Saturday, June 30, 2007

Hobra or zerse?

"A photo provided by the Zoo Safari and Hollywoodpark Stukenbrock shows the zebra and horse crossbreed 'Eclyse' during its presentation to the public in Schloss Holte, Germany, on Wednesday, June 27, 2007. The father of 'Eclyse' is a horse from Italy, where the crossbreed filly was born in 2006, her mother is a zebra from the Safari park." (Yahoo, via jwz's blog.)

Friday, June 29, 2007

Internet Infidels "Great Debate" Project

I've been given the OK to pre-announce the Internet Infidels' "Great Debate" project, which will publish four sets of exchanges between prominent philosophers about arguments and evidence for and against naturalism and theism. For the first month each debate is posted, readers will be able to submit questions which will be responded to by the debaters.

Check out the announcement I've posted at the Secular Outpost.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

ASU, UA, and NAU salaries

The Arizona Republic's website has posted a search page for the 2006 salaries of faculty and staff at Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University.

I took a quick look at UA and ASU's philosophy departments, both of which have several professors making well over $100,000/year, and was struck at the oddness of some of the salaries--there are some excellent professors who have been teaching for a long time making less money than some who haven't been around nearly as long, and an administrative assistant who makes more than most assistant and associate professors.

UA has 28 people making over $300,000 (most at the medical school, whose salaries mostly come from non-state funds) and three making over $500,000--two of which are football and basketball coaches and one who is a professor of surgery at the medical school (only 17.4% of his salary is state-paid). Robert Shelton, president of UA, made $420,000. ASU has twelve people making over $300,000, and four making over $500,000--all of which are coaches for football and basketball. ASU president Michael Crow made $442,970. NAU has only one employee making over $200,000, which is NAU's president John Haeger, who made $260,000.

I suspect it's still the case that professors at Arizona universities, on the average, make well above median salaries for Arizona's major cities and occupations. Further, I suspect there may be quite a few ASU professors making six-figure salaries who are among Maricopa County's 106,210 millionaire households.

But they don't compare to compensation for Arizona-based CEOs of publicly-traded companies, where the search engine options for salaries are "any amount," "$1 million or more," "$5 million or more," and "$10 million or more."

Barry Beyerstein, RIP

Barry Beyerstein, professor of psychology and member of the Brain Behavior Laboratory at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, a Fellow and member of the Committee of Skeptical Inquiry's executive council, author of numerous skeptical articles and books, a contributing editor of the Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, member of the advisory board of the Drug Policy Foundation and advocate for decriminalization of drugs, brother of philosopher and skeptic Dale Beyerstein, and father of prominent blogger Lindsey Beyerstein, died on Tuesday at the age of 60.

His daughter describes him as "among the most ethical people I have ever known" and "also one of the most fulfilled people I've had occasion to meet."

I had the pleasure of meeting him on multiple occasions at CSICOP conferences and found him to be very friendly and generous with his time; he was the only member of the CSICOP executive council who took me seriously regarding an ethical issue I brought up regarding a prominent skeptic who regularly published in the Skeptical Inquirer.

His death is a significant loss to skepticism and advocates for sensible drug policies. He is remembered on the front page of the CSI website. CSI Executive Director Barry Karr sent out the following:
Subject: Barry L. Beyerstein (1946-2007)

We all lost a true hero yesterday. I am stunned and saddened and I have been searching the internet for an hour this morning looking for news because I just can't believe it. Barry Beyerstein died. Barry Beyerstein. I don't have enough words to tell you what this loss will mean to the skeptical and rationalist world. Barry was a tireless defender of science. An activist who has been a staple in the media, television, newspapers, public forums for decades. I searched in the Skeptical Inquirer CD-ROM and found 311 mentions of his name. He is scheduled to teach a workshop for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry in Oregon later this summer - and represent us at a conference in Ireland in the fall. He traveled and lectured
all over the world for us, Australia, Belgium, England, Germany, Italy, and he was part of our delegation to China.

He was one of our first people on a number of topics we deal with. Graphology, Psychic Powers, Why People Believe, Near Death Experiences, Critical Thinking, Alternative Medicine, Neuropathology of Spiritual Possession, Brain States, Dowsing, The Sins of Big Pharma, and the list goes on and on. The thing is, he didn't have to do any of this. He was a volunteer, but he worked just as hard for this organization as he did for his full-time faculty job at Simon Fraser University. But he had talents, wisdom and knowledge and he saw the need and he used those talents. And we are far better for that.

And Barry was one of the most charming, wittiest, and nicest people you could ever meet. He was kind and funny, yet strong in his convictions. My heart goes out to his family, his wife and children and brother Dale. and I can't believe that he is gone.

You should do a google search on Barry today, just to get an idea as to the kind of person we have lost. Here is a good place to start:

Barry Karr
Committee for Skeptical Inquiry
He will be missed.

UPDATE (July 13, 2007): Drug policy reform advocate Arnold Trebach gives tribute to Barry Beyerstein.

UPDATE (July 3, 2008): Daniel Loxton, editor of Junior Skeptic, gives a tribute to Barry Beyerstein at the BC Skeptics' Rational Enquirer blog.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Reed Esau, the originator of the celebrity atheists list, has put together a video introducing SkeptiCamp, an "un-conference" where all of the attendees provide the content, based on BarCamp. There will be a SkeptiCamp on August 3-4, 2007 in Denver, Colorado.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Fingerprint-matching pseudoscience

Fingerprint matching has been used as an investigative tool by law enforcement and as a key piece of evidence to convict criminals in courts for over a century, but its accuracy has not actually been scientifically tested until recently. It turns out that claims of its accuracy have been exaggerated, and fingerprint matching is often more art than science.

In 2004, the FBI claimed that a fingerprint found on a bag at the sign of a terrorist bombing in Madrid, Spain on March 11 was a match to the left index finger of Brandon Mayfield, an attorney in Beaverton, Oregon who converted to Islam and married to a Muslim woman from Egypt. Despite the fact that Spanish police disagreed, claiming that there was no match to Mayfield, the FBI insisted they had a "one hundred percent identification" with fifteen separate points of agreement between the latent print from Spain and Mayfield's fingerprint, validated by at least three FBI fingerprint examiners. Mayfield was arrested and detained on May 6, 2004. On May 20, Spanish police announced that they had matched the fingerprint to Ouhnane Daoud of Algeria, who--unlike Mayfield--had actually been in Spain. Mayfield was released and the FBI ended up apologizing.

This case has resulted in scientific scrutiny of fingerprint evidence that has been long overdue. A decade ago, Tucson printer and publisher of the anarchist periodical The Match!, Fred Woodworth, published "A Printer Looks at Fingerprints," in which he pointed out pseudoscientific reasoning in fingerprint matching methodology as described in fingerprint textbooks. Subsequently, Simon Cole authored the book Suspect Identities: A History of Fingerprinting and Criminal Identification (2002, Harvard University Press), and has just authored an article on the subject in the July/August 2007 issue of Skeptical Inquirer, titled "The Fingerprint Controversy."

In Cole's Skeptical Inquirer article, he states that "The very first study containing accuracy data was finally published just recently, finding very high accuracy rates in a class of trainees on latent prints of unknown difficulty; but the study contains some methodological flaws (Haber and Haver 2006). Moreover, the authors again argue strongly against inferring accuracy rates from their own data (Wertheim, Langenburg, and Moenssens 2006)."

No doubt scientific investigation will demonstrate that proper use of fingerprint analysis is a reliable method of identification, but more importantly, it will find its limits and weaknesses so that it does not continue to be pressed beyond its capabilities and result in false judgments of guilt in criminal cases. Unfortunately, law enforcement and prosecutors have a vested interest in the flexibility of techniques that can be used to produce the judgment they want, as demonstrated by the difficulty in getting police departments to modify their procedures of eyewitness identification of suspects to correct for well-known cognitive biases.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Christian deception about The Art of Deception

Bill Muehlenberg's blog has a review of Robert Morey's 21-year-old book, The New Atheism and the Erosion of Freedom, which he applies to "atheist storm troopers such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris." Muehlenberg characterizes Dawkins and Harris as trying to "suppress all religious freedom, not unlike what was attempted in the former Soviet Union." Muehlenberg offers nothing to support this accusation, but that's not the point I'd like to respond to.

In his review, he makes the following statement:
He [Morey] even quotes from a famous atheist debating guide, in which every trick in the book is offered to fellow atheists as they attack theists. Published by Prometheus Books, the main atheist publisher, The Art of Deception by Nicholas Capaldi teaches atheists how to deliberately use deception to refute theists. After reading Moray’s [sic] description of, and quotations from, the book, it occurred to me that all the atheists I have been debating must have well-worn copies of the book. It certainly explains why actually having a rational debate with an atheist is so difficult. All the dirty tricks, ruses, ploys and deception makes any debate with them a one-way affair.
Muehlenberg has been deceived by Morey, and is deceiving others with this description. First, Nicholas Capaldi is not an atheist, he is a Catholic who teaches at Loyola University New Orleans and has written a number of religious publications from a Catholic perspective (though his central focus is on business ethics). Some of his publications include "From the Profane to the Sacred: Why We Need to Retrieve Christian Bioethics" and "A Catholic Perspective on Organ Sales" (both in Christian Bioethics).

Second, The Art of Deception is not "a famous atheist debating guide." The book's content is fairly standard introductory material for a course in informal logic, logical fallacies, and critical thinking, and there is no focus on arguments for or against the existence of God. There are four examples of such arguments in the book (pp. 97-100, 120-121, and 142). The first set of pages includes a circular argument for God's existence from the Bible's say-so and a refutation of the argument from design from David Hume, the second gives the example of an appeal to ignorance to argue for the existence of God from an inability to disprove God's existence, and the third is an example from Paul Tillich of arguing that your opponent really agrees with you, for example from the claim that a respect for logic is "a sign of ultimate concern and therefore a proof of God's existence." (Similar arguments are made regularly by presuppositionalists--that if you use logic you are presupposing the existence of God.) Note that three of these four arguments are deceptive arguments for the existence of God, not against, and the fourth is an example of a refutation of bad use of analogy to argue for the existence of God. There's nothing in Capaldi's book which even purports to teach atheists how to use deceptive arguments against theists.

