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« Follow-up | Main | The Intolerance of Tolerance »

December 14, 2006


At best, it shows that plagiarism and the unethical concept or practice of plagiarism is not out of bounds for this judge. When you quote 5400+ words from another source, isn't it customary to give a source or treat it as an excerpt?

At worst, it shows that the judge is unable to reason for himself what constitute science and what constitutes propoganda.

In either case, I would seriously consider penalizing this judge for his missteps.

Whoa! That is amazing Melinda!

At my sons school (in Sydney, Australia) they decided it didn't belong in the science classroom and were debating whether or not it even belonged in the Divinity classroom (it is a Christian school. Divinity is a subject). I disagreed with their reasons (which I can expand upon if asked).

You don't need a scientist (or a court of law for that matter) to tell you that things are designed. We recognise design because we are made in God's image.

If someone has studied the complexities contained within a cell and sees how it works and yet still needs a scientific argument for why it is designed, then I don't know what more can be said.

How do you prove to someone with no nose, that roses have scent?
How do you prove to someone who has always been blind that the sky is blue?

How do you solve a problem like Maria?.... how do you catch a cloud and pin it down?... how do you...

...sorry, I just had to.

I think I know why Judge Jones dislikes ID. It's based on specified complexity...the very same concept that we use to identify plagiarism. Irony, anyone?

"As a result, this central part of Judge Jones' ruling reflected essentially no original deliberative activity or independent examination of the record on Jones' part."

Perhaps the ACLU's analysis is correct. It seems to me that one would first have to check the facts and reasoning of their brief. If they drew on the current, accepted scientific consensus then that is that.

Alan, are you seriously defending plagiarism? Whether or not the ACLU is correct is irrelevant. Jones was praised widely for his analysis of ID. In fact, he cut and paste their testimony, changed a few words, and claimed it as his own. You're free to critique ID, but if a college freshman had done what Jones did, he'd be in seriously hot water. It wouldn't work for him to say, "I agreed with everything in my source material". Yet Jones can get away with it?

"If they drew on the current, accepted scientific consensus then that is that."

I'm glad the most prominent scientists in history did not adopt this axiom. One could argue that one of the most important endeavors in "science" is to challenge the conventional thinking, openly accepting and dealing with alternatives. Evolutionists do not try to deal with the problems raised by ID scientists, they just try to dismiss them.

I don't really know anything at all about the legal profession, but is plagiarism the issue here? Seems like the point is "evidence of deliberative thought." (I think Melinda makes the same point.)

Heck, from what I've heard, legal briefs are rarely written by judges anyway. They farm it out to clerks and take all the credit :-).

(I was about to say that plagiarism isn't at issue because the judge doesn't sell his opinion for profit. But then Joe Biden got pinched all those years ago for taking credit for other people's speeches, and I don't recall that he was making any money from it.)

I think what passes for plagiarism in other fields is just standard practice in law, for better or for worse. So, Alan could be correct. Maybe the ACLU stated the issue so correctly and eloquently that the judge just borrowed from their document.

Or maybe the judge had an a priori bias that led him to march in lockstep with the ACLU, without engaging in original critical thinking.

It's hard to tell one way or the other when his brief is so similar to the ACLU document (assuming this is so; I haven't compared the two). Thus, he probably did a disservice to both sides by not being careful to distinguish his own thought process.

"I'm glad the most prominent scientists in history did not adopt this axiom."

"Evolutionists do not try to deal with the problems raised by ID scientists, they just try to dismiss them."

Anybody have an experiment to test ID in which ID could be shown to be a false hypothesis? Until then the overwhelming scientific consensus stands.

I haven't read the brief but if the Judge considered the part submitted by the ACLU that he copied to be findings of fact then there was no reason to restate them, at least as I understand it. This would be the case even if there were minor errors that were carried over assuming that the errors didn't change the jist. Plagiarism isn't an issue with finding of fact.

More on the Judge:

Hi Alan,

"Anybody have an experiment to test ID in which ID could be shown to be a false hypothesis? Until then the overwhelming scientific consensus stands."

Why is this the definition for what makes something "science"? Do you have an experiment in which evolution could be show to be a false hypothesis? Even though I don't buy your definition for science, if you could show me an experiment where lifeless matter became any kind of living organism, that would be a major blow to the ID hypothesis (enough, I would say, to disprove it).

As for the "plagarism," I probably agree with you, that the re-use of material (in this case, given what seems to be the SOP in law) isn't an ethical problem by itself -- I think Melinda's point was that it seems as though the judge used such a large percentage that it brought into question his readiness to assume the ACLU's position in its totality.

... errr... obviously that should be "... could be shown to be ...". Stupid non-proofreader... (I know better that to trust my typing...)

While I have not seen Judge Jones' ruling, I have two observations. First, if I remember the news coverage correctly, the ACLU seemed to take their nonsurprising stance--plural-minus-1'ism. Like it or not, they seem to be consistent in throwing out cases which they consider biased by faith.

The problem with such a bias shows the ACLU and Judge Jones' inability to truly and thruthfully examine the evidence. One can make the case equally well for ID--if not better than--as an argument in favor of evolution. Someone earlier mentioned the example of something nonliving to living matter. The evolutionist cannot test that hypothesis with objectivity. He cannot observe it. Yet, those who see the position held by the ID movement, see creation as an equally valid explanation. We can, therefore, speak from an equally footing and with like evidence as the evolutioists offering the equally valid perspective we trust to be true.

