Monday, December 18, 2006


Liar, Liar

Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture War has a very telling piece about the Discovery Institute and its sense of honesty (such as it is).

It seems the DI's "crack legal team" of Professor David DeWolf and Casey Luskin (along with John West, whose only listed degrees are a Ph.D. in Government and a B.A. in Communications), tried to pass off an "article" for publication in the Montana Law Review that was, in fact, almost entirely the same as the DI's hastily prepared and less-than-honest book, Traipsing Into Evolution, about Judge Jones' decision.

Professor Peter Irons of the University of California was asked by the Law Review to prepare a response to the article. Having read widely in the area while preparing his own upcoming book, God on Trial: Dispatches From America's Religious Battlefields. He immediately recognized the similarity between the article and Traipsing. This was contrary to the Law Review's policy that only original work will be accepted, which had previously been conveyed to the DI authors and is, in any case, standard practice for law reviews, something Professor DeWolf at least should be aware of. Eventually Irons did a study of both the article and Traipsing. As reported in Ed's article:
On August 26, Irons wrote to the editor: "I have compared [the Traipsing book] with the article, and they are about 95 percent identical; a few word changes, and lengthier footnotes in the article." Irons noted that even the chapter and section headings in the book and article were identical.
The upshot was:
Following Irons's revelation of the virtual identity of the Traipsing book and the MLR article, DeWolf, West, and Luskin agreed with the the MLR's insistence that they write a new article, which was finally submitted on September 28, with the new title, "Intelligent Design Will Survive Kitzmiller v. Dover." This "new" article borrowed heavily from the Traipsing book, but Irons and the MLR editors agreed that it was sufficiently revised to meet (barely) the requirement of "original" work. In response, Irons wrote a rejoinder, titled "Disaster in Dover: The Trials (and Tribulations) of Intelligent Design." Both articles will be published in the MLR's next issue, in January or February, 2007.

Professor Irons concluded his study with these comments: "It seems to me the height of hypocrisy for the Discovery Institute to accuse Judge Jones of copying 90 percent of one section of his opinion (just 16 percent of its total length) from the proposed findings of fact by the plaintiff's lawyers, when the DI itself tried to palm off as 'original' work a law review article that was copied 95 percent from the authors' own book. Concealing this fact from the law review editors, until I discovered and documented this effort, seriously undercuts the credibility of the DI on this or any other issue."
The only problem with Professor Irons' assessment of the situation is that he assumes the Discovery Institute has any credibility left.
Robert G. Natelson, a Professor of Law at the University of Montana who was instrumental in originating the plan to have the DI article appear in the Law Review, has come out in defense of the actions of David DeWolf in a series of sharply worded exchanges between Natelson and Ed Brayton in the comments section of the original article. Then the student editor of the review provided a version of events that pretty much absolves all sides of active deception but still leaves all the humor of the Discovery Institute complaining about the Judge copying a small part of his decision from work the lawyers were required to provide just for that purpose, while, at the same time, its chief legal advisor is submitting an article copied almost in its entirety from previous work, perhaps under the belief that it was okay with the review, but without making that point in the submitted material. Perhaps not unethical but still funny as hell.

"The only problem with Professor Irons' assessment of the situation is that he assumes the Discovery Institute has any credibility left."

Does this passage imply that the DI had any credibility to begin with? =\
Merely the default credibility anyone starts out with, i.e. "I don't know your're a liar ... yet."
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