“Intelligent design” creationism advocate Michael J. Behe is once again an expert witness in a court case, this time appearing on behalf of Wendell Bird’s side in ACSI v Stearns. So far, there are two documents available detailing his participation, his expert report, and his deposition by opposing counsel.
I haven’t had a look yet; I’ll try to get back to these later. In the meantime, you may want to have a look of your own.
Update: I’m looking at the deposition, so I’ll make some notes here as I go.
Behe was brought into the case by Wendell Bird. Bird was the guy who wrote a draft “balanced treatment” bill that was modified a bit by Paul Ellwanger, then became Act 590 in Arkansas in 1981, leading to the McLean v. Arkansas case. Another version of Bird’s proposed bill became law in Louisiana, eventually leading to the SCOTUS decision in Edwards v. Aguillard. Bird argued that case before the Supreme Court, IIRC.
Behe’s job assigned by Bird was to show that the textbooks on biology and physics met the educational standards of the state of California. This puts him behind the eight-ball three ways: Behe is not a biologist, is not a physicist, and is not credentialed in education. I wonder if the rest of the deposition will bring that out.
Behe notes that biochemistry students often do not have a biology background, since the biology courses are not required of chemistry students who are the typical people enrolled there.
Bird has to rescue Behe on distinguishing between the documents that cover high school criteria and those for UC admission.
Behe’s method for comparing texts and declaring them satisfactory was simply that they addressed, in some form, the majority of items in the standards. In other words, pretty much completely a subjective evaluation, only as good as Behe’s own credibility in this task.
Behe also states that he expects to offer testimony significantly beyond the content of his expert report.
Behe states that his method of comparison was not completely presented in his expert report, which says that he looked for, essentially, the mention of a concept in each textbook. Behe says that he actually did evaluate the presentation as to whether a high school biology student would understand it from its presentation in the textbook at hand.
Behe has not taught high school biology. His understanding of what high school students understand, or don’t, comes from haphazard experience in teaching college freshman.
Behe was asked about having looked at high school textbooks previously. He says he did, and that he looked at entire books, not just sections of particular interest. He also says he gave testimony before the Texas state board of education about 5 or 6 years ago, and may have said something about his opinions of them at that time. I think that deserves some digging to see if his exact testimony can be located.
Behe’s experience in learning the limits of knowledge of former high school students was limited to his “popular arguments on evolution” course and a technical writing course.