Tuesday, October 30, 2007

John Campbell the Discovery Institute and the Dover School District

As I wrote in Can North Mason Trust School Board Candidate John Campbell, John Campbell and the Discovery Institute were involved in the Dover School Board case. Their explanation of why Mr. Campbell didn't testify are quite different.

John Campbell Says

In his letter to the editor, John Campbell wrote:

When it became clear that the board was mandating a statement to be read by teachers (a violation of their academic freedom) and then by administrators (an equal violation of the integrity of their position) I strongly dissented and was fired by the Thomas Moore Law Center (TMLC)

The Discovery Institute - CSC Says

In "Setting the Record Straight about Discovery Institute's Role in the Dover School District Case" the Discovery Institute responds to criticism for the non-participation of Discovery Institute Fellows Stephen Meyer, William Dembski, and John Angus Campbell as expert witnesses with the this statement:

Meyer, Dembski and Campbell were all willing to testify as expert witnesses. They simply requested that they have their own counsel present at their depositions in order to protect their rights.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Kitsap Sun Endorses John Campbell

The Kitsap Sun has endorsed John Campbell for the North Mason School Board. The only rationale given for the endorsement is:

We feel fresh leadership on the board is needed to help clear the air, allowing the district to move ahead educationally without polarizing itself politically.

Did the Sun Research John Campbell?

If the editors of the Sun had researched John Campbell, they would have known that that John Campbell is a fellow at the Discovery Institute that is best known for its advocacy of intelligent design (ID) and its "Teach the Controversy" campaign to teach intelligent design in United States public high school science courses.

Intelligent design has been called "pseudoscience" by the National Science Teachers Association. In the the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial which ended with the Dover Area School District paying more than $1 million dollars in legal fees and damages, Judge John E. Jones III said:

our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.

Judge Jones also criticized the "Teach the Controversy" campaign:

ID’s backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the IDM is not to encourage critical thought, but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID.

They would have also known that Mr. Campbell's affiliation with the Discovery Institute has already created controversy. This fact was first published in The Seattle Weekly. Since then, John has published his rebuttal and it has shown up in several articles on the internet.

Will John Campbell Clear the Air

I think the editors of the Sun should have researched John Campbell, and informed voters about the Discovery Institute and his association with it.

Furthermore, I believe that electing a Discovery Institute fellow to the North Mason School Board will generate more controversy (possibly on a national level), and further polarize the board politically.

Further Reading

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Can North Mason Trust School Board Candidate John Campbell?

I think that the school board candidate John Campbell, should have told us in the beginning:

  • that he is a fellow at the Discovery Institute,
  • why someone who claims to be a Darwin scholar that does not advocate intelligent design would be affiliated with the Discovery Institute,
  • and that he was involved in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial

The Discovery Institute Fellow

John Angus Campbell is a fellow for at the Center for Science Culture (CSC) of the Discovery Institute. As a fellow he has authored or co-authored 14 articles and co-edited a book, Darwinism, Design and Public Education.

John Campbell did not mention this during his campaign until it was reported in the Seattle Weekly. After the report, Mr. Campbell claimed that that he didn't mention that he is a Discovery Institute fellow because he had to condense an 18 page resume in higher education down to a one page snapshot in a letter to the editor of the Belfair Herald. He found room to inform us that he did some minor surveying and major brush whacking for the Forest Service in 1960, I think that he could have told us about the Discovery Center if he wanted too.

The Discovery Institute/CSC is an often criticized organization that appears to have two related motivations: to promote intelligent design, and disprove evolution. According to the wikipedia entry.

The Discovery Institute is "best known for its advocacy of intelligent design and its Teach the Controversy campaign to teach creationist beliefs in United States public high school science courses.

Intelligent design is the assertion that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause. Intelligent design has been criticized by: the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the consensus of the science community.

John Campbell claims that he is not an advocate of intelligent design, but a Darwin scholar. I do not understand why someone that opposes intelligent design and believes in evolution would be associated with the Discovery Institute. I believe that John Campbell is using words carefully, and that he believes in intelligent design without advocating it, and has studied Darwin's Theory of Evolution in order to find flaws in it. This is the essence of the "Teach the Controversy" campaign.

Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District

On December 20, 2005, in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case, Judge Jones found that

Teaching intelligent design in public school biology classes violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

The case was brought to the courts by parents of students in the Dover Area School District after the school board required making students aware of intelligent design in ninth-grade science classes when evolution was taught.

Before adopting the policy, members of the Dover Board of Education were given legal advice by the Discovery Institute. John Angus Campbell and several other Discovery Institute members agreed to be expert witnesses for the Dover School District. None of the institute's members testified at the trial.

In his letter to the editor, John Campbell claims, that he opposed the Dover policy and was fired because he strongly dissented. If Mr. Campbell so strongly opposed the policy why didn't he withdraw as an expert witness before he was fired on the day that he was supposed to testify? Stephen Meyer's affidavit regarding the termination of John Angus Campbell, William Dembski, and himself states that Mr. Campbell was fired because he insisted on private council.

As a result of this verdict, the Dover Area School District paid $1,000,011 in legal fees and damages due to the parents and their lawyers.

Should You Vote For John Campbell?

Before you vote for John Campbell, I think that you should ask some questions.

  • Why didn't he disclose his connections to the Discovery Institute?
  • If he is not an advocate of intelligent design, why is he a member of one of it's largest supporters?
  • Do you want science class time spent studying theories that are not accepted by the scientific community?
  • Are you willing to risk legal action if Mr. Campbell sucessfully pushes the Discovery Institute's agenda into our schools?

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