Finally, Capaldi's book was not written with the intent to promote the use of deception. Rather, he wrote the book in a Machiavellian style in order to make it more entertaining. Capaldi's explicitly stated purpose is to enable the reader to recognize and not fall for deceptive arguments from others. He writes in his introduction (pp. 13-14):
... I have written this book from the point of view of one who wishes to deceive or mislead others. On the assumption that "it takes one to know one," I have found that people are able to detect the misuse or abuse of logic if they are themselves the masters of the art of deception. I ask the reader to contemplate the prospect of a world in which everyone knew, really knew, how to use and thereby detect the misuse of logic.

To exemplify this perspective, I wish to use an analogy with writings on politics. There are at least three great books which seek to describe political reality: Aristotle's Politics, Hobbes's Leviathan, and Machiavelli's The Prince. Aristotle fails because he is so dull that he is often not read, while Hobbes's perceptiveness is lost in the controversy over the theoretical context in which he embeds his insights. Machiavelli's vivid account is the most popular and the most effective. I believe that more readers have learned about politics from reading Machiavelli than anyone else precisely because Machiavelli's Prince is presented in a format of active manipulation rather than passive recognition. I hope that my presentation of informal logic will have the same kind of impact as Machiavelli.

I draw the conclusion from the facts of the matter that either Morey did not carefully read Capaldi's book, or he is himself being intentionally deceptive. I hope that Muehlenberg will allow the comment I've posted at his blog through moderation and refrain from further misrepresentation of Capaldi's book.

As a side note, one of the commenters on Muehlenberg's blog post is Creation Ministries International staffer Jonathon Sarfati, who writes:
It’s hardly surprising that antitheistic authors like Nicholas Capaldi published by antitheistic publishers like Prometheus Books should advocate deception. Under an atheistic world view, where we are just rearranged pond scum, there is nothing wrong with deception. It’s about time that Christians realized the implications of an atheistic evolutionary worldview and stopped being so trusting of evolutionary “science” that can provide no objective basis for the rightness of truthtelling.
Sarfati has also been deceived about Capaldi and his book, but goes on to engage in outrageous falsehood himself by claiming that it is an implication of "an atheistic worldview" that "there is nothing wrong with deception." This is a lie that Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis is also quite fond of repeating. Even most atheists who reject objective morality (which is not a logical consequence of atheism alone) would not agree that there is "nothing wrong" with deception, but I have never seen a young earth creationist actually engage with any writings or arguments defending nontheistic metaethics (which arguments may in many cases be authored by theistic philosophers). They write things like the above as propaganda against atheism, not as an expression of interest in truth.

UPDATE: I've just come across a review of Morey's book by Jon Nelson that shows that Morey has apparently fabricated quotes from Capaldi's book, as well:
After complaining that "some atheists deliberately use deception to refute theism" (pg. 87), Morey cites Nicholas Capaldi's book The Art of Deception as "proof" of atheistic deception. Morey quotes page 117 of Capaldi's book thusly: "Never admit defeat... ". The only problem is that Capaldi never says this (or anything like it) on this or on any other page. Morey has numerous other false quotes attributed to Capaldi, such as: "Refuse to be convinced. Even if you feel that he has a good argument and that your case is weaker, refuse to be convinced of your opponent's case". Nowhere does Capaldi advocate, as Morey accuses him of doing, that atheists should "use any invalid or deceptive argument as long as it helps him (to) win his case". Morey concludes this amazing series of lies and defamation of character by noting that his examples provide "a small sampling of the 'dirty tricks' methodology that seems to pervade modern atheism", and that, as a consequence, "my personal experience has proven this makes rational debate with an atheist very difficult".
I also note that the Wikipedia entry on Robert Morey states that Morey has claimed to be a reliable information source to the FBI and Naval Intelligence about Islamic terrorist activity inside the United States, that he gave a speech to a San Diego church stating that he had "advised the State Department to blow up the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina if they wanted to win the war on terror quickly," and that he's written an anti-Islam book published by Jack Chick. If these claims are correct, then I'd class Morey with Chuck Missler--a complete huckster who has no qualms about relying on bogus claims or fabricating them himself to promote his "ministry." My bullshit detector goes off when somebody claims to be an important intelligence source and have access to secret inside information--not to mention when they're published by Chick, who has repeatedly published fabricated works by frauds.

UPDATE 2: It looks like Morey has been involved in a religious schism between his church and another, and there are many websites on the Internet critical of Morey and his claims, in particular about Islam. Morey runs the California Biblical University and Seminary, an unaccredited school, which claims to be pursuing accreditation. Morey has a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from the unaccredited Louisiana Baptist University.

UPDATE 3 (June 25, 2007): My comments submitted to Bill Muehlenberg's site never got past moderation. Instead, he allowed through this correction from Jonathan Sarfati:

I’ve now been informed (by a fair-minded atheist who has taken fellow atheists to task for unfair attacks), then investigated further, that Morey doesn’t seem to have read Capaldi’s book or know much about his background. Checking on Amazon, its full title is The Art of Deception: An Introduction to Critical Thinking : How to : Win an Argument, Defend a Case, Recognize a Fallacy, See Through a Deception, Persuade a Skeptic, Turn Defeat into Victory. It appears to cover introductory logic, critical thinking, seeing through fallacies and contructing powerful arguments. The contents pages on the site and the reviews show that it’s not a how-to-defeat-Christians guide.

Also, Capaldi is Distinguished Scholar Chair in Business Ethics at Loyola University of New Orleans. So there is a good chance that he is a Catholic, rather than an antitheist. Publishing in an antitheistic press which has a virtual monopoly on the “Jesus never existed” nonsense is hardly encouraging, and this should send up red flags just as “Chick Publications” does for atheists (and informed Christians too). Nor is the fact that many Catholic universities are really CINO (Catholic In Name Only), e.g. teaching higher criticism and inviting pro-abortionist commencement speakers, and Loyola seems to fit the description. But it’s hardly plausible that they would appoint a high-profile atheist to be a chair, if that’s what Morey claims Capaldi is.

UPDATE (December 29, 2009): Looks like Morey's church shut down earlier this year amidst scandal.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

NCSE on Answers in Genesis schism

The National Center for Science Education has posted a brief report on the Answers in Genesis schism, with links to the coverage by The Australian, the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Duae Quartunciae blog, and this blog. In their report, they mention that
A piece by Lippard on the schism is to appear in a future issue of Reports of the NCSE; in it, Lippard concludes, "creationism continues to evolve in fascinating ways."
I encourage you to join the NCSE. The NCSE has long been the major force combatting creationism in the United States, including playing a significant support role for the plaintiffs in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case decided last year, and it works on a budget that is tiny by comparison to those of Answers in Genesis, the Institute for Creation Research, and the Discovery Institute.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Top zip codes for foreclosures

CNN's Money website has a list of the top 500 zip codes for foreclosures. Here are the eleven Arizona entries on the list:
PositionZip CodeCity
StateDefault NoticesAuction NoticesBank RepossessionsTotal Foreclosure Filings
140.85242Queen Creek
324.85243Queen Creek
456.85335El Mirage

Mormons impose their bogus beliefs on Mexican archaeological sites

Today's Arizona Republic features an article titled "Mormon tourists travel to key sites of their faith," about Mormons from Utah and Arizona who are traveling with companies like Book of Mormon Tours, L.D.S. Guided Tours, and Liahona Tours to sites in Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras to be told that Mayan ruins are sites described in the Book of Mormon as belonging to the Nephites and the Jaredites. The different tours are not only contradicted by real archaeologists, but the tour companies contradict each other about what sites correspond to which locations in the Book of Mormon--a book by a con artist, plagiarized from the Bible, the Apocrypha, Josiah Priest's The Wonders of Nature and Providence Displayed (1825) and Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews (1823) (itself lifting from other books such as James Adair's History of the American Indians (1775) and Elias Boudinot's A Star in the West (1816)), which also drew from Adair), which themselves are works of pseudo-history.

These tours are not so different in some respects from tours of some of the locations of alleged religious significance in the Middle East, where there are multiple claimed locations of the tomb of Jesus, the Garden of Gethsemane, and Noah's Ark. The difference is that the sites being visited are sites of real significance regarding real historical people who have nothing at all to do with the Book of Mormon.

Fortunately, these tour operators are treated with dismissal even by the Mormon church, as the Republic article points out with a quote from John Clark of the church's New World Archaeological Foundation at Brigham Young University: "I just see the tours as entertaining, and I try not to get upset that people are wasting their money doing foolish things."

If he cares about the truth, why wouldn't he get upset? Perhaps because encouraging his fellow Mormons to care about accuracy would be sure to lead to trouble if they ever carefully examined the historical foundations of their own religion, at least for any who were curious enough to look. But most aren't, as the article's quotation from one tour participant shows:
But whether the archaeological evidence backs up the Book of Mormon is irrelevant, said tour participant Dawn Frenetti, 28, of Milpitas, Calif. Just seeing such sites is inspiring, she said.

"It definitely helps me stay interested in learning more about the Book of Mormon," she said. "But, as far as confirming my faith, my faith has always been there."
If there were a religion based on the works of Mark Twain, a visit to Disneyland's Tom Sawyer island would no doubt be considered a pilgrimage to a holy site.

UPDATE (June 21, 2007): This Mormon response to plagiarism in the Book of Mormon is quite amusing, in that it completely fails to address the specific evidence of copying from the sources in question. It is no response at all to a plagiarism accusation to point out that there are also differences between the works! A more fair-minded LDS response also argues that the Book of Mormon is not entirely or mostly based on Ethan Smith's book, but states that "My analysis of Persuitte's parallels reveals that, with one exception, no single book in the Book of Mormon received more than 8.09% influence from View of the Hebrews (see chart 1)." But that is sufficient to refute Joseph Smith's claim of translating golden plates that predated Ethan Smith's book!

Arizona Senators kill international studies proposal

Arizona State Senators Russell Pearce (R-Mesa) and Karen Johnson (R-Mesa) have killed a proposal to create three K-12 schools with an international focus, including teaching a second language starting at the kindergarten level. The proposal, from Rep. Mark Anderson (R-Mesa), would have created one K-12 school in each of Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff, and created international studies programs at seven high schools. Global businesses and universities promised to provide assistance, so the total cost was $2.3 million for the first year of the program.

