Thursday, September 29, 2005

Argento on Dover

For a humorous description of the goings-on in Dover, have a look at Mike Argento's essay here.

He got into what some people believe later. Young Earth creationists, for instance, believe our planet is between 6,000 and 10,000 years old, based on analysis of Scripture. Sure, you can believe that, Pennock said. But it ignores the evidence or claims that the evidence was placed there by God to fool us, which, when you think about, is a kind of odd way to describe the deity, as some kind of cosmic prankster.

And that's when Pennock unloaded this: “For all we know, the world may have been created five minutes ago and we've all been implanted with memory chips.”



And thus did intelligent design somehow join the wow-have-you-ever-looked-at-your-hand-I-mean-really-looked school of stoner intellectual epistemology.

Later, the trial took a fun turn, if your idea of fun is watching a lawyer badger some woman.

You knew it was going to be fun when Richard Thompson, another of the lawyers for the school district, referred to “a bit of street wisdom” while questioning Julie Ann Smith, one of the plaintiffs in the case and the mother of two.

Thompson, a white guy in a dark blue suit on the descending side of middle age, is all about the street, homey.

The street wisdom was “don't believe everything you read in the newspapers.”

Word, Home-Slice.

And yet, that wasn't the most entertaining aspect of Wednesday's proceedings.

That came when Robert Muise, the third member of the school district's legal team, rose to object when plaintiff Beth Eveland began to testify about a letter to the editor she had written.

“Hearsay,” he intoned.

In general legal terms, hearsay is essentially a witness testifying to something they learned from a third party, and, except for some exceptions, is not permitted in court since the person repeating the words has no idea whether they are true because they were obtained third-hand. (And some people say this column has no educational content.)

In this case, Muise was objecting to Eveland testifying about her own words.

Judge John E. Jones III, the federal jurist hearing the case, looked at Muise, bearing an expression that he couldn't really believe what he just heard.

The judge asked Muise, “Who wrote the letter?”

Muise said, “She did,” and sat down.

As they say on the street, the judge punked him.


At 10:40 AM, Anonymous ed hessler said...

What a funny article (even now I think back to the lines and smile or laugh outloud), indeed intelligent comes to mind. I've never heard Pennock in action but if this is a sample...more, please. Thanks...dude!

PS--The segment reporting on the exchange about the letter and the identity of the writer boggles mind and imagination. There ARE other universes!

At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Kevin said...


I think you a being a bit lax and mean by dragging Wittgenstein into this and calling him a stoner ;-)

His question arises not from staring at his hand while on mushrooms, but from a careful analysis of our ability to know anything.

The quote, below, is, roughly,

"I know this is a hand," otherwhere put "How do I know, that this is a hand?"

and is it only because we all agree that this piece of flesh is CALLED a hand.

The second statement is: "

I know that the world existed before I was born" and we know this because ... err.. because we all have chips implanted in our heads?

and so if the only things we can really know, are those things that exist in front of us and we agree by convention to call them certain things, then what does it mean to KNOW anything.

not that I liked W much...

At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Kevin said...

1.2. Worum geht es?
Die gesamten Aufzeichnungen sind angeregt durch die Auseinandersetzung mit zwei Aufsätzen von G. E. Moore, Wittgensteins Vorgänger auf dem Lehrstuhl für Philosophie in Cambridge. Sie tragen die Titel 'A Defence of Common Sense' und 'Proof of an External World'. In diesen Arbeiten versucht Moore, den kartesianischen Zweifel zu beschwichtigen, der ja lautet: ich kann mir keiner Sache gewiß sein, kann keinen Zweifel wirklich ausräumen außer einem einzigen: dass ich nämlich zweifle ('Cogito ergo sum'). Deshalb führt Moore in den Texten eine Reihe von Sätze auf, von denen er mit Recht zu behaupten meint, er wisse sie mit unbezweifelbarer Sicherheit und aus guten Gründen. Zu diesen Sätzen gehören:


'Ich weiß, dass dies eine Hand ist' (während man seine Hände vorzeigt)

and HERE

'Ich weiß, dass die Erde schon lange vor meiner Geburt existiert hat'
'Ich weiß, dass ich mich niemals weit von der Erdoberfläche entfernt habe'
Wittgenstein interessiert an diesen Sätzen nun sowohl die impliziten Ansichten über den Gebrauch des Wortes 'Wissen' als auch die Frage nach der Begründung von sicherem Wissen. Wie also gebraucht man 'ich weiß, dass...' sinnvollerweise, in welchen Kontexten, unter welchen Voraussetzungen? Was bedeutet das für unser Wissen insgesamt?

At 6:38 AM, Blogger John Pieret said...

As to the hearsay objection, I'm a lawyer and all I can say is "been there, done that." Sometimes your mouth is faster than your brain and you find yourself standing there desperately trying to think up a reason you just blurted out "objection!"

I try to remember the lesson of an older colleague who, asked why he objected, simply said: "I didn't like the question."

At 9:15 PM, Anonymous Kevin said...

Hey no comments on knowing?

Have you ever been asked: "Do you belive in Evolution" and been annoyed?

two persons A and B see and ad for a job. A researches the company, talks to the hiring manager and, having an excellent education and relevant work experience sends off his/her resume and says:

1 "I know I sent my resume.
2 "I know I match the requirements.
3 "I know I'll get this job."

1 is certainly true
2 is true enough by subjective facts
3 is false.

If he said "I believe I'll get this job" that is a true statement. And we could agree that it is a reasonable belief.

B is a slacker with no education, no work history, did no research other than reading the want ad and did not send in a resume. s/he says:

1 "I know I sent my resume.
2 "I know I match the requirements.
3 "I know I'll get this job."

1 is false because of objective fact
2 is false because of subjective fact
3 is false.

If he said "I believe I'll get this job" that is a true statement. And we would all agree that it is a unreasonable belief.

I don't believe in evolution. I know evolution happens (by research, objective fact). I know that mutation, adaptation and survival of the fittest explains how organisms evolve (by subjective fact).

I know that evolution created all the animals that ever lived on earth. ---- false

I believe that evolution created all the animals that ever lived on earth. in this crowd I hope that sounds reasonable.


At 8:31 AM, Blogger Michael "Sotek" Ralston said...

John: Re the "mouth faster than the brain"... Certainly plausible, except that, well.

It's obvious you didn't read the transcript - I have, and I lost count of the number of hearsay objections, pretty much all of which were overruled.

That wasn't the first and it wasn't the last, so I kinda doubt it mouth being faster than the brain. Or, well, it probably WAS, but not because it was an unusually fast mouth.


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