1. Why yet another weblog on divisive issues?
As a lawyer, I have an obligation to the system of justice to ensure that the best information and evidence is presented to legal decision makers. Those decision makers can include judges and juries, legislatures or members of the executive branch.
2. How does bad information hurt the legal system?
Severe miscarriages of justice can occur if judges and juries make decisions based on misleading scientific information. Furthermore, public policy and spending decisions are made by the legislatures of states and the federal government that fundamentally affect all of us. These decisions also affect our children and future generations. Whether the decision relates to nuclear power generation, high power electric power transmission lines, AIDS prevention and treatment, mold exposure, or medical malpractice, a bad decision can be costly and even deadly to individuals and harmful to society itself.
3. How do we know science is being misused?
Science is most likely to be misused when there is an agenda other than the truth of science at stake. Often in a courtroom, the truth of science is not at stake--winning the lawsuit is the goal. For example, breast implant litigation developed into a multibillion dollar industry based on junk science. Similarly, concerns such as fear of technology, fear of scientific materialism, achievement of political objectives such as education of schoolchildren can all apparently justify efforts to distort science to achieve those goals even if the distortion is false.
4. Why single out Intelligent Design in particular?
Intelligent Design is a paradigm of junk science and abuse of the legal system, both in court, at the local school board level and and at state and federal legislative and executive branches of government. Furthermore, Intelligent Design, and its Scientific Creationism parent, have both been spearheaded by lawyers, from William Jennings Bryan in the 1920S, through Wendell Bird in the 1970s , to Phillip E. Johnson, today. To rebut the spurious claims of these fellow members of the bar, a very large number of scientists have had to take time from productive research to deal with the issue. I feel the obligation to undo the damage these lawyers have done.
5. Isn't this simply a battle between conflicting worldviews: secular humanism and those who believe in a higher power?
No, although the argument by Intelligent Design advocates is typically framed that way. I intend to have serious discussions here demonstrating that Intelligent Design is poor theology and damages people religious beliefs as well as any harm it does to high quality science.
6. So, what are your religious beliefs?
Normally, this question should be irrelevant in determining the truth. However, part of the Intelligent Design movement is to conceal its religious underpinnings and to accuse someone else of doing that. You must be prepared to hold yourself up to the same scrutiny, if you accuse the Intelligent Design proponent of sneaking theology in science's clothing into the classroom. I am a practicing Roman Catholic.
7. Do you have any scientific background or training?
I am a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, an institution strongly oriented towards science and engineering. As part of my studies, I was required to take advanced courses in chemistry, physics, oceanography meteorology, electrical engineering and naval engineering. My mathematics courses included calculus and probability and statistics. While on active duty I had the opportunity to participate in marine biology and physical sciences experiments conducted in all regions of the world from both polar regions to equatorial regions. Do I have any advanced degrees in science and do I consider myself a scientist? Definitely, that answer is, "No."
Many of my court cases have required me to develop an expertise in a particular are of sci enc or medicine, including hazardous waste and pollution disposal issues, medical science such as the basis for interpretation of EKG's and a fairly developed knowledge of certain testing procedures such as GC/MS molecular analysis.I consider myself a consumer and beneficiary of applied science in many areas of my professional and personal life.
How do we contact you?
I can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org