Q. National Center for Science Education, NCSE, is a nonprofit group?
A. It's a nonprofit tax exempt group.
Q. And what is the mission of the NCSE?
A. The mission of NCSE is to clarify science for the public. Normally major people we clarify it for would be government officials, including education officials and school boards, parents, PTA's, members of the press, and individually concerned parents and community members.
Q. Is it a secret that NCSE has taken a position that creationism is not science?
A. Oh, that's no secret at all.
Q. Is it a secret that NCSE has taken a position that intelligent design is not science?
A. No, in that sense NCSE has aligned itself with the major scientific societies.
Q. And is it a secret that the National Academy of Science has taken a position that intelligent design is not science?
A. They certainly have done.
Q. Mr. Muise asked you about abrupt appearance, and he read a number of quotes from individuals. I believe they talked about, I don't remember the exact language, about relatively abrupt appearance in the Cambrian ear, and at one point you said the use of that abrupt appearance in scientific terms is different than the use abrupt appearance in intelligent design terms. Could you explain that, please?
A. Oh, yes, of course. When we say, if a scientist were to say that a form would evolve abruptly or appear abruptly, I mean it has the appearance, that is it seems as far as our record goes to happen very quickly. But abrupt appearance in going back to creation science parlance means something quite different. Wendell Bird for example, who is a lawyer and a conservative Christian anti-evolutionist attorney, wrote a book a couple of decades ago about abrupt appearance theory.
And so for him I mean it's a code word in the old style creation science, antecedent in many ways to the phraseology and the language that's often used in intelligent design that abrupt appearance means that you get these very complex groups, very distinct appearing at once, with no possibility of intermediates, certainly no evidence of intermediates in the fossil record, so that there's an implication there that there aren't ancestors and they aren't going to be found as opposed to a scientist who simply is making a statement about these things appear to come in just now as opposed to later or how rapidly.
Q. The Cambrian era lasted how long?
A. Oh, a few tens of millions of years.
Q. So when you see a bar on a chart and it starts in the Cambrian era, does that mean it was formed abruptly on a certain minute or day?
A. It means it's the first place where we find it. I should emphasize that the first appearance, the earliest appearance in the fossil record is for us a minimum early appearance because we may always be missing earlier ones, just like the last one is not necessarily the last critter to choke.
Q. But you're talking about many millions of years. So you're not talk about instantaneous appearance. You're talking about in a relatively short period of time which in geological terms is in millions of years?
A. If we look at the appearance in the fossil record of the major groups of marine animals, that appears over a sequence of millions of years.
Q. And in geologic terms that's abrupt?
A. It's really relatively fast. To give you an idea, the asteroid that hit the earth at the end of the Cretaceous period when the last dinosaurs that weren't birds and many other things died out is dated at something like 66.5 million years, plus or minus 40,000 years. That means that at a distance of 65 million years the best we can go is like 40,000 years either way for a determination. Now, 40,000 years is enough the take four ice ages, you know, from now back to the extinction of all the big Pleistocene mastodons and mammoths and Irish elks and things, do it four times and put it either way and collapse it into an instant, and we can't tell. That gives you an idea of somehow what the resolution of dating can often be.
Q. Mr. Muise, asked you about William Dembski.
Q. And he asked you about a book that Mr. Dembski published or contributed to.
Q. What book was that?
A. Is it called the Design of Life? I don't remember the --
Q. And that was published by an academic press?
Q. Cambridge Academic Press?
A. The Design Inference. Thank you.
Q. Is that the same thing as the peer reviewed publications you were discussing this morning?
A. Book publishers, even book publishers of scholarly presses publish a variety of different kinds of books. Some of them are very scholarly, some of them are not so. I happen to be on the board of editors of the University of California Press and I know sometimes they publish biographies or reminiscences or cookbooks or things like that, as well as scholarly books in semiotics and sociology and molecular biology or whatever they happen to do.
So just because it's published by a scholarly press doesn't necessarily tell you what the peer review is. Also, you don't know in a specific instance what kind of understanding authors and editors have about who or how something would be reviewed. If someone who is publishing a book in a scholarly press based on my experience with UC Press and many other presses I have worked with is any indication, and an editor at the book company, the press itself, is an acquisitions editor someone who would like to do business with the press.
And so the first concern is to public books that will be read, that will be good for the press to public, because they'll be discussed, one way or another drum up interest in the press, sell other books by the press. They certainly want to get scholarly works in there and they want to get things as right as they can, but you know, you're serving several masters, whereas in a scholarly journal an editor has a lot of submissions coming in, and he doesn't have to worry about selling journals.
If he does he's probably not running a very good journal because people in his field are going to go for it. So he can hold authors to a standard that says well, look, if the reviewers say that you can do it, and he sends them to anonymous reviewers for this reason. Now, I think something should be pointed out here is maybe Mr. Dembski's book was reviewed by people who know about math and probability theory.
