20 December 2005


UPDATED: 21 December 2005, 10:30 am. I did miss a couple of articles last night, and there have been a few good articles posted since then. I've added a section at the end with both.

As most of you are undoubtedly aware, Judge Jones has handed down his anxiously-awaited decision in the Kitzmiller v. Dover lawsuit. This post is (I hope) a one-stop for those interested in commentary on the ruling. I've done my best to incorporate a wide range of blog posts and some more conventional news articles. I received a number of email submissions, and did some searching on my own. If I missed anyone, I'm sorry. It's gotten late, and it's entirely possible that I lost your email somewhere. If so, please feel free to leave the link in the comments.

General Resources:
For those who are just picking up the story now, there are a few good resources for those interested in more of the background involved in the case. There is an overview page at Panda's Thumb that links to extensive commentary. The links to events are in reverse chronological order, so scroll down and work your way back up if you want to read things as they occurred. Overviews are also available at the websites of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the American Civil Liberties Union (both the National Organization and Pennsylvania Chapter have sites, and the PA Chapter has a blog) and at the National Center for Science Education. Moving to resources not directly tied to the plaintiffs in the case, the District Court has a page that contains links to some of the documents in the case. There is an overview of the case available at Wikipedia, and the transcripts of the testimony in the case are available in html format at the TalkOrigins Archive (along with other documents related to the case). The two hometown papers for the Dover area both have covered the case extensively. The York Dispatch's coverage is quite good, and the York Daily Record's is truly excellent. The New York Times website has a decent section on evolution in general. For those of you who are looking for coverage unburdened by connection to reality, (or who are looking for a more pro-defense perspective) the Discovery Institute also has a set of resources on the case.

The Decision:

The full text of the decision is available online at a number of different places right now. The court, MSNBC, York Dispatch, ACLU of Pennsylvania, and Americans United are all hosting copies of the .pdf file of the decision (as are other websites). I strongly, strongly, strongly encourage you to download and read the entire decision. There are sections of legaleese to wade through in there, but the decision also contains one of the clearest, most coherent and readable descriptions of the problem that I have ever read. But don't just take my word for it - Neil Gaiman thinks you should read the whole thing, too, and he's written popular books and stuff. For those looking for a Cliff Notes version, Florida Citizens for Science has a detailed summary of the decision.

Something that is worth noting at this point is just how acutely the eloquence of the judge's decision brings into focus the deficit we have when it comes to communicating our position. The objective scientific evidence favors us, but public opinion does not. In part, this is because of the strong religious objections that so many people have to evolution, but it is also due in part, I think, to a lack of the skills needed to communicate with people from outside the scientific community. This is noted in a Washington Post article on today's decision:
When evolution's defenders find themselves tongue-tied and seemingly bested by neo-creationists -- when they believe they have the facts on their side but do not know where to find them -- this 139-page document may be the thing they turn to.
Wesley Elsberry also touches on this in some brief comments about a bit of fairly public criticism his public speaking skills recently received. I haven't met Wes, but I've seen some webcasts of presentations that he's given. Personally, I'd say that his presentation skills are above average for a scientist. And there, as the bard said, is the rub.

In the initial period of glee following the release of the decision, several bloggers posted quotes from the decision that they particularly liked. I suspect that if you read through enough of these, you'll see most of the decision - Judge Jones is definitely someone who knows how to make the most of the language. Be warned that I've made no attempt to weed out duplicates. The only blog posts I've skipped were those that were explicitly quoting from another one of the blogs listed here. If you click through all of the links, you will read a lot of duplicates.

Here's a selection from those:
Paul Myers has a couple at Pharyngula (here and here).
Carl Zimmer lists a few of his favorite moments.
Afarensis' selections are available here.
Dispatches From the Culture Wars picks a couple of favorites.
Pat Hayes at Red State Rabble has picked a few favorites as well - here, here, here, and here.
I tossed in my own 2 cents here. (By the way, I was wrong. There are even better quotes later on in the decision. That judge can write.
Orac has also pulled a few gems.
Buridan's Ass picked some too, as did Hit and Run.
So did Thoughts From Kansas.
Evolutionblog comments on a couple of passages.
John Rennie over at Scientific American also has problems picking just one. (It's such a nice ruling.)