Why'd they kill it? Not because of the cost, but because studying and understanding the rest of the world is evil and un-American. The opposition from some legislators was so strong that the bill was changed to refer to the schools as "American competitiveness project schools" instead of "international schools." Karen Johnson brought in former Minnesota legislator and Bethany Lutheran College professor Allen Quist to testify against the bill on the grounds that "International Baccalaureate's links to the United Nations are disturbing and that its sense of right and wrong is ambiguous" and "It teaches students to see the American system of government as one of many, not as the only one that protects universal and God-given rights to property, to bear arms and free speech" (to quote the Arizona Republic's paraphrase of his remarks).

This kind of blinkered provincialism and ignorance hurts U.S. competitiveness--if global businesses can't find people with the knowledge and experience needed to run their operations from the U.S., they'll find them elsewhere, like among foreign-born immigrants, or just run their operations from other countries. (Economics and demographics are more powerful than politics, so ultimately this problem will solve itself, and English-only and white-only areas of the U.S. will continue to shrink.)

My employer, Global Crossing, just acquired another company in South America, with the result that about a quarter of our employees are now Spanish and Portuguese speakers. This makes multilingual employees extremely valuable. I would have loved to have been taught Spanish as a second language starting in kindergarten.

Pearce and Johnson are politicians whose previous idiocy has been commented on at this blog. Both are Senators who have worked with the Church of Scientology on its anti-psychiatry efforts. Pearce is an anti-immigration activist who has shown poor judgment in what email he forwards to his constituents. Johnson is a senator who doesn't understand the U.S. Constitution, thinking that as a state legislator she has the power to prevent the federal courts from ruling on separation of church and state cases.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Answers in Genesis hires Andrew Snelling

Answers in Genesis has announced that it has hired creationist geologist Andrew Snelling, formerly an employee of the Creation Science Foundation, Answers in Genesis-Australia, and Creation Ministries International (the same organization under three names) as well as a contractor for the Institute for Creation Research (they paid him $85,000-$96,000/year to do research for them), to fill their open position.

This partially answers the question of how AiG-US will conduct future "scientific" work, a question which CMI had raised since the Australians were the main contributors to such AiG efforts in the past.

A question that hasn't been answered is why Snelling stopped working for Creation Ministries International and went to the ICR. The Briese report contains this tantalizing tidbit of information, which I haven't seen anyone publicly comment on to date:
I clearly remember him saying that Andrew Snelling [a former Australian staff member who was opposed to the notion that a Christian can ever remarry. He was later dismissed by the Australian Board, which at the time included Ken Ham, for matters unconnected to this issue.] had been right about it at the time and that he (Ken) and others had been wrong. But Ken didn't give me any convincing reason as to why he now saw things so differently and why it was now necessary to make an issue of it.
This description makes it sound like Snelling's departure from CMI was not voluntary, and that he had issues with Carl Wieland (a Christian who divorced and remarried).

Snelling is one of the very few young earth creationist geologists on the planet with a Ph.D. from a mainstream academic institution (Steve Austin of the Institute for Creation Research is another). Ronald Numbers' book, The Creationists, describes how Henry Morris of the ICR wanted to see a young creationist successfully obtain a Ph.D. in geology from a mainstream institution, only to be faced with failures by Clifford Burdick (who was kicked out of the program at the University of Arizona) and Nicolaas Rupke (who succeeded in obtaining his Ph.D., but rejected young-earth creationism as a result of what he learned in the process).

Monday, June 18, 2007

More disappearing content from the Answers in Genesis website

More content has disappeared from the Answers in Genesis website as a result of its dispute with Creation Ministries International. Now that former magistrate Clarrie Briese has authored a report condemning Answers in Genesis, the existence of numerous web pages on the AiG website praising him for his honesty, integrity, and independence have become embarrassing, and have been replaced with blank pages. Google's cache still has the originals, however.

The web pages describe some previous work Briese had done in evaluating Australian geologist Ian Plimer's book, Telling Lies for God, a book which also contains a nice four-page hatchet job on yours truly, along with some unattributed borrowed content from articles in the Creation/Evolution journal (see my review).

Here are some of the favorable remarks about Briese that were still on the AiG website a week ago:
The Chairman was Clarrie Briese, former Chief Magistrate of the State of New South Wales, where he is still a household word for his dogged fight against public corruption which ended the career of a State Chief Magistrate, and an Australian High Court judge and former government minister.
(Internet Archive here)
These attacks had previously, to ISCAST’s own knowledge, been shown (by an independent committee of enquiry with impeccable Christian credentials led by Clarrie Briese) to be false.
(Google Cache here; this one was written by now-CMI staffer Jonathan Sarfati, but was endorsed by AiG-US at the time of its publication)

And the kicker:
Please remember: All six men listed who formed the committee have significant public reputations and/or positions, quite independently of CSF. We trust it is obvious that such a group would in no way endanger their own integrity and reputations by saying that they had carefully investigated CSF and found the charges against our ethics were false unless this were utterly true.
(Internet Archive here)

Apparently Ken Ham's opinion of Clarrie Briese has completely changed now that he's the target of criticism, to the extent that he wishes to repudiate these remarks by deleting them from the AiG website.

The contrast between the behavior of CMI and AiG-US continues to make it obvious who's being honest in this dispute. CMI is laying out all their cards on the table, including information that is to its own detriment, while AiG-US has circled the wagons and is editing its own history to hide damaging evidence.

UPDATE (July 2, 2008): Google cache has expired, I've replaced the links with links to the Internet Archive where available.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Thumbs up for Bat Boy: The Musical

Last night we attended "Bat Boy: The Musical"(reviewed here by the Arizona Republic). The play is based on a recurring character in fake (but sourced) news stories in the Weekly World News. While it didn't exactly describe the Bat Boy we were familiar with from the WWN (for instance, he didn't fight with U.S. troops in Afghanistan), it was a humorous and entertaining performance at the Phoenix Theater by the Nearly Naked Theatre troupe.

The "Bat Boy: The Musical" play was co-authored by Brian Flemming, the director of the atheist DVD "The God Who Wasn't There" and the silly "Blasphemy Challenge" that has prompted many YouTube videos.

Kentucky newspaper covers creationist lawsuit

The Lexington Herald-Leader has published a story in the Father's Day edition about the Creation Ministries International lawsuit against Answers in Genesis; I was interviewed and quoted in the article as an external, non-creationist viewpoint. I was quoted accurately, though the "unseemly" quote was followed by a statement that actually, the more salacious charges were relevant to the fact that Ham is now working cooperatively with John Mackay, the man who made those accusations, despite Mackay's failure to apologize and repent for them. The article used my position as a balance to AiG and CMI, but I don't think it conveyed the fact that I think CMI clearly has the moral high ground in the dispute.

For Herald-Leader readers who are visiting my blog for the first time, I've got a category of posts that specifically addresses the Creation Ministries International/Answers in Genesis split as well as other categories for Answers in Genesis in general and creationism. But if you'd like a well-summarized overview of the whole matter, I must point you to another blog, Duae Quartunciae, that has done a much better job than I have of putting everything into a nicely wrapped package--it links to my individual articles that go into more detail as appropriate, as well as to other information sources including both CMI and AiG.

Another good recent summary of the CMI/AiG dispute is the article "Lord of the Ring" which appeared in The Australian newspaper on June 5.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

MADD-honored deputy falsified DUI arrest reports

Hillsborough County, Florida Sheriff's Deputy Daniel Brock was honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving for his drunk driver arrest record, but now it turns out that many of the people he arrested and testified against were innocent and arrested on the basis of falsified reporting by Brock.

From October 2005-October 2006, Brock arrested 313 people for driving under the influence. In one year (not clear from the report if it's during that same period), he arrested 58 people whose blood-alcohol content was below .08. 43 of those 58, according to an internal affairs investigation, displayed no discernable impairment. In 41 cases, urine samples did not show alcohol over the legal limit. In many cases, videos of sobriety tests showed that Brock made false accusations of losing balance, being unable to correctly recite the alphabet, and slurred speech. Brock also failed to turn on his car's audio and video recorder 40% of the time, instead choosing to fill out his reports on the basis of memory, sometimes days and even weeks after the arrest.

Brock was fired on May 24.

(Via The Agitator.)

How to reduce crime in large cities

The June 9, 2007 issue of The Economist has an interesting article on how crime rates have been dropping in three of America's largest cities--New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago--even though those cities have fewer police officers than they did in the late 1990's. In Chicago, at least, the drop in crime has not been the result of putting more people in jail--Chicago's incarceration rate has dropped since 1999. The secret? Focusing attention on high-crime areas, with local commanders responsible for their particular regions. So why don't all metropolitan police departments do that?

The article goes on to mention a demographic cause for crime reduction--each of these cities has seen property prices skyrocket, with a corresponding decline in the number of residents aged 15-24. Those three cities have lost over 200,000 residents in that age range between 2000 and 2005, as well as a displacement of poor native-born citizens by poor immigrants, the latter of whom tend to be better behaved. (The article suggests a racial factor as well, noting that "This trend is symbolised by the disappearance of blacks. Roughly half of America's murder vitims and about the same proportion of suspected murderers are black. In five years America's three biggest cities lost almost a tenth of their black residents, while elsewhere in America their numbers held steady.")

The criminologist cited in the article, Wesley Skogan, is the author of a number of books about dealing with crime, including a book on community policing in Chicago (link is to a review of the book by Sawyer Sylvester) and books and articles about race and crime. While searching online for some of his work to see what he has to say about race and crime, I came across an article by John J. Donohue III and Steven D. Levitt (of Freakonomics) titled "The Impact of Race on Policing and Arrests," the abstract of which says:
Race has long been recognized as playing a critical role in policing. In spite of this awareness, there has been little previous research that attempts to quantitatively analyze the impact of officer race on tangible outcomes. In this paper, we examine the relationship between the racial composition of a city's police force and the racial patterns of arrests. Increases in the number of minority police are associated with significant increases in arrests of whites but have little impact on arrests of nonwhites. Similarly, more white police increase the number of arrests of nonwhites but do not systematically affect the number of white arrests. These patterns are particularly striking for minor offenses. Understanding the reasons for this empirical regularity and the consequent impact on crime is an important subject for future research.
I also came across an article by Matthew Robinson titled "The Construction and Reinforcement of Myths of Race and Crime," which has this abstract:
Much of what we know about crime is myth. Myths are falsehoods that have become accepted as truth because they have been told and retold over time. Many myths of crime revolve around race. This article documents how myths of crime associated with race are created and reinforced through the criminal justice process and the media. The examination begins with the process of lawmaking, demonstrating how American criminal law creates biases against particular groups and benefits others by creating myths about race and crime. The article then analyzes how portrayal of crime in the mass media and activities of law enforcement, courts, and corrections reinforce myths of race and crime. A model of myth creation and reinforcement is presented, and implications of the model for the American criminal justice system and larger society are discussed.
I suspect that race is a factor in crime in the same way that technical analysis patterns are a factor in stock price movement--it's the social concepts doing the work rather than underlying objective facts, but the consequences are still real.