I don't have a dog in that fight. I don't care or know anything about that stuff, but I do know that it's not biology. It wasn't published in a biology series, it has nothing to do with evolution biology, and so when someone said this is a peer reviewed contribution that bears on evolutionary biology, we say where's the beef.
Q. So there's a couple of points there. One is that this academic press is not subject to the same peer review as for instance you described that would occur at Nature or Science?
A. Not necessarily at all, right.
Q. And we don't know what the peer review was for that if any?
A. We don't know. I don't know. I have no personal knowledge.
Q. And second, does Dr. Behe have to your knowledge any kind of degree in biology?
A. I don't know what he has in biology. In terms of evolutionary biology or paleontology I mentioned I don't know of any expertise in that regard.
Q. I'm sorry, I'm thinking about Professor Behe already. I mean --
A. Oh, Professor Dembski. No, I'm not aware that he has any credentials in any of the natural sciences. I believe that mathematics and theology maybe, or divinity.
Q. And let me ask you that same question I asked before about the Pandas authors. Have you seen Mr. Dembski at any of the conferences that you attend?
Q. Have you ever seen any presentations by Mr. Dembski made at evolutionary biology or paleontology conferences?
A. No. I've never heard of him.
Q. Have you ever seen any publications in your field from Mr. Dembski?
Q. Mr. Muise asked you about a number of people, and in fact read you quotes from people. He mentioned Stephen J. Gould?
Q. And it seems the suggestion was that Stephen J. Gould had some problems with evolution. It seems that you knew Stephen J. Gould?
A. Yes. Well.
Q. And are you familiar with his writings?
A. Oh, yes.
Q. Was he someone who questioned evolution?
A. He certainly questioned the relative importance of various mechanisms and patterns in evolution, but not the idea that evolution had occurred or that organisms were related by common ancestry. That was a great theme of Gould's writing that he was always frustrated that anti-evolutionists were trying to make out that there was question about, among in the scientific community about whether evolution had in fact occurred, when really it was just a question of how important is punctuation versus slow and steady change and questions like that, but the overall fact and pattern of evolution was not in question.
Q. And are you aware of whether Stephen J. Gould ever testified as an expert witness in a case?
A. I believe he testified in McLean vs. Arkansas, was that right?
Q. And would that have been a trial in 1981 about scientific creationism?
A. Presided by Judge Overton I believe, yes.
Q. And was he an expert witness in that trial very much in the way you are an expert witness here today?
A. Yes, except he likes the Yankees and I like the Oakland A's.
Q. And in fact which side of the case did he testify on?
A. The Yankees. I'm sorry, he testified on the evolution side.
Q. And I believe Professor Gould was one of the proponents of punctuated equilibrium?
A. He and Niles Eldredge.
Q. I'm not going ask you to explain it. I know you've explained it to me before. I don't fully understand it, but is that an argument against evolution?
A. Not at all. It's simply an argument about what the pace of change is.
Q. And in fact scientists disagree about a whole lot of things, don't they?
A. Oh, yes.
Q. And they disagree about a lot of things within evolution?
A. Oh, yes.
Q. But that doesn't mean that they don't firmly believe in the basics of evolution?
A. Well, I wouldn't again use the word belief. I'd say that they accept it as the best explanation of things. My friends in the physical community argue about string theory. Some of them think it's good idea, some of them think it's nonsense. I have no idea what it is, but it's obviously something that keeps them going and it has ramifications for important understanding of the natural world.
Q. And Mr. Muise mentioned Ernst Mayr?
Q. And are you familiar with Mr. Mayr's work?
A. Yes, I knew Ernst Mayr and his work.
Q. Is he a proponent of evolution?
A. Well, I'd say he probably is recognized as one of the foremost evolutionary biologist of the 20th century.
Q. How about Robert Carroll?
A. Bob Carroll is an old friend, he's one of the deans of vertebrate paleontology. He's up at McGill university in Toronto.
Q. And are any of those individuals proponents of intelligent design?
MR. ROTHSCHILD: I have no further questions.
THE COURT: All right. Recross, Mr. Muise?
MR. MUISE: I have none, Your Honor.
THE COURT: All right. I thank you for your testimony, and you can have a safe trip back now with the cooperation of counsel getting your testimony in. We'll take up the exhibits in just a moment, but you may step down, sir. We thank you.
Thanks to Kevin Padian and his students Jann Vendetti, Liz Perotti, Brian Swartz, Randy Irmis, Jenny McGuire, Nick Pyenson, Alan Shabel, and Andrew Lee for assembling the original presentation, and to Brian Swartz for looking up copyright owners. Thanks also to Mike Hopkins and Alex Wing for help with organization and coding. The HTML coding of the transcripts is modified from the TalkOrigins Kitzmiller pages, formatted by Mike Hopkins. Thanks to Alex Wing, Larry Lerner, Mona Albano, and Kevin Padian for catching typos.