokesman Casey Luskin is still trying to win the case. During the trial itself, from which Discovery stalwarts William Dembski and Steven Meyer conspicuously withdrew, Luskin stood just outside the courtroom, spinning the day’s testimony for any reporter willing to listen. Casey’s still spinning, and now he’s doing his manful best to resurrect one of Behe’s favorite arguments for “irreducible complexity” (IC), the vertebrate blood clotting cascade. The culprit in its demise at the Dover trial, of course, was me. But according to Casey, my testimony was nothing more than “Smoke-and-Mirrors.”
Don’t miss out on Part Two and Part Three: Looking Forward. These Miller posts are a wonderful read for anyone interested in the Dover case, the spin machine at the Discovery Institute, and the science that debunks their claims.

I was born not knowing and have had only a little time to change that here and there.
— Richard Feynman

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday: After two weeks of unfortunate timing (Christmas Eve and New Years Eve), chat was back in full swing. Math talk started off the night with regular and irregular polyhedra as well as a five dimensional Rubik Cube. Wolfe mentioned his blog; make sure you check out the links section, the first two are top-quality sites. Also shared was a video by The Onion on Apple’s latest innovation. There was a quick discussion of the constitutionality of the various branches of the military before everything went to hell. The rest of the night was filled with bad jokes. After a little while chatters grew tired of setting the jokes up, and so instead only punchlines were shared.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
Caldwell Asks Supreme Court to Take Frivolous Website Case

Darwin, Dover, ‘Intelligent Design’ and textbooks

A detoxer in denial

HIV/AIDS denialism, the Ministry of Truth, and the failure of memory holes in the Internet Age

Skepticality Episode #92 - Numb3rs

What’s New by Bob Park

Got some skeptic news items? Send them to us, and we’ll think about adding them.

Book of the Week:
Thomas Henry Huxley: The Evolution of a Scientist, by Sherrie L. Lyons.

“In this investigation of Huxley’s motivations in science, author Sherrie L. Lyons shows him to be, first and foremost, an advocate of scientific reasoning, his commitment to which resulted in Huxley voicing public skepticism regarding two basic tenets of Darwin’s theory: natural selection and gradualism. His criticism of Darwin’s view — far from what critics of evolution imagine — led to a strengthening of evolutionary theory, rather than a weakening of it. Huxley’s dedication to scientific method and critical assessment of evidence spurred him to assist in confirming the evolutionary hypothesis.”

— Book Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in!
  2. New fruit in old boxes
  3. Art or oxygen theft?
  4. Possum on the half shell
  5. Beelzebufo ampinga
  6. A half of a wing & a piece of a prayer
  7. The shallow end of the gene pool…
  8. From Javier, the xian concept of ‘morality’
  9. SFN 2009 Psychic Contest, Enter by Feb1, 2009!
  10. The GOP ‘Magic Negro’ mess
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. Skeptic Summary #152
  4. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  5. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  6. Miracle Thaw Tray
  7. Cold Reading
  8. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony!
  9. Skeptic Summary #219
  10. Quantum Age Water
There were 8,766 daily visitors this week.

More issues of the Skeptic Summary can be found in our archive.

The Skeptic Summary is produced by the staff of the Skeptic Friends Network, copyright 2008, all rights reserved.

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