CaseyPedia Wiki

I just came across a wiki devoted to Casey Serin, the failed housing flipper turned blogger whose "I am Facing Foreclosure" blog documented the details of how he used liar loans to drive himself into $2 million in debt. It's got quite an extensive collection of details about Serin, his deals, his blog, and the people he's burned along the way, as well as appropriately critical articles about various real estate investment "gurus" like Robert Kiyosaki and descriptions of new natural phenomena and genetic mutants. Some very funny stuff.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Casey Luskin misrepresents the law

Tim Sandefur at the Panda's Thumb explains how Casey Luskin, attorney at the Discovery Institute, misrepresents the 1982 U.S. Supreme Court case of Board of Education v. Pico.

Luskin's misrepresentations of biology can be blamed on incompetency, but as a lawyer, shouldn't he at least know the law? I don't see how his continued misrepresentations--and failure to correct them--can be blamed on anything but dishonesty.

Atheists weak on charitable giving

A Christian blog reports on a Barna poll of believers and atheists:
Most atheists and agnostics (56 percent) agree with the idea that radical Christianity is just as threatening in America as is radical Islam. Two-thirds of active-faith Americans (63 percent) perceive that the nation is becoming more hostile and negative toward Christianity.

Atheists and agnostics were found to be largely more disengaged in many areas of life than believers. They are less likely to be registered to vote (78 percent) than active-faith Americans (89 percent); to volunteer to help a non-church-related non-profit (20 percent vs. 30 percent); to describe themselves as "active in the community" (41 percent vs. 68 percent); and to personally help or serve a homeless or poor person (41 percent vs. 61 percent).

Additionally, when the no-faith group does donate to charitable causes, their donation amount pales in comparison to those active in faith. In 2006, atheists and agnostics donated just $200 while believers contributed $1,500. The amount is still two times higher among believers when subtracting church-based giving.

The no-faith group is also more likely to be focused on living a comfortable, balanced lifestyle (12 percent) while only 4 percent of Christians say the same. And no-faith adults are also more focused on acquiring wealth (10 percent) than believers (2 percent). One-quarter of Christians identified their faith as the primary focus of their life.

Still, one-quarter of atheists and agnostics said "deeply spiritual" accurately describes them and three-quarters of them said they are clear about the meaning and purpose of their life.

When it came to being "at peace," however, researchers saw a significant gap with 67 percent of no-faith adults saying they felt "at peace" compared to 90 percent of believers. Atheists and agnostics are also less likely to say they are convinced they are right about things in life (38 percent vs. 55 percent) and more likely to feel stressed out (37 percent vs. 26 percent).
The results about "convinced they are right about things in life" is not surprising--that strikes me as the difference between arrogant dogmatism and open-mindedness and humility, and brings to mind studies which have shown that the highly competent believe themselves to be less competent than the incompetent believe themselves to be.

The lack of voter registration could also be a sign that atheists and agnostics don't think their vote makes a difference.

What I find contrary to my own personal experience are the results regarding charitable giving and assistance to the homeless. From my perspective, all of the charitable donation dollar amounts ($200/year for atheists/agnostics, $400/year for believers not counting church giving, $1500/year for believers including church giving) seem quite low.

I'd like to see more of the data, and see how income level and political affiliations are correlated with charitable contributions. (I previously commented on another study that found that conservatives were more generous than liberals, which also said that the religious were more generous than the secular.) I've found significant differences within secular groups when raising funds for RESCUE's Bowl-a-Rama two years ago (which Kat was a bowler for last year)--my requests for donations to groups of skeptics yielded absolutely nothing from people who have known me (at least online) for years, while my request to the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix yielded well over $1,000 in donations, many from people who didn't know me at all. (My target was to raise $3,500 for the event, which I surpassed.) I've heard, similarly, that more donations to the Center for Inquiry come from humanists than from skeptics, even though there are more skeptics subscribing to Skeptical Inquirer than there are humanists subscribing to Free Inquiry. HSGP, by the way, is a regular contributor to HomeBase Youth Services, a group that helps homeless youth in Arizona.

Another comparison from my own experience that is inconsistent with these results is that Kat and I know a couple of homeless people by name who we periodically help out in various ways (typically not by just giving them money), yet we're unaware of any similar activities by our extended families (who are all born-again Christians on my side). But perhaps the survey answerers were counting giving cash to panhandlers at freeway ramps or on the street, which is something I make a point of not doing, and don't consider to be an effective way of helping the truly needy (though I have, in the past, fallen for the occasional well-told sob story from a con artist about a lost wallet, dead battery, need for bus fare to a job, etc.).

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mike Gravel for president

I think this video from former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel puts him well above most of the other presidential candidates.

X-Ray Street View

How long before Google adds output from an American Science & Engineering Z Backscatter Van to Google Maps? See the demonstration video here.

(Hat tip to Dave Palmer on the SKEPTIC list.)

Maintaining beliefs in complete contradiction to fact

One of the subjects which I had intended to make part of my Ph.D. dissertation on social epistemology (pertaining to how most of what we know is known on the basis of testimony) was an examination of how some social groups manage to maintain beliefs that are completely at odds with the facts. This would allow me to incorporate data accumulated from some of my hobbies, like criticizing creationism and Scientology. Unfortunately, I never got past the first chapter of my dissertation, but I still think about such topics, especially as I encounter new examples.

I recently encountered another example of the strategy of finding an excuse for dismissing claims without examining them, on the blog of a woman who homeschools her children and teaches them young-earth creationism. I posted a comment on her blog contradicting some of her specific claims, and pointing to Christian sources (both old-earth creationist and theistic evolutionist sources) contradicting them. Here's her dismissive response:

Shortly after you initially posted, I formed a point-by-point rxesponse. I posted it, and it got lost in the internet ether. I wrote it out again, this time meaning to copy it onto a document in case it got lost again, but clicked on “Submit Comment” out of habit before I did so, and whaddya know? It disappeared again. Wireless connection problems, or something. I wasn’t really up for writing it a third time, so I backed off, which gave me time to better-consider my answer.

I’m ready now to respond, but it’ll be in a way in which you’re probably not going to be satisfied.

Reading your post here, and following up a bit by looking into your blog and the site you moderate (, and reading the e-mail you sent to me offline, I was struck with this parallel: You remind me of a pro-choice activist. I have this theory — I’ve had it for so long, I don’t remember if it’s an original thought, or if I gleaned it from someone else — that one of the reasons that many women pro-choice activists are so vehement in their stance is that they have actually had an abortion, and are desperate for someone to not be able to tell them, legally, that it was wrong. They’re desperate to avoid that judgement; they don’t want anyone to tell them that they were wrong in aborting their baby. SO, they take up activism to ensure, to the best of their abilities, that no one will be able to do just that.

Similarly, I had a good friend in college who was gay. He startled me by stating that it was well-understood in the gay community that the men who most assertively proclaim their hetero manhood are the ones most likely to be harboring some homosexual tendencies, and by their “super-hetero-manly” actions and/or words, are overcompensating to hide/stuff/avoid such tendencies. Oddly, sadly, ironically, the men who actively are hateful towards the gay are very often “closeted” themselves.

Not that you are either an abortion activist or gay. My point is that your time spent proliferating the anti-creationism message is EXTREME. You have admittedly “spent over a decade researching the creation/evolution controversy”. You have just about every book on the topic, and have written much on it yourself. You (co-) moderate probably one of the largest anti-creationism websites out there. [This is an error on her part--I'm a listed moderator of the Usenet newsgroup, not the website, and the newsgroup's actual moderation is completely automated. -jjl] You obviously have such topics on an RSS feed, or are trolling in some other manner for articles/blog posts/etc. on the topic; you found my lowly blog post a little more than 7 hours after I posted it. It appears to me that you are *highly* preoccupied with what, truly, should be a fairly peripheral topic.

Your tone in this post (and in your e-mail) is very friendly. However, my suspicion meter is blipping.

I think it would be unwise for me to embroil myself in a debate with you. Not because I’m wrong, necessarily, but because you’re better armed.

I don’t think you’re really interested in what I think, other than to shoot me down. On the surface, anyways, that’s how I think you’d react. However, I think there’s something deep inside you that really longs for creationism to be right & true, and you’re waiting for it to be “proven” to you. While I think God honors a truly searching heart, I think it’s unlikely that you’ll find what you’re looking for. Not here, anyways. What I believe you truly want, you going to have to ask God to speak to your heart, in a way — language — that you understand; in a way that’s meaningful to you.

Thanks for stopping by, and thank you for compelling me to pray for both yourself and others who may read our posts.


She made the issue not about YEC claims, but about me--an ad hominem argument. She says I "seem" friendly, but suggests, via remote psychoanalysis, that I'm not. Rather, I'm an angry atheist who wants to wipe her out in debate, and I'm angry because I'm searching for God. Therefore, there's no need to consider anything I've said, and she can continue teaching her children falsehoods from Answers in Genesis.

I fully understand her desire not to get involved in a debate. While I used to actively debate a variety of subjects online, I don't have time for it anymore. When people try to engage me in an email exchange on subjects like creationism, I'm glad to help out those who are inquiring for information, and occasionally will engage in discussion if the other party seems rational and not just a parrot of ridiculous views who's not willing to think. But the parrots are only worth my time to respond to publicly, where somebody else can potentially get some value from it--the parrot isn't going to get any.

The reason I posted on her blog was that in her initial post, which I found while looking for blogs commenting on the Answers in Genesis/Creation Ministries International dispute--she was raising potential doubts about YEC and the idea of OEC. This led me to believe that she is not just a parrot, and is someone willing to consider other ideas. So I shared my experience with young-earth creationism and pointed to sources I thought she and her readers would find valuable.

Perhaps if I had not been an atheist, but a Christian advocate of old-earth creationism, she would not have felt the need to be so dismissive. This is why I support non-atheist responses to creationism--I think that in many cases, OECs have the best chance of communicating with YECs, theistic evolutionists with OECs, and so forth. There are exceptions, however--sometimes it's the opposite extremes that communicate best with each other, like fundamentalists and activist atheists who see the world in black and white. It's common for new converts/deconverts to swing from one extreme to the other, from evangelizing fundamentalist to evangelizing atheist, with both criticizing the liberal believer who's willing to accept ambiguity and thereby exhibit "wishy-washiness."

