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NCSE President in Berkeley Science Review


Kevin Padian, who serves as the president of NCSE's board of directors as well as a professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and a curator at the University of California Museum of Paleontology, is featured in the latest issue of Berkeley Science Review. The article, "In the matter of Berkeley v. Berkeley," focuses on the opposed roles played by Padian, one of the expert scientific witnesses for the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller v. Dover, and retired Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson, whose 1991 book Darwin on Trial is widely credited with introducing "intelligent design" to the general public.

Padian's appearance in the Kitzmiller trial is described entertainingly: "Far from being the dry and clinical expert, Padian peppered his day-long testimony with affectionate references to 'critters' and 'guys' and 'Paleozoic roadkill.' All kidding aside, much of Padian's testimony was dedicated to a detailed, point-by-point criticism of Of Pandas and People, the intelligent design textbook that was to be made available to Dover students." His frank assessment of the Dover policy was also quoted: "I think it makes people stupid. I think essentially it makes them ignorant. It confuses them unnecessarily about things that are well understood in science, about which there is no controversy."

Johnson told Berkeley Science Review that he had been dismayed both by the Dover Area School Board's policy mandating teachers to read a statement about evolution and "intelligent design" -- "a loser from the start," he called it -- and by President Bush's endorsement of the idea that "both sides ought to be properly taught." The reporter, however, was skeptical, remarking, "It's difficult to tell if Johnson is being completely forthright about wanting to stay out of politics and the public schools," citing a number of his previous remarks and actions that suggest otherwise, and concluding, alluding to the well-known Billy Joel song, "Johnson helped to start the fire."