Unfortunately, whether he plagiarized the ACLU's brief or not, Judge Jones showed the same bent as the ACLU by his actions--making judgments based on his presuppositions and not on the empirical validity which intelligent design has.

Hi Paul.

The question of what science is, is part of the Philosophy of Science field.

I really enjoyed a lecture given by Del Ratsch (who works in this field) where he pointed out that the way science has been 'defined' has changed over the centuries.
He said that Newton was able to achieve a change in the thinking about what science is during his time, and later, Darwin cited Newton when people tried to tell him that evolution wasn't scientific. I recommend it. Download it here -->

But heck, as I already pointed out, I don't need a scientist to tell me that we are surrounded by evidence of Intelligent Design. The scientific enterprise does not hold the keys to truth. It's just one means of discovering it.

I think people are making more of this than is there. This is a very common practice. You try a case. You submit proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. The winning party's proposed findings and conclusions are adopted by the court.

That's not to say that the judge was wrong, but I'd lighten up on the plagarism charge.

And, yes, I am a trial lawyer. I've had oral arguments I have made in court and in briefs adopted wholesale by judges in written opinions. I've always taken that as a compliment and a recognition by the judge that I was right and an acknowledgement by the judge that no one could have said it better than I.

Alan:"Anybody have an experiment to test ID in which ID could be shown to be a false hypothesis? Until then the overwhelming scientific consensus stands."

Can Darwinan evolution be tested? Can't tell - there are no fossils. There is not one tiniest fragment of evidence to support speciation via the Darwinian model.

You do not need an experiment - the explanatory force of ID is vastly greater than DE in explaning the evidence. And it was the philosophy of naturalists that frove the sceince so called. What a sham!

According to this article, plagiarism is frowned upon in the legal community.

JohnH -- thanks for giving us a bit more informed insight re: law (since most of us do not have the benefit of a legal background).

Duane wrote: "The question of what science is, is part of the Philosophy of Science field."

Exactly -- which is why it is silly for people to make sweeping claims about "what science is" and then broad-brush everything else right into the trashcan. If Darwin had to fight the very same prejudice, then why do Darwinists feel justified in using that same prejudice today?

This is why I'm not intimidated by claims of "overwhelming scientific consensus", since the only things that are allowed to be called "science" are those that are based on a philosophy of materialism/naturalism. (That is, it's "overwhelming" only when certain voices are silenced.)

Duane, I really appreciate what you had to say in your last post. Yet, I do not think we have trouble defining science as much as we do putting science in its proper place. Science, whether we are analyzing claims for ID or otherwise, has limitations. It cannot in and of itself place a qualitative assertion on its own findings. Scientists who go beyond the bounds of observation and evidence-based hypotheses must present their biases along with their conclusions.

Any ruling which favors the teaching of evolution over the cogent presentation of ID cannot rightly claim to be speaking from a purely scientific point of view. At least, in discussing ID, we by default show our honest deck of cards. The bias--albeit grounded in evidence--admits to having a theistic, let alone Christocentric, point of view.

In tandem with my thoughts, here, I think we also can include in the discussion how the media and public law handle the issue of faith. Often, when Id/creationist arguments make the headlines, people will dismiss them as "matters of faith". They want to divorce faith from science or any other academic discipline. Such a presentation makes our position look like fideism--faith based on something that goes beyond "reason". Such a mischaracterization attempts to put proponents of Id in a small, "rebellious" box.

The truth we have been discussing is how evidential Id really is! We who are proponents of ID allow science--properly understood--to remain science. Of course, our trust in the Lord who created and redeemed us influences the judgments we make on life, matter, and human possibilities. Yet, as we continue growing in our understanding of the language of science, we can grow that much more conversant with others--whether they hold to an ID or evolutionist perspective.


Greg's article (here on STR) 'Weighing a chicken with a yardstick', is a good expansion of the point you made in your first paragraph.

In your second paragraph you have actually touched upon a point I made when my sons school decided against teaching ID in the science classroom. At the time, I had pointed out to friends at my church, that while I accepted the school's decision, the reasons offered NOT to teach ID in the science classroom could also be used against the teaching of evolution in the same classroom.

In saying that, I actually want my son to learn about evolution. I teach him about it myself, warts and all. I also do not rely on the school to teach him something as important as ID either.

Further to your third paragraph. In my neck of the woods, the media are always quick to advertise the secular 'interpretation' of the latest fossil find (e.g. Gogonasus and Tiktaalik), yet fail to mention ANY of the arguments against the interpretation.
The public always seem to get their news after it has been filtered through an evolutionary sieve.

Thanks for your comments David. You appear to have done some thinking in this area.

Yes, and why am I not surprised to hear that judge Jones blindly copied the ACLU case? I reviewed the case documents, from trial transcripts to reading the entire ruling Mr. Jones rendered.

I concluded that the ruling was based not on ALL the evidence presented at trial but ultimately on the personal bias of the judge. There were simply too many glaring errors and contradictions in the ruling which did not fit what happened at trial. The most egregious being the ruling claim that ID is not peer reviewed, while at trial and in docket Amicus Brief form proof was offered showing that ID was peer-reviewed.

Why the disparity? I think it's simple. Judge Jones used his bias to rule, NOT the evidence.


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