Operation Bot Roast

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported on the FBI's "Operation Bot Roast," which busted several criminal users of botnets:

_James C. Brewer, of Arlington, Texas. He was indicted Tuesday on charges of infecting more than 10,000 computers globally, including two Chicago-area hospitals operated by the Bureau of Health Services in Cook County, Ill. The computers at the two hospitals were linked to the health care bureau's mainframe system. They repeatedly froze or rebooted from October to December last year, resulting in delayed medical services, according to the indictment. Brewer was released on a $4,500 bond, court records show.

_Robert Alan Soloway of Seattle. When he was arrested last month, he was described as one of the world's top spammers for allegedly using botnets to send out millions upon millions of junk e-mails since 2003. Soloway continued his activities even after Microsoft won a $7 million civil judgment against him in 2005 and after Robert Brauer [they mean Braver -jjl], the operator of a small Internet service provider in western Oklahoma, won a $10 million judgment. Soloway has pleaded not guilty to all charges in a 35-count indictment.

_Jason Michael Downey, of Covington, Ky. He was accused in Detroit last month of flooding his botnet-linked computers with spam for an 11-week period in 2004 and causing up to $20,000 in unspecified losses, according to court records.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, and follows on the heels of last year's prosecution of Jeanson James Ancheta of Los Angeles, or "botmaster," as he called himself. Like Brewer, he was prosecuted for the damage he caused to hospital computers, so botherders and spammers should beware of making use of hospital computers for their botnets.

Soloway, who was arrested on May 30 in a bust that already got a lot of press, was probably the biggest fish of these so far. His case follows the historically more common pattern--being tracked down and civilly prosecuted before being criminally charged.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Replacing software patents with StarCraft battles

Cog at The Abstract Factory has put together a proposal to replace software patents with a superior system.

(Hat tip to Tim Lee at The Technology Liberation Front.)

Thimerosol/autism debate

In response to Crooks and Liars giving equal time to nonsense, Orac at Respectful Insolence has compiled a list of his posts on the claimed link between mercury/thimerosol and autism.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

ONDCP "Drowning" ad

I just came across an old post of mine on the Internet Infidels' Discussion Boards:
February 22, 2004, 05:24 PM
I keep seeing this TV commercial from the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The commercial shows a girl standing on a dock on a lake, with a life preserver sitting on it, and another drowning in the water as she looks on. The voiceover says something like "If you had a friend who was drowning, you'd help, wouldn't you?"

Every time I see it I think it's going to be an argument for the nonexistence of God.
The ad is online, though it doesn't seem to be one of the ones the ONDCP put on YouTube, with subsequent ridicule.

The ONDCP ad campaign has been studied by the GAO and found to be ineffective, but the government continues to spend over one hundred million dollars per year on it.

BAE, Bandar, and Bush

Defense contractor BAE is under scrutiny in the British press for paying over a billion pounds through Riggs Bank in Washington, D.C. to Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, at the rate of 30 million pounds per quarter over the last ten years. This resulted in a British fraud inquiry by its Serious Fraud Office that was stopped last December by attorney general Lord Goldsmith, on grounds that according to the Guardian, "British 'government complicity' was in danger of being revealed unless the SFO's corruption inquiries were stopped." Tony Blair said that he accepted "full responsibility" for stopping the fraud investigation. The OECD has begun its own investigation.

Riggs Bank, which was used to launder money by the Saudis, former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and the government of Equatorial Guinea, had relationships with the CIA, as did Bandar and Pinochet (through his secret police chief Manuel Contreras, who banked at Riggs).

Riggs was investigated by the Treasury Department and the Senate, and admitted failure to report suspicious transactions or take actions to prevent money laundering schemes, for which it paid $25 million in fines levied by Treasury in May 2005.

Bandar and BAE claim that there is nothing wrong with their arrangement and that it did not constitute bribes paid to Bandar. The accounts Bandar used belonged to the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Defense and Aviation, but he spent huge amounts of money on personal expenses such as $17.4 million to build a palace and $400,000 on a luxury car purchase. When Bandar was interviewed by PBS Frontline for a show about terrorism, he made the following statement about corruption in the Saudi government:

But the way I answer the corruption charges is this. In the last 30 years, we have implemented a development program that was approximately ... close to $400 billion worth, OK? Now, look at the whole country, where it was, where it is now. And I am confident after you look at it, you could not have done all of that for less than, let's say, $350 billion.

If you tell me that building this whole country, and spending $350 billion out of $400 billion, that we misused or got corrupted with $50 billion, I'll tell you, "Yes." But I'll take that any time. There are so many countries in the Third World that have oil that are still 30 years behind. But, more important, more important -- who are you to tell me this? ... What I'm trying to tell you is, so what? We did not invent corruption, nor did those dissidents, who are so genius, discover it. This happened since Adam and Eve. ... I mean, this is human nature. But we are not as bad as you think. ...

Bandar, the former Saudi ambassador to the United States, is a friend of the Bush family. George W. Bush's uncle and major campaign fundraiser, Jonathan J. Bush, was a senior executive at Riggs Bank.

I suspect there is more scandalous information waiting to be uncovered.

UPDATE (June 15, 2007): The U.S. Department of Justice is now investigating BAE.

Microsoft's new Turing Test

Microsoft Research has partnered with to come up with a new test for determining whether there's a live human behind the keyboard or just a computer program. It's called Asirra, Animal Species Image Recognition for Restricting Access. The method presents twelve photographs of dogs and cats from (each of which has an "adopt me" link associated with it) and asks the viewer to select all of the cats.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Which programming language are you?

You are Smalltalk. You like to treat everyone the same way, but this lack of individuality makes everyone feel like objects.
Which Programming Language are You?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Dog deduction abilities

In an experiment by Friederike Range of the University of Vienna reported in the Washington Post, a border collie named Guinness would demonstrate to other dogs how to use her paw to push down on a bar to get a treat. Guinness would demonstrate in one of two different conditions--with a ball in her mouth, and without a ball in her mouth. Dogs prefer to use their mouths to move the bar, and so dogs that saw the demonstration while Guinness had a ball in her mouth inferred that she was only using her paw because her mouth was otherwise occupied, and would use their mouths. Dogs that saw her perform the demonstration without a ball would duplicate her demonstration, using their paws to push on the bar.

Montana Law Review symposium on Dover trial

The Montana Law Review has published an article by three Discovery Institute Fellows, a reply by Peter Irons, and a response by the DI Fellows (DeWolf, West, and Luskin). Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars has now published a reply by Irons to the short response from the DI Fellows; you can find all four contributions at his blog. I recommend starting with the first Irons reply, followed by the short DI Fellows response, followed by the Irons reply that Ed has published.

A nice argument for more open immigration

Will Wilkinson makes a nice argument for the morality more open immigration policies, and immorality of more closed immigration policies.

Creation Museum's "Adam" owns adult website

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports:

Registration records show that Eric Linden, who portrays Adam taking his first breath in a film at the newly opened Creation Museum, owns a graphic Web site called Bedroom Acrobat. He has been pictured there, smiling alongside a drag queen, in a T-shirt brandishing the site’s sexually suggestive logo.

Linden, a graphic designer, model and actor who grew up in Columbus, also sells clothing for SFX International, whose initials appear on clothing to spell “SEX” from afar and serve as an abbreviation for its mascot, who promotes “free love,” “pleasure” and “Thrillz.”

The museum’s operators, informed Thursday by The Associated Press of Linden’s online appearances, acted swiftly to suspend airing of the 40-second video in which he appeared.

“We are currently investigating the veracity of these serious claims of his participation in projects that don’t align with the biblical standards and moral code upon which the ministry was founded,” Answers for Genesis spokesman Mark Looy said in an e-mail statement.

All publicity is good publicity when you're selling hokum to the general public.

UPDATE: Wesley Elsberry points out that Linden's claim that the adult website is in his "past" is a pretty pathetic excuse considering that he still owns the domain and only registered it in January 2006 and just updated it in January of 2007.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


From jwz's blog:

The Art of Wikigroaning

The premise is quite simple. First, find a useful Wikipedia article that normal people might read. For example, the article called "Knight." Then, find a somehow similar article that is longer, but at the same time, useless to a very large fraction of the population. In this case, we'll go with "Jedi Knight." Open both of the links and compare the lengths of the two articles. Compare not only that, but how well concepts are explored, and the greater professionalism with which the longer article was likely created. Are you looking yet? Get a good, long look. Yeah. Yeeaaah, we know, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. (We're calling it Wikigroaning for a reason.) The next step is to find your own article pair and share it with your friends, who will usually look for their own pairs and you end up spending a good hour or two in a groaning arms race. The game ends after that, usually without any clear winners... but hey, it beats doing work.

Modern warfareLightsaber combat
Prime numberOptimus Prime
Civil warCivil War (comic book)
Gray's AnatomyGrey's Anatomy
Raphael (archangel)Raphael (ninja turtle)
Citizen KaneClerks 2
Vulcan (mythology)Pon Farr
John LockeJohn Locke (Lost)
Category:American philosphers List of big-bust models and performers
Women's suffrage List of fictional gynoids and female cyborgs

A much longer list of entries to compare is at jwz's blog.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin responds to ruling on "fleeting expletives"

FCC Kevin Martin has responded to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals' decision on "fleeting expletives," which not only went completely against the FCC but suggested that the grounds for the FCC's authority to regulate indecency on the broadcast airwaves may no longer exist. Here's part of what he had to say:
I completely disagree with the Court’s ruling and am disappointed for American families. I find it hard to believe that the New York court would tell American families that “shit” and “fuck” are fine to say on broadcast television during the hours when children are most likely to be in the audience.

The court even says the Commission is “divorced from reality.” It is the New York court, not the Commission, that is divorced from reality in concluding that the word “fuck” does not invoke a sexual connotation.

Here's Daniel Drezner's response:

1) Did Martin write this himself or did people with actual training in press relations whip this statement up?

2) By the FCC's interpretation, is Martin is obnoxiously hitting on erveryone who reads his statement?

3) Am I obviously encouraging rape and bestiality when I say, "F#$% Kevin Martin and the horse he rode in on?" or could I have a different intent in mind?

