Tuesday, December 20, 2005
This decision sort of blows. The one just handed down overturning the Dover, Pennsylvania school board requirement for teaching "intelligent design" (ID) as an alternative to the theory of evolution.
The decision focuses too much on the Establishment clause and on the motives and history of the ID movement (a dangerous area) as a fundamentalist movement. It is not, as it should be, centrally about the scientific merit of the theory.
Frankly, if the plaintiffs could have done it, they should have had the School Board's order litigated according to the science evidence standard of federal courts - the Daubert case. (Perhaps they could have challenged each ID expert's admissibility.) That would have required it to be shown that ID was a theory with widespread peer review support, acceptance in the scientific community, with demonstrated testing etc.
In a way, the judge did apply that reasoning in determining ID not to be science, but he did so without citing Daubert which he should have.
And he should have started and stopped with that.
The School Board would have lost in a slam-dunk with Daubert applied alone....
Instead the court is probing motives behind legislation and political movements, a very very dangerous area for a free and democratic society, but one that pleases the reflexive anti-fundamentalists.
Don't overturn this, but distinguish, narrow, and modify it.
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