Nova's Documentary on the Dover Schoolboard Suit on PBS

Or, Inherit the Wind 2: Electric Boogaloo! This is a heads up to everyone that PBS will be showing a special two-hour Nova program on it called *Judgement Day*, which sounds interesting.

I’ve heard interviews with the presiding judge in the case, and it’s quite obvious that he’s a highly intelligent and thoughtful person. People who’ve seen the documentary say it’s the science class they wish they’d gotten in high school.

The scheduled air date is Nov. 13th (too bad it’s not a Friday :wink: )at 8PM EST. (Check local listings, of course.)

So, did anybody watch it? I recorded it, but haven’t watched it yet.

I watched it and thought it was interesting. I don’t usually like NOVA episodes that include a lot of dramatization, but this was ok. (It was a little strange seeing people portrayed by actors and the real people interviewed in the same show.) While I was watching, I thought the folks on the creationist side were being portrayed as slimy liars in the dramatizations. But then I realized that they looked that way when the real individuals were interviewed (of course, this is my opinion…in fact, the real-life creationists seemed worse than their portrayals). I’d say it’s worth watching your recording.

I LOVED this episode! The idea of “Intelligent Design” was bludgeoned, beaten, stabbed, set on fire, buried, and sealed in concrete. The most delicious moment was when Michael Behe, an ardent “cdesign proponentist” (you will get the reference after watching) was forced to admit that under his definition of science, astrology and the ether theory are still valid scientific practices.

Ken Miller is the MAN, his eloquence on the stand and clarity of thought were amazing, I loved his mousetrap tie clasp!

I caught this last night. It was great.

The one ID person, William Buckingham, came off really badly by his own words. His way of thinking is just so alien to mine. It boiled down to “science and logic be damned (literally in this case) let nothing counter my belief in God”. He is exactly the type of religious thinking that makes many people hostile to religious people. On the positive side, many of those on the side of science were people of God. Of course, they were being called atheist by some of their fellow townsfolk. Many including the Judge, (who was appointed by Bush), received death threats.

The story of how the arguments were refuted, the expert witness were challenged and the proof was found that “Of Pandas and People” was in origin a creationist textbook was quite startling. Judge John E. Jones III should go down as a hero of the judicial system. He listened carefully to all the argument and bucked the people that appointed him to the seat. The Town of Dover should be applauded for bouncing the 8 school board members out that had voted for ID.

The judgment was that ID was clearly not science and further that Intelligent Design is repackaging of creationism.

I really enjoyed the point were the expert witness, Michael Behe, admitted that by his criteria astrology was as scientific as ID. I suspect that and the smoking gun of text in the earlier drafts of “Of Pandas and People”.

William Buckingham & Alan Bonsell clearly perjured themselves. Were they have tried for said?


Board timed out badly: Sorry for the typos.

I think it is worth mentioning that Judge Jones is a Republican and a church goer.

Thanks for the heads up. I’m setting the TiVo for a future airing.

Also, linked on that page, is another show I wouldn’t have known about otherwise but that’s going on the record list. So thanks times two. :slight_smile:

Great show. But NOVA is usually great. I just wish I could get certain friends of mine to watch it…

Thanks for the heads-up. I get NOVA on Wednesday nights, but rarely miss an episode anyway (it also has repeats on Saturday and Sunday afternoon/evening for me, so I get several chances a week).

It was very well done and so satisfying. I loved the scene where Behe was on the stand and the Plaintiff’s attorney started presenting him papers and books on the evolution of the neurological system in vertebrates.

It felt like I was watching a well made detective story too, when we saw the investigation into the Panda’s manuscripts.

I thought it was very well presented, and I’m going to make my wife watch it. I’ve tried to explain to her before how IDer’s think, but this program illustrates it far better than I ever have.

I saw this as well, and thought it was excellent, but really wish someone other than NOVA would do things like this because they are, unfortunately, preaching to the choir. The folks who need to see this are the ones fooled by the “teach the controversy/what’s wrong with mentioning both sides?” argument, and they’re usually the ones least interested in a science-heavy show on PBS. I for one think ID should be taught in science classrooms…as an untenable theory of natural history, a prime example of bad science, and the lengths to which a faulty adherence to religious principles corrupt the soul.

There was mention made about how many of the reporters in the courtroom were stunned by the enormous amount of evidence there was in support for evolution (DNA sequences, prediction of fossil records, loss of chromosome in humans), and this from folks who “cover” science in the popular press.