4) As [Jonathan] Adler asks, "Given the Second Circuit's ruling, could a network air Martin's remarks without fear of federal sanction?"

Read Drezner's full post here.

UPDATE (April 28, 2009): The U.S. Supreme Court has reversed the 2nd Circuit in a 5-4 decision.

The bots of summer

My two-part appearance on "The Security Catalyst" podcast last year has resulted in some media coverage of botnets this week at IT World Canada. The article, "The botnet menace--and what you can do about it," by Joaquim P. Menezes, is more detailed than most media coverage of bots has been. He draws on both my Security Catalyst interview and my colleague Bob Hagen's blog post on bots.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Who fears other ideas??

Casey Carmical, of Casey's Critical Thinking blog, posts about the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum under the headline "Evolutionists fear other ideas":
If Answers in Genesis is taking facts “out of context,” it should be fairly easy to point out, and if the information that AiG is presenting is, in fact, inaccurate and involves logical fallacies, then what could be a better resource for teaching critical thinking? Students of the university should be taken to the museum in busloads to learn how to think critically. But alas, evolutionists are not concerned for people’s critical thinking skills, they are afraid of people exercising them. Evolution cannot stand up to criticism, and when both theories are presented side by side people can instinctively see which one better fits with the evidence.
I posted the following comment, but apparently Casey hasn't seen fit to allow it through moderation, though he's let another comment through since I posted it this morning:

Answers in Genesis (U.S.) can’t even be trusted by its former Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian branches–the Australians have just filed a lawsuit against them. See AiG’s response and Creation Ministries International’s commentary.

I think it’s a bad idea to give money to frauds and liars, so even though the Creation Museum does serve as an example of numerous distortions and fallacies, I disagree with your recommendation that students be sent there. Their errors can be–and have been–refuted online, many times over. Pharyngula just had a Creation Museum Carnival that contains numerous commentaries, pointing out such deception as their completely inaccurate depiction of Archaeopteryx.

The final comment is a reference to a critique which may be found at Duas Quartuncias, titled "Jurassic Pigeon at the Creation Museum!"

Apparently Casey doesn't want his readers to see this information. Let's see if he'll allow a trackback...

Critical reviews of Michael Behe's The Edge of Evolution

Blake Stacey is maintaining a list, at Science after Sunclipse.

Answers in Genesis responds to CMI

Answers in Genesis has sent out an email to supporters about the "spiritual attack" from Creation Ministries International. Where CMI has always kept AiG informed about how it has been proceeding and giving them a chance to respond and participate in dialogue, AiG didn't send a copy of this to CMI--but of course they ended up receiving it anyway.

This is the version that CMI sent out to its own supporters, with their comments included (as you'll see described at the very beginning). The AiG letter is in bold, the CMI comments are labeled, and I've inserted a few comments of my own, labeled and in brackets.

I find this very interesting, because if you dig into the details, the case overwhelmingly supports CMI, at least on ethical grounds. (I'm not an expert on the legal matters--the fact that the previous AiG-Australia board signed the one-sided agreement favoring AiG-US may be a difficult obstacle for CMI to overcome.) But most Christians don't care about digging into the details, they just listen to the pastors and leaders that they trust, which is why con men have such success preying on the religious. Ken Ham has apparently done quite well at getting people to side with him based on his own charisma and persuasiveness, but if you read any of his written work critically, you see that it falls apart.

UPDATE (June 18, 2007): A similarly commented email from Mark Looy of AiG-US may be found on the CMI website here.

Answers in Genesis under Spiritual Attack

June 1, 2007

(With interspersed responses, dated June 4, 2007, from Creation Ministries International. Although large numbers got this sent to them by AiG, CMI was not included. We are filled with dismay at the many distortions of truth and misleading comments in this, as we think will become apparent from our response, sadly. A document like this, which is in effect an 'accusation against the brethren', cannot be just ignored-truth matters. Perhaps reading this will help those unfortunate enough to have received it to become aware of why we had to, in an effort to be as open and transparent as possible, invite a formal ecclesiastical/judicial committee of enquiry to form under Clarrie Briese, the reports from which, plus other important documentation, can be found at )

Dear Friends of AiG,

On behalf of the Board of Directors of Answers in Genesis, we want to invite you to praise the Lord with us in the opening of the Creation Museum (and in the blessing He has poured out on the entire ministry). On the museum's opening day, May 28, over 4,000 visitors attended, with more than 100 news media (over two days) also on hand to give the museum wide coverage all over the world. We enjoyed receiving well wishers from other ministries, such as the Institute for Creation Research (its president and chairman were present at the museum's ribbon-cutting ceremony), the Christian Law Association, and others. We give thanks for the tremendous support from God's people in prayer, gifts, and in museum attendance.

We pray and trust that the museum's message will be heard by hundreds of thousands of people each year, and will not only affect the lives of many of God's people, but see many others receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.

CMI comment: CMI staff had input into the early stages of the museum planning, before we were 'cut off'. As we have said on our web site and in our Infobytes email newsletter, we are pleased that the museum is open and also hope that many will come under conviction and be saved through the museum's message. This has nothing to do with the dispute.

The AiG board is committed to honoring the Lord and His Word not only in the museum, but in all the ministries of AiG. Our commitment to financial integrity, for example, is evidenced by our membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) arid by a special designation from as a "top 30" ministry that people can give to with confidence.

CMI comment: Nor has this much to do with the dispute, as we don't doubt that AiG-US follows proper audited accounting procedures, as required for a non-profit corporation under US law. However, from our experience of appealing to the ECFA for them to intervene re AiG's switching our Creation magazine subscribers to their new 'replacement' magazine, an effective theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars that involved deceiving subscribers into thinking that our magazine was no longer available in the USA, we doubt that its imprimatur means much in terms of guaranteeing ethical behaviour overall.

[Lippard comment: Indeed--it's clear that the ECFA doesn't say anything at all about the accuracy of the information purveyed by AiG!]

In recent days, we received museum opposition from protestors, some media outlets, and through emails and on the internet. Indeed, AiG finds itself in a continuing spiritual warfare. Yet in all this, we give thanks to our Lord, for the Lord will use it for His glory.

CMI comment: Such opposition is the common lot of all who will stand for the truth of God's Word. It has nothing to do with the CMI-AiG-US dispute. CMI is also subject to major opposition. However, such opposition does not of itself prove our godliness, righteousness, etc.

[Lippard comment: AiG's implied argument is: God's people are always under attack when doing his work. We are under attack. Therefore, we are God's people under attack. That's the fallacy of affirming the consequent--the same erroneous argument used by crackpots who are receiving ridicule when they claim that "They laughed at Galileo," as though the mere fact that people laugh at them puts them on a par with Galileo.]

While we have received opposition from the secular world during this time, the most disappointing attack has come from our former sister ministry, Creation Ministries Int'l (CMI). On the eve of the opening of the museum, CMI sent letters and used the internet to publicly report on a dispute that is well over a year old. CMI sent us a letter, only 24 hours before the museum ribbon-cuffing ceremony, informing us they were filing a lawsuit against AiG and its president, Ken Ham, in an Australia court. They have now done so. Immediately after the opening of the museum, they sent letters to numerous (perhaps hundreds) of people and used the internet to publicly report the dispute.

CMI comment: This makes it seem as though CMI timed these events to be as nasty as possible. However, the reality is otherwise. Firstly, legal processes like the serving of writs (lawsuits) cannot be timed like this; such processes are determined by the legal process. Legal proceedings were initiated months ago (we told AiG-US of this, associated with one more offer to meet to resolve the dispute, and that being rejected (ignored), and then another offer of binding Christian arbitration-see below). Secondly, when it looked like the serving of the writ was going to coincide with the opening of the museum, we asked for it to be delayed, if possible. Furthermore, to avoid public embarrassment of a sheriff of the court serving papers in person, we asked if there was another way. We were told that if AiG-US told our lawyers the name of their lawyers for service of the writs, they could be lodged with them rather than in person. Why the communication with AiG-US 'only 24 hours before the ribbon cutting ceremony'? AiG-US was having a board meeting over the weekend of the opening, a rare face-to-face meeting of the directors at which the directors of AiG-UK would also be present. We thought it only fair that the directors had the opportunity to discuss the matter in such a setting, rather than by telephone or email, piecemeal, at a later time. Furthermore, we thought that this would have the maximum likelihood of a change of heart (although from the track record of the last twenty months we thought this was only a remote possibility, our directors wanted to pursue every avenue for resolution).

One of CMI's claims is that AiG-USA refuses to meet with its board. To the contrary our board met in person with the legally recognized and appointed board of directors of the Australian ministry (called AiG-Australia at the time) and signed a Memorandum of Agreement in October 2005, which had peacefully resolved the differences at that time (which included an agreement to arbitrate any future dispute).

CMI comment: This is amazingly deceptive, even astonishing in its brazenness. The refusal to meet that we repeatedly bring up is a refusal to meet with the current Board, the ones in office for nearly 18 months now in this time of major dispute. Whereas the Board to whom AiG refers here is not the legally constituted Board of the ministry, but the previous Board which handed over the company after resigning en masse and seeking indemnity from penalties for their actions signing that 'agreement'.

Furthermore, when we talk about a refusal to meet, it is clearly in the context of the present dispute, which only really erupted as a serious legal issue because of and therefore after the signing of the agreement drawn up by AiG-US's lawyers, with all the terrible ramifications for our ministry.

So how can reference to a meeting before that time, with people who are no longer part of the ministry, be anything other than a 'red herring' attempt to confuse the public on the very serious matter of their nearly two-year refusal to meet properly face-to-face to sort out the issues, as befits brethren?

Unfortunately, the management of AiG-Australia later disavowed the agreement and, after an impasse and much frustration with management, the full Australian board resigned.

CMI comment: This is a reversal of the order of events, giving another deceptively false impression. The management did not have the authority to 'disavow the agreement', and did not do so. The Australian management tried to meet with the Board to discuss the 'agreement', which was signed at AiG-US's urging behind the backs of all management here in Australia. (This was contrary to those previous directors' commitment to several senior staff before the joint board meeting that they would 'not sign anything' without consultation.) The Australian directors at the time failed to meet, and events culminated in their resignations. Their resignations were due to their own rash actions, not any 'rebellion' as AiG-US spokesmen have told third parties, poisoning the well for CMI. Furthermore, contrary to the impression given in this email from AiG-US, the Board of CMI (not the management) did not formally reject the 'agreement' until 28 February 2006, just before our re-branding as CMI.