General Commentary on the Ruling:
Darksyde has some brief commentary over at Daily Kos. Doctor FreeRide also weighs in on the issue, as does A Concerned Scientist. Cosmic Variance notes that the battle may be won this time, but the fight is far from over. John Hawkes has a couple of comments on the issue, as does Kevin Drum of The Washington Monthly. The Art of Teaching Science has a nice piece.

Nathan Schnieider has some interesting things to say about evolution and religion. Wesley Elsberry has a post that gets tossed into the general section because he covered so much ground. He discusses a number of things, including the relevance of this decision to the Teach the Controversy smokescreen that the anti-evolutionists have been trying to throw up, mentions a conversation he had with an ID proponent about the constitutionality of ID, a wager that Dembski might have to pay, and a few other things.

Ed Fitzgerald briefly commented on today's ruling. He's also had some interesting things to say during the course of the trial that I'd somehow managed to miss before now.

There's a good behind the scenes type commentary at eSkeptic written by a couple of Panda's Thumb regulars. It's a very good article, and well worth reading.

From a more traditional news perspective, there is a good overview available at the Guardian (UK) Newsblog site. MSNBC, The New York Times, and the AP all have articles available that are more or less unremarkable. Time Magazine has a rather better article, and a nice commentary piece. There's also decent WaPo coverage.

Lies and Liars:
WataugaWatch and the Bad Astronomy Blogger both comment on the judge's powers of observation in figuring out that he was being lied to, and Steven Frug discusses some of the lies in depth. The judge clearly has extrordinarily keen observational tal...OK, let's be honest. The lies were so bloody obvious that figuring out that someone was lying really didn't require much more than a pulse. But Judge Jones still gets credit for speaking truth about this in his decision.

Legal Analysis:
Some general legal analysis was presented (here and here) on Panda's Thumb earlier today by Timothy Sandefur. For those who aren't familiar with the crew of the Thumb, Tim is a lawyer specializing in Constitutional law.

Thoughts From Kansas also weighs in with some legal analysis. The analysis is relatively general, but it does view the case through the focus of the current situation in Kansas. Ann Althouse also has some comments on the decision. The American Constitution Society has also commented, as has the law blog Scrivener's Error.

Applying This Decision To Other Areas:
In addition to other posts cited earlier, Josh Rosenau of Thoughts From Kansas also weighs in with a detailed discussion of the potential effects of the Dover case on the anti-evolution science standards in Kansas.

Over at She Flies With Her Own Wings, there's some commentary on how this decision could impact the latest mutant in the anti-evolutionist strategy: teach the controversy. (A detailed post on that topic will appear here in the next couple of days.)

NPR has a commentary piece (audio) by Case Western Reserve University Professor Lawrence Krauss. Professor Krauss discusses, among othe things, the educational challenges we still must overcome. It's well-worth listening to.

Brian Ogilvie has a piece up that looks at the situation from a historical perspective. Interesting read.

Psychics and Gamblers:
There are a few people out there who attempted to predict the outcome of the trial. Both Nick Matzke and Chris Mooney seem to have done a pretty good job at it. Remind me not to play poker with either of them.

Hitting the Wrong Net:
From reading the decision, it would appear that some of the witnesses called by the defense did their own side more harm than good. The question of who gave the best performance for the wrong team is still quite open. PZ thinks that Behe deserves some credit. Matt Brauer and John Wilkins both think that Fuller is in the running. Personally, I'm just glad that neither of them was on our side.

