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The Vise Strategy Revisited

Barbara Forrest, the official historian for the anti-ID side, has a piece of revisionist history in the latest Skeptical Inquirer (see here). It is titled “The Vise Strategy Undone.” Since I’m the inventor of the Vise Strategy and one of the principal targets of her piece, let me offer a few corrections:

(1) I wrote up the Vise Strategy for the Thomas More Law Center to assist them in interrogating the expert witnesses on the other side (for the full Vise Strategy go here; by the way, I gave this to the Thomas More people as a freebee). Forrest’s piece suggests that the Vise Strategy was tried and found wanting. In fact, the Thomas More attorneys never implemented it — compare the trial transcripts and depositions with the actual strategy. Advice is bad only if it is taken and found to fail. The Thomas More Law Center never took my advice.

(2) Forrest accuses me of withdrawing from the trial. Here are the facts: I’ve been the academic editor of the Foundation for Thought and Ethics (FTE) since 1997. FTE is the publisher of Pandas, the book in question in the Dover trial. Several weeks before I was to be deposed, my boss at FTE, Jon Buell, asked that I have an additional attorney representing FTE’s interests at the deposition. Moreover, I learned that Stephen Meyer was being permitted by Dick Thompson, the head of the Thomas More Law Center, to have an additional attorney present at his deposition to represent Discovery’s interests (even with that privilege, Meyer decided not to be deposed). Given that FTE had, in my view, more to lose than Discovery in this case, I asked the Thomas More Law Center to extend me the same courtesy that they were extending to Meyer. They refused. By this time FTE was insisting that I have an attorney present. This put me in a difficult position with my employer, so I told Thomas More I would allow myself to be deposed only if they permitted an attorney representing FTE’s interest to be present. It was at that point that they removed me as an expert witness. I was frankly looking forward to being deposed. As it is, we can expect there to be future trials where Forrest and I cross swords.

(3) Forrest, Ken Miller, and others seem to have a problem with my charging $200 per hour to be an expert witness in the Dover case and hold themselves up as examples of virtue in going it pro bono. I charged the Thomas More Law Center that amount because (i) I regarded this case as a loser from the start (Forrest correctly cites me in predicting only a 20% chance of victory in the case); (ii) I saw the Thomas More Law Center as a big part of the problem (they had incited the Dover School Board to stay with this case despite objections from anyone who was anyone in the design movement); (iii) Unlike Forrest and Miller, who have nice cushy jobs with tenure, at the time I came on as an expert witness for Thomas More, I was in the process of losing my job with Baylor.

(4) Forrest charges me with cowardice. This from a woman whose critique of ID has made her the darling of a secular elite that rules the academy. Has her job, salary, privilege, or social status ever in any way been compromised for her role as an ID critic? She wears her position as professional ID critic as a badge of honor. Indeed, her endowed professorship is just one of the many benefits she has received for assuming the role of ID critic (where would her career be without me?). Perhaps we can settle the matter of cowardice directly: let Forrest and me debate the merits of ID at a symposium spanning a day with each of us delivering two hour-long lectures and then going toe-to-toe in a final exchange.

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35 Responses to The Vise Strategy Revisited

  1. Perhaps we can settle the matter of cowardice directly: let Forrest and me debate the matter at a symposium spanning a day with each of us delivering two hour-long lectures and then going toe-to-toe in a final debate.

    Where do I get tickets?

  2. Yeah I can’t wait to see the response to this.

  3. Wow !! What a historian she is … she can’t even describe the history of the strategy accurately in relation to the case. How pathetic. It’s barely been a year. You’d think such a blunder was a result of centuries of lost documents and hearsay.

  4. Forrest needs to sit down, shut-it and then get back in the kitchen and fix me a chicken pot-pie.

    …did i say that out loud?

  5. “Forrest needs to sit down, shut-it and then get back in the kitchen and fix me a chicken pot-pie.

    …did i say that out loud?”

    Um….yeah, ya did. LOL.

    Okay, I’m already planning a road trip to see this Dembski/Forrest debate. Can we pin her to a date?? Seriously…

  6. Thanks a lot Bill for your willingness to say what is true and to stick to it even when in causes you and your family pain. We are all very proud of you and thankful for you.

  7. “We are all very proud of you and thankful for you.”

    I second that!

  8. Barbara Forrest has as much interest in reality as Kim Jong Il. Both have the same attitude. Both think lying is a virtue. And both are nothing but fluff-n-stuff.

  9. Barbara looks so sweet in the photograph.

  10. By the way, I hope we have all checked out ID proponent Stephen Jones (the Aussie, not the Brit) on “What would Jesus Blog” http://creationevolutiondesign.....og_19.html He is a very insightful man.

