Thursday, December 14, 2006

Plagiarism

Last year, while still living in Utah, a bill was proposed in the state legislature that would have required a statement to be read in science classes. The statement basically said that evolution is a theory and that there are other theories that attempt to explain the origin of life. The bill created quite a bit of controversy and did not pass.

As I followed the bill during the legislative session I also read quite a bit of the back and forth regarding evolution and intelligent design. The discussions would become quite heated. Often, a court decision in Ohio would be brought up as proof that the bill had no chance of being held up in court. That decision was made by Judge John Jones in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case. Judge Jones wrote that Intelligent Design was not science and therefore should not be taught in science class.

However, there is a new report released by the Discovery Institute claiming that Judge Jones's judicial ruling is basically copied straight from a brief given to the judge by the ACLU one month prior to Judge Jones writing his ruling.

I have not seen this reported anywhere else other than by the Discovery Institute itself, which as a very vocal proponent of Intelligent Design across the country, clearly has something to gain by discrediting Judge Jones's ruling. So I will be following this story to check for its validity.

However, if true, I hope that Judge Jones is reprimanded and that the case is heard again.

UPDATE: Here is another analysis of the plagiarized ruling.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I wouldn't blame the judge for "plagiarizing" the ACLU. This is such a stupid case and is so frivolous that a judge should not have to spend his valuable time writing an opinion.

Creationism or intelligent design or whatever the current PR spin calls it is definitely not science, has nothing whatever to do with science, and the public schools should not mention the existence of such ridiculous belief systems in the public schools. If parents want to teach their children this nonsense, they have ever right to go ahead and be irresponsible.

Schools should teach science and if the kids discover that their parents are feeding them a line of unvarnished hokum about 6-day creation and the young earth then they will come to know how dumb their parents are. That's the risk parents assume when they lie to their children.

Cameron said...

Really? You're ok with a judge copying word for word the work of someone else in a court decision? Take a step back from your anti-religion bias and think about the implications of what just happened. Would you feel the same way if this judge had used word for word the work of the Discovery Institute? I doubt you would.

This judge has made a mockery of the judicial system. All those ACLU bashers out there have just been given a ton of ammunition. Not only do they sue everyone, but then they get to write the court's decision too. It's outrageous.

Your defense of this judge is defenseless. "...a judge should not have to spend his valuable time writing an opinion." Are you kidding?!

What has really happened here is the opinions of the ACLU have been cloaked in the respectability and impartiality of a United States judge. This judge is now branded an ACLU stooge. Every "impartial" ruling he has handed down is now called into question. Who else has been writing his opinions for him?

And you, Democracy Lover, in your defense of this judge's actions, have proven yourself to be willing to defend anything as long as it attacks religion. Your written defense here proves it. You gave no evidence of your support beyond the fact that Intelligent Design is promoted by the religious and therefore must be false. You don't care about democracy. You don't care about our judicial system's integrity. You hate religion. That's what you care about.

Anonymous said...

No, if the judge copied word for word from a religious-front group in making a decision that contravened the Constitution, I would not like it. That's not what happened here.

The mockery made of the judicial system is people filing frivolous lawsuits. When a judge is forced to waste time on such, he/she should just simply dismiss it with no comment. I agree it would have been better to simply dismiss the suit with prejudice and charge the plaintiffs the court costs. That might do more to discourage such trivia in the future.

Getting worked up about "plagiarism" is silly. If the judge had found for the plaintiffs and copied a bunch of Discovery Institute claptrap, you would not be complaining, so get off the high horse now.

Cameron said...

It seems your understanding of the case is lacking. The Dover Area School Board passed a resolution requiring a statement be read in science class. With the help of the ACLU and others, parents of children in the school district sued. These parents, along with groups like the ACLU, were the plaintiffs. Additionally, since the judge ruled in favor of the ACLU, the district was required to pay over $1 million in court fees.

So again, when a plaintiff is allowed to sue somone and write the decision for the judge, it calls into question the impartiality of said judge.

My response to this situation would be unchanged if the roles were reversed and the judge had copied his decision from the defendants. Your opinion, it seems, is dependant upon who gets to write the judge's opinion for him.

Anonymous said...

My opinion is based on the ridiculous nature of this controversy. To set the biblical creation story up as some kind of alternative scientific theory is so ridiculous that any school board or legislature affirming such nonsense is so clearly violating the Constitution and common sense that the court system should not waste their time adjudicating the matter. They should simply decide against the pseudo-science malefactors. Whether they quote at length from someone else in the process is really beside the point.

If Christians have no higher calling than to get themselves in a lather because their children may actually learn the truth about science or history in the public schools, then there really isn't much left to the religion.

Cameron said...

Whether they quote at length from someone else...

He didn't "quote" from anyone. He copied the plaintiff's words and called them his own. I believe it is wrong for a judge to do that. It really has nothing to do with religion or creationism or science. It has everything to do with the integrity of the judicial system.

Anonymous said...

I only wish there were as much concern about the integrity of the educational system as there is about the integrity of the judicial system.

Cameron said...

Sheesh. I half expect you to say "I know you are but what am I" now.

Stop trying to divert attention from the issue. This judge is in the wrong. You know it. I know it. Your partisan, religion hating ideologies are preventing you from admitting it.

If you have some reason for supporting this judge's plagiarism other than that you hate religion please share it.

Anonymous said...

If you have any reason for being concerned about this particular judge and his alleged plagiarism other than the nature of his ruling, please share it.

I don't know of any law requiring judges to identify sources of material they quote in a ruling. It is helpful and courteous to do so, but I don't know that they are obligated to, nor do I think it matters. What matters is whether the judge rules properly and clearly.

Cameron said...

My reason for spotlighting this case is quite clear. I have spelled it out for you over and over again.

The judge used the work of the plaintiffs in a case he was hearing. In a 100+ page opinion that cost the defendants over a million dollars, as well as having the opinion touted across the country as the final verdict in a hotly contested public debate, it has been found that in reality the plaintiffs were the real authors. You don't find that just a little fishy?

I've said that my reaction would be the same had the judge ruled in favor of the school district and copied and pasted the district's arguments as his own. Would you be so quick to condone his actions were that the case? I've asked that before, and your answer was no. So I am left with your assertion that it's ok for our judges to take their opinions word for word from the ACLU, but not from anyone else. I guess the ACLU is the only organization that has the wisdom to write the legal opinions of our country.

Anonymous said...

If he finds for the plaintiffs in a cut and dried case, then what's wrong with quoting them in his opinion? Should he have acknowledged the source? Probably. Is it a big deal? No.

Again, I really doubt this is the only case in which a judge has done something like this, and I doubt you would have even noticed this had it not been grabbed onto by anti-science groups as a ploy to discredit the judge.

Cameron said...

Here is the opinion of a supporter of the Dover decision. He, however, does not support the judge's plagiarism either.

In your continued support of the plagiarism, you show your own hypocrisy. You have stated that you support the judge plagiarising the ACLU for his decision, but you would not support it if he had plagiarized from the defendants.

That is the very definition of hypocrisy.

Parklife said...

"evolution is a theory"

Thats funny.. You know what else is a theory? Gravity. Good luck with that whole "reason" thing Utah.