Look, the Wingnuts Are Imploding! Somebody Get the Popcorn:
Predictably, the anti-evolution forces are going somewhat bonkers over the decision. The first reaction came from the Discovery Institute, which has been trying to flee the sinking ship in Dover for some time. I'd guess that the folks who put the press release together didn't read all (or most) of the decision before putting their response out there. Toward the end of the decision, Judge Jones predicted that people who didn't like his decision would try to brand him as an "activist judge." That was a safe bet, and the DI folks did it twice in their press release, without noting that the judge had predicted and preempted that response. This little bit of irony has been remarked on, noted, commented, and laughed at.

Jonathan Witt also weighed in with some distortions of comments about on the judge's ruling. Unlike the first attempt by the DI, it's clear that Witt read the ruling. There's no way he could have managed to misrepresent it so egregiously if he hadn't. There's a solid fisking of Witt's response over at Heaven Is Not The Sky. There's another post by Witt going after the judge's treatment of the history of the ID movement. The best rebuttal to that one is really the decision itself.

ARN has a predictably misleading response up as well. Let's be clear, shall we? Neither ID nor criticism of evolution has been outlawed in general. The judge has simply made it clear that it is constitutionally unacceptable to do these things in the classroom. Religiously motivated nonsense has no place in the public schools.

The Federalist Blog takes the opportunity of the Dover decision to rant against the use of the Fourteenth Amendment to apply the First Amendment to the states, insisting that the states have the right to regulate religion. The author apparently missed the part of the decision where Judge Jones pointed out that the Dover policy also violated the PA State Constitution.

Penraker totally misses the boat in his rant, claiming that "A scientific theory has been declared unconstitutional." Dude, like, read the decision. ID is NOT SCIENTIFIC. If it actually were a scientific theory, it wouldn't be unconstitutional.

The editors of the American Federalist Journal also manage to miss the point. That's a bit scary, actually, since the ruling was pretty clearly written and quite blunt. They say, "Whatever one thinks about the issue of teaching intelligent design in school, it clearly isn’t something for the federal government to decide for every school in the nation." I wonder what decision they read, because it pretty clearly wasn't the one that Jones wrote. This case isn't about the federal government dictating school curricula. This is about the federal judiciary taking appropriate steps to ensure that all Americans can enjoy the protection of the First Amendment.

A Lighter Note:
ScrappleFace has already gotten some satire out.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due:
The Dover case was the product of a lot of work that was done by a lot of people. Ed Brayton and I both posted some lists of people who deserve a great deal of credit for their efforts.

In closing, I'd like to give a huge tip of the hat to both Milkriverblog and Science and Politics. Both of these blogs also put up link collections about the Dover case earlier in the day, and being able to poach from them made my life much easier tonight. Paul Myers used Kitzcarnival in an email subject line when he sent me his submissions, and I liked it so much that I'm stealing it, so a hat tip to Paul as well. Thanks, all!

I'm hoping that these are all original, but things have been coming quickly and I may have already hit a couple of these.

In addition to the quotes I mentioned above, Buridan also weighed in yesterday with some more substantive comments about the decision. It's a good take on things, and well worth a read. Tara Smith over at Aetiology has a couple of things up. One is mostly an overview of the decision, with some quotes. The second is a more in-depth (and less optimistic) view of what we have left to do, and why we need to remain focused. Ontogeny has an overview of the decision, with commentary on some of the reaction from ID proponents. Christopher Heard comments on some of the commentary, including this post, which takes us a bit into the realm of decadant self-reference, but what the hell.

Carl Zimmer joins the ranks of those who have gotten over the sheer giddyness of the decision enough to jot down some more detailed comments on the case. Michael Berube weighs in with some good comments, too. The Commissar has weighed in a bit, too, as has Steve Verdon of Outside the Beltway. My Shades of Grey also has a couple of things up. Mike Argento has some comments over at his blog. Alun also had a bunch of good comments at his blog.

For a more amusing look at things, hit Pandagon.

There's also been some more nonsense from the pro-ID folks. I'll get into some of that in a different post later on.
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