  11. “Creationism and Intelligent Design Watch”

    Sounds scary being watched like criminals or something.

    Anyways, let’s see Mrs. Forrest take on Dr. Dembski – yea right. I think she’s smart enough to just rewrite history from her computer than to go toe to toe w/ the WmADizzle.

  12. Perhaps we can settle the matter of cowardice directly: let Forrest and me debate the matter at a symposium spanning a day with each of us delivering two hour-long lectures and then going toe-to-toe in a final exchange.

    *gasps* Bill! Don’t you know that Eugenie Scott advised evolutionists NOT to debate “creationists”?
    Seeing how easily Stephen Meyer defeated Peter Ward in the two debates they had, and how history is clearly not on the Darwinain side when it comes to debating evolution-skeptics, I think Barbara will not engage you in a “téte-téte”. She would rather send firy darts at you from her cushy sofa and her even cushier tenured job.

    The only time evolution-skepticss can “smoke out” evolutionists is when evolutionists are about to loose their monopoly in public schools. THEN evolutionists come out and “defend” their religious myth.

    But anyway, I would love to see Barbara Forrest debating you. Let’s wait and see if she has the courage to stand up for evolutionism in such a fashion.

  13. Babs:
    My Role in the Kitzmiller Trial

    Was to lie with a straight face. It is really too bad that the Thomas Moore center didn’t listen to Bill. I would have drilled her relentlessly once she spewed that ID requires the supernatural.

    All she said was “That is my understanding”

    Joseph:
    Ms Forrest. Do you know of the Discovery Institute?

    Babs:
    Yes

    Joseph:
    Are you aware they have a website?

    Babs:
    Yes

    Joseph:
    Are you aware the DI has an ID FAQ?

    Babs:
    Yes

    Joseph:
    Have you read that FAQ?

    Babs:
    Yes

    Joseph:
    Then you are aware their ID FAQ states that ID does NOT require the supernatural

    Babs:
    Yes, that is what they say

    Joseph:
    Is there any ID literature written by ID proponents that say ID requires the supernatural?

    Babs:
    Not that I am aware of

    Joseph:
    Well then Ms Forrest, how did you reach the understanding that ID requires the supernatural?

    Babs:
    It just does

    (Judge Jones, waking from his nap, nods in agreeement)

  14. Anyone want to start a betting pool on whether or not Forrest chickens out?

  15. Another good requirement for the debate is for the people to be able to direct the question to the debaters without “intermediates”. I say this bkz in the last debate between Dr Steven Meyer and Dr Peter Ward, the moderator was “filtering” the questions. Only God knows what kind of questions he left out.

  16. I just emailed Professor Forrest and copied all the usual suspects (Dawkins, Miller, Scott, Dennet, Pennock, Padian, Elsberry, etc.) notifying her of Bill’s debate challenge. Elsberry has my email address blocked so that bounced right away but everyone else should get it.

    Now it can’t be said she wasn’t made aware of challenge. We shall see if her bite is as strong as her bark.

  17. “Now it can’t be said she wasn’t made aware of challenge. We shall see if her bite is as strong as her bark. ”

    Far out…

    As much as I’m dying to see this debate, it’ll never happen. Eugenie is probably on the phone with Babs right now warning her of all the evils of debating a “creationist”. sigh…

  18. “Anyone want to start a betting pool on whether or not Forrest chickens out?”

    I say no way the challenge is accepted. I imagine a response will get around to Dr. Dembski sometime after Christmas, saying something to the effect of “real scientists don’t engage in such things as debate” It will seem weak, it will be weak, and all the usual suspects will applaud her for “taking the high road” and then point their guns at Dr. Dembski, per usual. So I say within 5 days it’s over and no debate. Hope I’m wrong.

  19. “I second that!”

    me three

  20. If there is a debate both should be hooked to shock potential. Tell a lie, get a shock- oh and I get to control the switch… ;)

  21. Forrest needs to sit down, shut-it…

    I agree with that much. As a hayseed philosopher at backwater u, Forrest is not even worthy of a footnote.

  22. Barbara Forrest would never accept a debate with William Dembski. She is so more profoundly wise and insightful than he, by debating him she might give tacit credence to his views by admitting that they are worth debating.

    In addition, Barbara is so knowledgeable about mathematics, information theory, computer science, and hard science in general, that she might make a fool out of Bill. She wouldn’t think about lowering herself to this level — taking on a totally defenseless opponent and beating him mercilessly into a bloody pulp — since she is such a compassionate, tolerant, self-sacrificing, secular humanist.

    I’m joining Davescot’s pool. I’m giving 100 to 1 odds that Babs chickens out (for benevolent and purely altruistic reasons, of course).

