A Correction

I’ve come to an understanding that what one says is not necessarily what one will be reported to say. A chunk of that understanding came from my stint as a photojournalist working with reporters. It’s a hazard of life for those who become spokespersons. But the ways in which a reporter can get things wrong runs the gamut from “annoying but harmless” to “actionable”. Generally, I leave well enough alone for small stuff. But sometimes there needs to be a statement of correction.

An article on the Ekklesia site, Theologians and scientists welcome Intelligent Design ban, is overall a good report, and is especially welcome for pointing out how “intelligent design” is bad theology as well as non-science. But there’s a reference to me that overstates things.

Substantive evidence was given by leading scientists such as Robert Pennock (Michigan State University) and Wesley Elsberry (information project director for the US National Centre for Science Education) who are – in private life – both theists.

I did not “give evidence” in the Kitzmiller v. DASD case. I worked, as did many NCSE staff, as a consultant for the plaintiffs’ legal team. As such, I collected and prepared materials for use by expert witnesses and lawyers, offered commentary on arguments, and put in my two cents about issues. (The big thing was putting together comparisons of various drafts of the ID supplemental textbook and developing tables of arguments spanning creationism and intelligent design. I, along with NCSE Director Eugenie Scott, kept advocating keeping attention on the “two model” way of thinking and its relation to the “teach the controversy” tactic.) But I was not a witness giving testimony to the court. Sadly, I can’t claim to be a “leading scientist” — while I’ve been involved in scientific research for a good chunk of my adult life, it has mostly been in support roles. My Ph.D. is recent, and events intervening (see early posts in this weblog) have hampered my ability to get publications out. There are several in the pipeline, but they aren’t in the literature and don’t yet count. While it has been gratifying to have the respect of my peers when it comes to my field of specialization, there’s a lot more work I need to accomplish before I can accept “leading scientist” without demur. I doubt that Rob Pennock would feel comfy with the “leading scientist” label, either, as his gig has been philosophy of science.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a simple way of giving feedback to the Ekklesia folks.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

3 thoughts on “A Correction

  • 2005/12/22 at 2:01 pm
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    Wesley, despite your multiple disclaimers in this post I still want to offer my heartfelt thanks to you (and everyone else) who helped to fight this case. As for “events intervening”, which I take to mean your health, I have noticed how little you have talked about this recently and I earnestly hope that no news is good news. Regards, Jeremy Henty

  • 2005/12/22 at 3:03 pm
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    Thanks, Jeremy, that’s heartening. And, yes, no news is good news. I am taking a couple of medications, both of which reduce gut motility. I’m no longer having to take sulfa-type drugs or derivatives, definitely off the steroids, and no long-term use of antibiotics either. Plus, I’ve recently figured out that my long-time sensitivity to milk seems to be gone, too. A nice cup of hot chocolate is a luxury that I had to forego for over twenty years; now I can indulge a bit.

  • 2006/01/10 at 11:59 pm
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    Wesley – my apologies that we somewhat miscast you (and Rob) somewhat I’ll amend the Ekklesia story appropriately as soon as I get the chance. A further piece spelling out precisly how bad the theology of the IDers is will follow in the near future. And let me add my thanks to you too, while I’m here to make amends for an infelicity.

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