Meanwhile, the ID evidence amounted to a collection of off-the-cuff objections to evolution (sans experiments they themselves said needed to be run to prove their theories), all of which wilted under cross-examination. In one scene, a Lehigh ID professor’s claim that evolutionary theory failed to account for the human immune system was utterly ridiculed as the attorney started stacking up dozens of books, magazine articles, and literature on the topic right on the witness stand, and it became clear the professor had never heard on most of them. Yes it was cheap courtroom thetrics, but if that’s what it takes to expose these clowns for what they are, please let’s have more. The flagellum objection–that such a bacterial structure is too complicated to have evolved all its parts simultaneously–was utterly destroyed with cool logic. When the ID scientist claimed that evolutionists needed to run experiments with bacteria generations showing how this structure could evolve based on its resemblance to stingers seen in other bacteria, his later admission that no ID-proponent had run similar tests to prove their argument belied the faith-based approach to this “scientific” theory.

I’ll also agree delving into the motivations of the school board and ID proponents worked better than I expected. I initially thought things like religious motivation for the curriculum would be too difficult to prove, but the search-and-replace evidence from the creastionist-to-ID panda textbook and the material proof pro-ID schoolboard members lied under oath left no doubt what the real agenda was here.

In the end the ID proponents in the case (with the exception of the magnanimous lawyer from the Thomas More center) were reduced to sputtering insults as they skulked off stage, an indictment for perjury looming. That crack from the ex-school-board member that the judge in this case must have gone to “clown college” is the textbook definition of sour grapes; I would expect better behavior from my four-year-old.

That’s funny, I said nearly the same thing to my wife last night after watching the show.

I saw it. It was awesome. I think it’s too bad that the school district (whose board is now composed of ID opponents) has to pay the lawyer’s fees for what a few ignorant assholes caused. The individuals that perpetrated the whole fraud should have to pay, not the school.

That is why school board elections really are important. I have seen cases like this really hurt a town or district before. The issue wasn’t ID, but some other stupidity by a school board elected out of apathy.

The town I grew up in went through this after I was out of High School. The stupid lawsuits and iffy deals cost the taxpayers of two towns a lot of money.


The thing I was most astounded by was the level of self-delusion by the defendant’s expert witnesses, and I don’t mean that in terms of their religious beliefs.

The biologists on the stand were obviously not stupid, they have many peer-reviewed articles published and had earned faculty appointments at major Universities - yet their arguments wouldn’t stand up to grading an undergraduate paper, let alone defending a thesis. They have to know that. Behe even cherry-picked a quote of another biologist that was clearly taken out of context and used it to back his position.

Another guy was a law proffesor at Cal - Berkeley, who said he “didn’t realize how fierce the opposition would be” and thought ID would be the default position of science within his lifetime (and he looked to be in his 70’s). How out of touch do you have to be to think that they would win that flimsy case and how do you make the law faculty at one of the top Universities in the world?

I didn’t get a chance to see this, but if you want more on the trail, try 40 Days and 40 Nights: Darwin, Intelligent Design, God, OxyContin, and Other Oddities on Trial in Pennsylvania, by Matthew Chapman.

Despite being Darwin’s grandson[!], Chapman takes an extremely sympathetic look at the people behind the case. The believers are an eccentric crew, to say the least, full of inarticulate fury at forces beyond their control. The case never should have happened, never should have been brought to trial. Yet once it did, the same forces that they despised inevitably, and tragically, destroyed them.

While lightly written, as shown by the title, large amounts of the trial are covered, along with all the events leading up to it. I was enthralled from beginning to end.

He was fairly prominent in last night’s show.

I heard an interview with the judge, and he said that before the trial, he met with the lawyers on both sides hoping to avoid a messy court case. According to him, it was instantly obvious that both sides were determined for this to go to trial and there was no way that he was going to be able to talk them out of it.

I thought it was extremely well done. Better than anything I’ve ever read or watched, it so clearly made the case that every single “objection” that creationists have about evolution, all of their so-called “gaps”, just boil down to ignorance on the part of the creationists.

“Oh, evolution must be wrong because no one has ever found a transitional fossil”. Well, no, actually there are plenty of them, you just didn’t know that.

“Oh, evolution must be wrong because the bacterial flagellum is irreducibly complex.” Well, no, actually it has a clear antecedent, you just didn’t know that.

“Oh, evolution must be wrong because no one can explain how the human immune system arose.” Well, no, actually there are dozens of books and articles that explain that, you just didn’t know that.

I think that episode should be required viewing in all high school biology classes.