Posted on January 08, 2015 * Comments

John T. ScopesJohn T. Scopes

What, specifically, were the grounds for Scopes’s appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court? That was the question that I began to address in part 1, relying on a copy (big PDF) of the brief at the Clarence Darrow Digital Collection of the University of Minnesota’s Law Library. I started to transcribe the headings in the “assignment of errors” from the brief submitted to the Tennessee Supreme Court by Scopes’s lawyers here—there are ten in all—and offer running commentary. (Because these are headings, they are set all in capitals; for the sake of legibility, I’ve transcribed them as regular text, so except for the capitals at the beginning of sentences, the capitalization is inferred. For explanations of the “motion to quash the indictment” and the “demurrer thereto” and “the defendant’s motion for a new trial,” consult part 1.) I addressed only the first three in part 1, and only the next four in part 2, so here are the final three.

Posted on January 06, 2015 * Comments

John T. ScopesJohn T. Scopes

What, specifically, were the grounds for Scopes’s appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court? That was the question that I began to address in part 1, relying on a copy (big PDF) of the brief at the Clarence Darrow Digital Collection of the University of Minnesota’s Law Library. I started to transcribe the headings in the “assignment of errors” from the brief submitted to the Tennessee Supreme Court by Scopes’s lawyers here—there are ten in all—and offer running commentary. (Because these are headings, they are set all in capitals; for the sake of legibility, I’ve transcribed them as regular text, so except for the capitals at the beginning of sentences, the capitalization is inferred. For explanations of the “motion to quash the indictment” and the “demurrer thereto” and “the defendant’s motion for a new trial,” consult part 1.) I addressed only the first three of the ten in part 1, so here are the next four.

Posted on January 05, 2015 * Comments

I interviewed for my post at NCSE in the wake of the Bill Nye/Ken Ham hullabaloo (which Josh Rosenau reviewed here), so watching the whole 2.5-hour-plus affair was part of my preparation. Looking back at my notes still makes me laugh, since there are all kinds of “what!?!?!”s and “this makes no sense”s.

Posted on January 05, 2015 * Comments

This past week on Fossil Friday, I gave you a final fossil to kiss Fossil Friday goodbye. There were many guesses, but the answer was a huge hypostome (the plate that covered the mouth) from a trilobite. Yikes—that fellow from the Ordovician Kope Formation in Northern Kentucky would have been 2 feet long. Talk about a kiss of death!

Posted on January 02, 2015 * Comments

Hey, Fossil Friday Friends! Welcome to 2015! Well, I have some good news and some bad news for all your fossil addicts out there. First the bad news: Fossil Friday is going to come to a close. After a year and half of fossil-friendly blogging, I’ve run low on my fossils—would you believe there are only so many times I can run a sloth tooth?

Posted on January 01, 2015 * Comments

John T. ScopesJohn T. Scopes

As I realized in responding to a comment from John Harshman, my discussion of the appeal in the Scopes case (“Flubbing the Appeal in Scopes” part 1 and part 2) neglected to describe the legal arguments of Scopes’s brief. Harshman asked, “Wasn’t it foolish of the appellants to present any argument other than a constitutional one? The goal, after all, was to reach the Supreme Court. If the appeal were granted for any other reason (as it was), they’re screwed.” I replied, “the route to the Supreme Court wasn’t clear … [R]emember that this is two decades before Everson v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court decision establishing that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is binding on the states. The appellant’s brief therefore focused on Tennessee constitutional law—although not exclusively; the federal constitution was invoked at least twice.” I added, “Now I may have to write a piece about the details of the brief itself, which I neglected somewhat here.” So it would seem!

Posted on December 31, 2014 * Comments

“Six Little Snails” by E. GrisetSnips and snails? Sugar and spice? What drives some people to creationism, and others to accept evolution?

Posted on December 30, 2014 * Comments

My older daughter’s birthday is right before Christmas, and my younger daughter’s birthday just after. Last year, there was such a glut of gifts that we never even got around to getting some out of their boxes (which was actually quite handy since I was able to re-gift some back to the girls this year in addition to making big donations to local toy drives). Determined not to have a repeat this time around, the majority of the gifts under our tree took the form of the one thing you can’t have enough of: books.