AiG-Australia management then appointed a new board,

CMI comment: This makes it seem as though the appointment of the new board was somehow improper. This is untrue. The outgoing directors specified that the CEO, Dr Carl Wieland, should be made Managing Director and given responsibility for appointing new directors. They said through their lawyer that if Dr Wieland had been on the board (MD instead of CEO) that the recent catastrophic events would not have transpired. In consultation with senior staff and scientists, Dr Wieland chose directors with a proven track record of hands-on involvement with creation ministry. For the details of what happened, see A brief chronology of events (scroll down to Oct 2005). CMI Board has also instituted another level of accountability for the board; an extra-board membership that outnumbers the directors, which now appoints directors and holds the board accountable at an annual meeting. 'There is safety in a multitude of counselors' (Prov. 11:14).

and changed its name to CMI.

CMI comment: AiG-Australia was forced to change its name when AiG-US told us to do our own web site. AiG-Australia was given this directive in response to our earliest pleas to AiG-US for peace talks, to find a way forward together, in mid-November 2005. This of course forced us to re-brand, since one cannot have two totally separate organisations using the same brand on two separate global websites-a recipe for total confusion, especially for our Australian supporters.

CMI continues to refuse to follow the directives of its former board (as contained in the October agreement), and the restoration of harmony so hoped for in October 2005 was derailed.

CMI comment: It is a strange way to bring 'restoration of harmony', to damage, plunder and pillage the other party, which is what the 'agreement' did. For a summary of the way that the agreement damaged CMI, please see What's our concern with the situation?

Furthermore, by what reasoning should a lawfully constituted current Board feel itself bound to continue to 'follow the directives' of a Board which has abdicated en masse, especially when their actions have led to so much damage for the ministry?

In subsequent months, CMI continued to deny our requests for the new CMI board and AiG-USA board to meet. At one stage, the AiG board offered to meet with the CMI board at a mutually convenient location for a day or two to get to know each other, and then have the CEOs of both ministries join the boards to try to resolve the issues. To this end, we offered to fly the entire CMI board and its CEO to the U.S., at our expense. But CMI refused this and all other invitations.

CMI comment: This is bizarre in the extreme, a reversal of reality. See Mr Clarrie Briese's summary of the attempts CMI has made to find resolution, which were all rejected or ignored (mainly the latter) by AiG-US: look for the section titled Documents showing Genuine Efforts to Reconcile/Settle the Dispute
( ) and following.
The truth is that there was NEVER an offer to meet with the entire Australian Board, face to face, all at once, up front. Note how this is covered over by cleverly referring to the Australian Board 'and its CEO'. AiG knows full well that ever since the old Board's abdication, our ministry has not had a CEO. It insists on using such terminology, because otherwise it becomes a lie to say that it agreed to meet with the Board, because Carl Wieland is and was then a member of that Board. And all of their three (really 2 BD) offers were completely neutralized by coupling them with the following conditions:

a) Not wanting to meet with Carl present, or excluding him for the first two days (Ken Ham's brother later stated that this was so that Ken's Board could persuade the new Australian directors 'why Carl could not be trusted') AND/OR

b) Insisting that the meeting was not permitted to discuss the very issues at stake, namely the 'agreements' signed which plunged the ministries into crisis. We would counter by asking that they drop such preconditions, but to no avail.

It is obviously quite misleading to talk about 'inviting the Board', when one is actually refusing to include one member of that Board. But even more importantly, Carl Wieland was the only director who had first-hand knowledge of the events leading up to November 2005. The exclusion was clearly tactical.

CMI offered to arbitrate the disputes between the ministries, but they insisted on their own set of strict terms and pre-conditions.

CMI comment: No. CMI offered to submit to an arbitration process (CMI was not the arbitrator!), along with AiG-US. The proposal by CMI was never responded to by AiG-US to indicate which 'terms and pre-conditions' were not suitable to them. There was no statement by CMI that the conditions were not negotiable, only that if they were accepted the proposal 'as is', then CMI would be immediately bound to the process (i.e., CMI could not back out). This was the first of two 'binding arbitration offers' refused/ignored by AiG-US. They did not even bother to discuss the conditions.

Instead of relying upon a neutral and recognized arbitration body, CMI proposed its own unique arbitration method and insisted that it be conducted in Australia, under Australian law, and by Australian attorneys or judges. Frankly, CMI's proposal did not comport with normal and accepted rules for arbitration.

CMI comment: Which arbitration offer is being referred to here? CMI made two offers (August 2006 and March 2007), both of which were completely ignored by AiG-US (no response whatsoever). The second proposal was formulated under the guidance of a Christian barrister at law (senior counsel in the USA) and as the proposal stated, it would have been under the jurisdiction of the Commercial Arbitration Act 1990 (Queensland), which sets out the procedures in detail. So it is completely wrong for AiG-US to claim that 'CMI's proposal did not comport with normal and accepted rules for arbitration'. This is yet another example of a baseless claim by AiG-US, and they have been informed otherwise some time ago in writing. This is amazingly prejudicial and misleading statement that has no basis in fact. You can read the proposal at and see that it is absolutely fair, with AiG-US choosing three possible arbitrators and CMI having to choose one of those three; what could be fairer? It is in effect saying, 'Pick your own Christian judge'. But having completely rejected all such things, though trying to shift the goalposts at the last minute, they are now able to cloak themselves in the mantle of 'godly persecution' and amazingly, make it look as if AiG has wanted binding arbitration all along!

More importantly, as a ministry in Kentucky, USA, we do not believe the law of Australia is even appropriate in this case.

CMI comment: The arbitration proposal above, reproduced in full on the web, sets out clearly why the arbitration should most definitely be in Australia. This is not some minor issue, and if one is only concerned with a fair verdict, why not use a formal process that involves the very jurisdiction (Australia) which one's own documents have stipulated?

At the least, this is an issue that a neutral arbiter should be allowed to determine.

CMI comment: How would an arbitrator chosen as per the procedure proposed above not be neutral? If anything he/she could be biased in favour of AiG-US, since they would choose all three options!

Having reached an impasse with CMI on numerous issues, we asked the independent, internationally recognized Christian conciliation organization, Peacemaker Ministries (which also has conciliators in Australia), to moderate and resolve the dispute.

CMI comment: This again is highly misleading. It makes it sound as if AiG-US was interested in mediation all along. However, as the Briese Chairman's report documents, it not only ignored such efforts, it formally cut us off with a widely distributed letter containing serious innuendo and libel/slander, which it refused to withdraw when we pleaded with them to do so. The sudden Damascus-road-like conversion to mediation was only after we said we would hold them accountable at law, failing an urgent meeting to settle the issues (which they again refused/ignored).

Under Peacemaker's direction, AiG will meet anywhere to resolve these disputes with CMI and under any arbiter or arbiters that Peacemaker Ministries finds appropriate. CMI refused three offers to settle the issues through Peacemaker Ministries-reusing Christian mediation and binding arbitration (and CMI even rebuffed Peacemaker Ministries directly). We are saddened that CMI rejects neutral Christian arbitration and conciliation, and instead opts to publicly try the dispute in the secular courts.

CMI comment: Once again this is a bizarre twist on what happened. After 18 months of our pleadings being ignored we told AiG-US that we had no choice but to hold them accountable at law. Suddenly AiG-US got interested in Peacemakers mediation, but at that stage, they were not suggesting going straight to arbitration. This is a very important distinction, as will become clear. (And we are only aware of one such formal proposal, not three.) They said that the process might lead to arbitration, but there was no formal proposal for binding arbitration. (See later re the informal phone call at the very, very last minute, when they had our lawsuit wording in their hands, about binding arbitration after all.)

[Lippard comment: In other words, AiG is willing to talk about arbitration to derail and delay a legal process, but not willing to commit to making that arbitration binding. So if they like the result of the arbitration, they'll commit, but otherwise, walk away or engage in further delay to avoid any results they don't like.]

Furthermore, the statement: 'CMI even rebuffed Peacemaker Ministries directly' is clearly and misleadingly designed to make us sound evil by innuendo. The truth is that we gave AiG-US our carefully-considered reasons why we could not take part in a process of mediation prior to binding judgment, because of the delays their intransigence had caused, which would permit them to drag things on past the point of our rights to redress expiring. Nevertheless, we gave them the last offer of binding arbitration, making it clear that because they had used Australian law (paying Australian lawyers, specifying the legal jurisdiction as Australia) to tie us in legal knots, all would have to be settled under Australian law, as it would be if we chose not to be merciful and proceeded to hold them accountable. However, instead of coming back to us, or even discussing our arbitration offers, AiG-US had Peacemakers approach us. So, our courteous response was of course to Peacemakers, who seemed to be acting as a proxy for AiG-US. As CMI said at the time, we would be happy to engage Peacemakers in a mediation process leading to reconciliation, after the legal noose is removed from CMI's neck. Since AiG-US would not willingly agree to such noose-removal, it could only be achieved by arbitration or, failing AiG-US agreeing to that, court action. Engaging in mediation before resolving the legal issues could well have jeopardized our ability to later find redress for the legal matters, as even Peacemakers' own information points out. At the very last minute, (everything was already in train. They had our lawsuit wording in their hands and had seen the Briese report) AiG-US finally indicated, via a third party phone call, that they would be now willing to go to binding arbitration but only via this same organization, and still rejected arbitration under Australian law. But without ever once saying to us why our proposal was unacceptable. This was literally only DAYS before AiG wrote this document to which we are responding, so it is highly misleading to give the impression as if all along they were willing to have binding arbitration. It's easy to say things, but it's documents that speak for themselves; which is why Mr Briese's report, analyzing the documents, turns out to be so vital.

We are grieved that CMI chose to make this matter public world-wide via the web and an email campaign;

CMI comment: AiG-US engaged in an email campaign by innuendo against CMI (CMI has a 'spiritual problem'; 'contact us for more details'). We don't know who received such emails or what they were told by AiG-US when they made contact. CMI's efforts are aimed at bringing resolution. If the only way this can happen, it seems, is to bring things into the light, then so be it. Scripture says that things whispered in secret will be shouted from housetops (Luke 12:3). If people do nothing wrong in secret then there is nothing to fear from public exposure.

in this manner, so many distortions and untruths have been scattered abroad.