  23. Another interesting thing that could be added to the debate, is to allow the debators to cross-examine each other.

    I say this bkz, many times, we, the layman, can’t make the right questions, while people (scientists) from both sides can spot the fallacies, false reasoning, circular logic and other problems in the opponent’s theories. I would love if Bill was allowed to cross examine the debate oponent (and vice-versa).

    This happened in a debate between Dr Greg Bahsen and Dr Gordon Stein, a few years back, and it was great. Dr Bahsen could more easily spot the weakest points in Dr Stein’s arguements than a layman probably would.

    This debate format would also allow Bill to put into practise the “Vise Strategy”, and squeeze the truth out of Barbara “ID is Creationism” Forrest.

  24. “Seeing how easily Stephen Meyer defeated Peter Ward in the two debates they had, and how history is clearly not on the Darwinain side”

    Is this viewable anywhere?

    I saw Barbara Forrest only once in a news show about intelligent design and found her a real lightweight. She thinks in soundbites.

    By the way, although intelligent design does not require the supernatural, I think most proponenets do believe in the supernatural. Luckily, I don’t. I think it is simply a primitive idea based upon the fact that our bodily senses are locked into perceiving a small slice of reality. The little piece we can sense gives us the impression that it is the only solid and real bit. It’s like a two-dimensional being seeing evidence of 3D events, and calling it supernatural. The funny thing is, we ought to know better by now. In the past, it was more excusable to be fooled by appearances. Who woulda thunk that there was a whole mini universe of molecules and atoms and cells? Who could have known that we perceive a tiny bit of the electromagnetic spectrum?
    There is not a material world separate from the spiritual world. There is only the spiritual world. That is, there is one world (cosmos) and it is spiritual.

    In Him we live and move and have our being.

  25. Barbara reiterates worn out tunes. For her there is no question about the possibility of detecting ID scientifically, because by definition the cosmos is all there ever was all there is and all there ever will be. For her ID requires a higher power. Higher powers can’t be allowed if science is to survive. Either God dies or her concept of science dies. I’m putting my money on God surviving.

  26. avocationist:
    She thinks in soundbites.

    Which means she doesn’t think. Well that much is obvious…

    And about the supernatural, seeing that natural processes only exist IN nature, it is obvious that they cannot account for its origin. IOW even the materialistic anti-ID position requires something outside of nature.

    That is exactly how it should be presented during if someone else decides to take ID to Court.

  27. Hello Joseph,

    I’m aware of that argument, and it is a good one. However, I see nature as arising out of the nature of God, emanating from him/her, and I do not think that the idea of a separate realm for the two can be logically sustained. However, you might be right that in a courtroom type argument, that your point should be used. Because in one sense it is true. That sense being that matter/energy alone cannot cause itself nor be uncaused.

  28. Hello avocationist,

    I might be getting a bit too deep for myself, but if one considers nature to be a formal system, can nature ever be explained without going beyond nature?

    And if not, doesn’t that prove the existence of the supernatural i.e. something outside the system of nature?

  29. avocationist:
    However, I see nature as arising out of the nature of God, emanating from him/her, and I do not think that the idea of a separate realm for the two can be logically sustained.

    It took me a minute, but I understand your point. Excellent!-> “God” is nature and therefore does not exist outside of it.

    Merry Christmas!!!

  30. Merry Christmas to you all.

    Tribune,
    “I might be getting a bit too deep for myself, but if one considers nature to be a formal system, can nature ever be explained without going beyond nature?”

    It sounds interesting, but I do not know what a formal system is.

  31. It sounds interesting, but I do not know what a formal system is.

    OK, as noted it’s starting to get a bit beyond me, but as I understand it a formal system is a set of rules and a specified language.

    Now, if nature is formal system i.e. something governed by a set of rules with a specified language would you be able to use natural events to prove nature? Godel would seem to say no.

  32. And Merry Christmas.

  33. I don’t know Tribune. I read a little of the link. I just don’t have enough of a handle on this sort of thing. But I am not sure that I am trying to use natural events to prove nature. What I am saying is that nature must of necessity in some way arise out of the being of God, and that there is continuity between God and nature. If there were not continuity, then there could be no influence. So it is an unbroken continuum.

  34. What I am saying is that nature must of necessity in some way arise out of the being of God, and that there is continuity between God and nature.

    I think your perspective is interesting and I’m in agreement that the spiritual is the real but keep in mind that words have meanings and it’s important to recognize a demarcation between what we can rule (nature) and what we can’t.

  35. [...] P.S. I would also say that I’m looking forward to debating Barbara Forrest, but I’m giving 5 to 1 odds that she won’t even start negotiations for such an event, much less show. Since she has charged me of cowardice (see here), it will be interesting to see how this plays out. I’ve appointed DaveScot to negotiate details of the debate (take it away Dave!). These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

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