CMI comment: No distortions or untruths have been pointed out by AiG-US. This is yet another example of AiG-US making grand claims without substance (Mr Briese also documents such tactics by AiG-US regarding emails by Dr Sarfati. When asked to produce evidence in the light of day, nothing happens).

One of the links they provided connects to something called the "Briese report." This report was issued by a group of people -- selected by CMI itself -- to conduct an "investigation." Because of concerns over the perceived bias of this panel (since it was selected by CMI and headed by a "member" of the CMI organization, and since CMI itself set the "objectives" of this panel), AiG and others associated or familiar with this dispute declined to be involved.

CMI comment: Please read the credentials of the committee members at: . All have independent reputations that they would not risk to rubber stamp some subterfuge of CMI or anyone else. This charge by AiG-US is astonishing in its brazenness. Mr Briese's reputation as a corruption fighter is unblemished (you could have read about Mr Briese on AiG's web site, except they recently removed the Creation article about him). You can read it at: . This was published well before any of the current troubles erupted. Yes, Mr Briese is one of the wider members of CMI, mentioned by us above, one of the body that holds the Board accountable at an annual meeting (that's all; he is not on the payroll, etc.). Also, Mr Briese chased the paper trail, which is a legal procedure that uncovers documents that have been not divulged (deliberately or inadvertently).

Indeed, it is shocking that CMI, which is a Christian organization, would employ such tactics

CMI comment: Tactics? This is a 'smear statement', with no substance. In desperation, we asked this eminent committee to form, to try to once again avoid the legal road. We not only invited AiG to participate, but said that if they did, we would also participate with a similar committee of their choosing, provided only that the rules of total openness were followed. The same Clarrie Briese, incidentally, helped save this ministry with a similar enquiry from damaging libel by a renowned humanist opponent, something for which Ken Ham, as a director at the time, was very grateful for.

and then publicize this report as fact, when it is filled with half-truths and blatant advocacy of the CMI position.

CMI comment: Once again, AiG-US makes unsubstantiated accusations. What half-truths? Mr Briese would certainly like to hear about them! Mr Briese's findings are backed by extensive quotes from AiG-US documents and some 700 pages of documentation are indexed to his report. Yes, Mr Briese certainly arrived at a point of supporting CMI's contentions, because that is where the evidence led. But he also added, of his own volition, his own observations, which only strengthened the gravity of the matters. If AiG had evidence to the contrary, and had provided it as invited, the Briese committee would have certainly wanted to follow the evidence wherever it led. In fact, Clarrie Briese's membership of the company is precisely to be in a role of watchdog, to hold the directors accountable.

Up to this point, our Board had chosen to remain silent and was trying to resolve this matter privately.

CMI comment: Yes, the silence even extended to completely ignoring almost every request that CMI made to meet to resolve the difficulties. But it has not extended to silence on the telephone to other parties, or the whispering campaign against CMI personnel, as documented by Mr Briese. As we have shown in and as Mr Briese also independently documented, AiG-US have resisted every effort to settle this dispute.

CMI has now made this dispute public, and we are now compelled to provide information to you to clarify this matter.

CMI comment: It would be fine if it was accurate and not disinformation, as most of this is.

Unfortunately, we live in a time when even Christians have become highly litigious and are increasingly eager to use a secular court system to settle matters,

[Lippard comment: AiG-US is all-too-willing to rely on (or at least threaten to use) the "secular court system" to settle matters when it suits them. Check out this cease and desist notice that they issued to the Internet Infidels when I was president of that organization regarding cartoon parodies posted by users of our message boards. (This was ultimately resolved without legal action--we asked those who made the cartoon parodies to change the names on them and remove all references to the trademarks, then only removed those which failed to comply.) Also see below, where CMI mentions that they have documentation of a legal threat against them by AiG-US.]

CMI comment: It is with tears that CMI has embarked on legal action. It is a total misrepresentation of the directors' attitude to suggest that they were 'eager' to use the secular court system. AiG-US has no basis whatsoever for such a grave smear. Any reasonable person would see that we have gone the third, fourth and fifth mile in trying to resolve these matters privately, and then proposing Christian arbitration. All efforts rejected. Court action was the last resort, having tried all else. Their last-minute shift, 'dragged kicking and screaming' to the position of themselves informally proposing going straight to binding arbitration, should not be portrayed as a keenness for resolution. We asked them to explain what was wrong with our proposal (you can check that proposal for yourself). We cannot help but think that they are fearful of jointly submitting to arbitration under Australian law (despite having invoked Australian law themselves) perhaps because they know that there are issues of breach of Australian company law, etc. Should we permit those engaging in the breaches to choose their own jurisdiction, but let them knock back a much fairer, cleaner and more straightforward offer, using established rules of long standing? The other thing about Australian arbitration is that it is governed under law, which means that if the Christian judge makes an error of law in favour of CMI, e.g., then AiG could appeal it on those grounds. In short, if they were serious about peaceful resolution, they would have been able to choose their own Christian judge, and the whole matter would never have reached the public eye. The incredible distortions in this document give strong support to Mr Briese's sober judge's analysis of what is driving this whole thing and the need for it to be dealt with.

even trying to justify such actions by declaring that somehow Romans 13:1 overrides I Corinthians 6.

CMI comment: So is this saying that the CMI Board should allow CMI's supporters and staff to be defrauded by AiG-US? (How about 1 Cor. 6:8?) This would be an option for an individual, but not necessarily for a corporation governed by the laws of the state. To say otherwise is close to the same sort of reasoning that has led some Christians to think that a president of a country should never defend its citizens, because the Bible says individual believers should turn the other cheek.

But we totally agree that it is a shame for Christians to have to use secular authorities - as Paul said, they should be able to sort things out ecclesiastically. That should be something they agreed to ages ago, not just after it's clear that we will be taking them to court.

We are deeply concerned that a para-church ministry would refuse Christian arbitration and then decide to sue brothers in Christ with a lawsuit, thus disobeying the Spirit of God's instructions in I Corinthians 6.

AiG encourages people to be like the Bereans in the Book of Acts and read these two passages for themselves.

CMI comment: As part of this process, the whole counsel of God should be considered. As part of this, please consider: Why CMI-Australia is holding AiG-US legally accountable for its actions ( ) Note that we have documentation of a written legal threat by AiG-US against us, so this position that it is always under any circumstances 'disobeying the Spirit of God' appears to be a position of current convenience. (Obviously, every Christian corporation potentially relies on the power of the law when it goes into any sort of contract, or registers a trademark, or gives a copyright warning on its work, for example. The point is the desire to sort it out between brethren if at all possible, and this is where the problem has been, as the Briese documentation makes clear.)

Our heart is particularly sad for the churches and pastors, and even book distributors, in Australia who have also been warned or threatened with legal action by CMI for their affiliation with AiG-USA. Notwithstanding the myriad of details about the issues involved, this legal threat by CMI against churches and others constitutes a serious disobedience to our God.

CMI comment: Note: 'notwithstanding the myriad of details about the issues involved'. In other words, if the reader were apprised of these it would not be as AiG-US insinuates. AiG-US's attempts to act deceptively in Australia by passing themselves off as Answers in Genesis in Australia when many (most?) still think of CMI as 'AiG' here, will be resisted, with good justification to avoid confusion (trademark law protects against such deception / trading off confusion). If AiG-US would walk in the light, it would not be trying to further undermine CMI-Australia by ruthless commercial actions, on top of what it has already done. This whole matter being raised by AiG-US to paint us in a bad light is also addressed in the Briese report. This judicial analysis is based on the documents, most of them exchanges between CMI and AiG-US, not on hearsay, emotive rhetoric or 'spin'.

AiG is committed to honoring God and His Word. We covet your prayers during these trying days. Yet, the Lord be praised.

CMI comment: It would bring a real, tangible blessing to us if AiG-US would really honour the whole of God's Word, including such strong admonitions as Micah 6:8 (God calls us to do justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with God).

If you have questions concerning the basics of this issue, please call Mark Looy, AiG's chief communications officer, at (859) 727-2222, ext. 450 (please note that AiG is in the eastern time zone). If you have theological questions concerning our understanding of the Scriptures as they relate to this issue, please contact our board chairman, Pastor Don Landis (through Mark, who will pass it on to Pastor Landis).

[Lippard comment: Note that Landis is the man who, in a letter to Carl Wieland, asked him if he had any undisclosed sins that might be causing this dispute, such as taking too many medications or being involved with pornography (quoted in the Briese report). That's a tactic that reminds me of the Church of Scientology's "sec check" procedure!]

CMI comment: If you contact Mr Looy, or Mr Landis, could you please get them to put their comments in writing (print) so that what is said can be tested to ascertain that you are being told the truth, or given accurate exegesis? Proverbs 18:17. Sadly, many have been just too willing to believe what they are told without checking it out (be good Bereans as AiG-US has said!). In fact, one of the tragedies in all of this has been that AiG-US's standard pattern has been to ask people to 'contact us and you'll get the facts'-but always declining if asked if a CMI person could be there to give the other side of the story. And/or people are sworn to secrecy not to reveal to CMI what they are told. Which is why it was so important to have the open (Briese) enquiry at last, where evidence could be presented, and tested at cross-examination.

We plead with you to help us inhibit this unbiblical internet gossip and rumor mill by contacting us directly and/or simply committing it in prayer to the Lord. Thank you.

CMI comment: What CMI has put on the Internet is not gossip or rumor. No one has demonstrated any factual error in what we have made available, and as we have said, if anyone will demonstrate such error we will correct anything we have written and we are sure Mr Briese would also. It is 'whispering' in telephone calls, swearing people to secrecy, as has been the pattern, that is gossip by definition, and that generates dark deeds and poisons relationships. So people are being urged to avoid gossip by partaking of gossip! We have with tears pleaded and pleaded for even the courtesy of open meeting for resolution, yet now we see this document that claims the very opposite, as if black is white, and good evil. Enough! If we had had the chance to talk all together in the open, even once, then maybe AiG's Board, or at least some of them, might have come to see how seriously 'filtered' their understanding of events is. Sadly, this was never once permitted.


Board of Directors
Answers in Genesis -USA

Pastor Don Landis, Chairman
Dan Chin, Vice Chairman
Dr. Mark Jackson
Dan Manthei
Tim Dudley

With sadness, but resolved to see righteousness reign,

The Board of Directors,
Creation Ministries International (Australia)

Kerry Boettcher, Chairman
Dr David Christie
Rev. Dr. Don Hardgrave
Carolyn McPherson
Dr Carl Wieland