About this Author
Ernest Miller Ernest Miller pursues research and writing on cyberlaw, intellectual property, and First Amendment issues. Mr. Miller attended the U.S. Naval Academy before attending Yale Law School, where he was president and co-founder of the Law and Technology Society, and founded the technology law and policy news site LawMeme. He is a fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Ernest Miller's blog postings can also be found @

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July 01, 2005

What the Hell is Wrong with HealthSpace Cleveland?

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Posted by Ernest Miller

HealthSpace Cleveland, formerly the Health Museum of Cleveland, has a long and proud history of educating the public about health (History of the Health Museum of Cleveland).

The first of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, The Health Museum of Cleveland was founded in 1936 by the president of Cleveland’s Academy of Medicine and a dedicated group of physicians, dentists and community leaders. The museum opened its doors to the public in 1940 and since that time has provided health education and information in a museum setting.
I highly doubt that the founders of the museum would be terribly happy with what the museum's board is up to now.

Reported by Cleveland's Plain Dealer, HealthSpace Cleveland will be hosting a faith healing mass by Catholic faith healer Dr. Issam Nemeh (Faith Healer to be at Health Museum).

The Cleveland health education museum will open its doors to faith healer Dr. Issam Nemeh on July 10, creating an unusual venue for a purported miracle healing service.

HealthSpace Cleveland waived the customary $5,000 rental fee for Nemeh, said Patricia Horvath, the executive director.

"We decided not to charge them because a number of board members are supporters of Dr. Nemeh's work," Horvath said.

Supporters of his work, huh? The Plain Dealer also has an extensive article about Dr. Nemeh's work: Healer's Past as Physician Marked by Career Woes.
Nemeh, who draws thousands to suburban Cleveland churches, had hopscotched Europe looking for a medical specialty before landing in Cleveland in 1982.

He applied unsuccessfully for residency positions here, according to a court document. Then a doctor put in a good word for him at Fairview Hospital. The Syrian-born Nemeh, who graduated from medical school in Katowice, Poland, began a surgical residency at Fairview in 1985. The job paid $20,750.

After Nemeh served three years in the five-year program, the hospital kicked him out, a move that set off a legal battle.

Doctors at Fairview said in an evaluation that Nemeh's knowledge was poor "and his ability to perform on the ward as well as in the operating room remains poor," the court record says. They said that he missed seminars and that he didn't study enough.

Nemeh had twice scored among the lowest 2 percent in the nation on an annual residency exam, according to sworn statements.

Dr. Nemeh's popularity has increased thanks to less than incredulous reporting by a local television station:
Channel 5's Henry [anchor Ted Henry] reported in February that Nemeh's team "has achieved an astonishing rate of success in treating thousands of seriously ill people."
Other news organizations have been similarly unskeptical. The Akron Beacon Journal's had this report (Doctor's Prayers Seen as Healing).
Nemeh is licensed in Ohio as a cardiothoracic anesthesiologist. He completed medical school in Poland and came to the United States in 1982. He served for several years as the chief anesthesiologist at Richmond Heights Hospital and with the since-disbanded Oaktree Physicians group at Southwest General Health Center in Middleburg Heights.
The Plain Dealer disputes this:
He left Huron in 1991 and worked as an anesthesiologist at Richmond General Hospital. Last March, Cathy Nemeh told The Plain Dealer that her husband had been head of anesthesiology at the Richmond Heights hospital.

Hospital officials could not confirm that. They said he worked there four months and was not an employee.

Read the Plain Dealer articles, they reveal even more about how ridiculous this is.

via Pharyngula

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Evolution

June 23, 2005

June 13, 2005

Intelligent Design: It's Not Just for Biology Anymore

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Posted by Ernest Miller

First they came after biology
and I did not speak out
because I was not a biologist

Then they came after geology
and I did not speak out
because I was not a geologist

Then they came after astronomy
and I did not speak out
because I was not an astronomer

They they came after my discipline
and there was no one left
to speak out for my discipline.

The anti-evolution, pro-intelligent design Discovery Institute reveals that it is not simply Darwin's theory that is in their crosshairs, but virtually all of science (New York Times Should Screen "Privileged Planet" for Its Staff):

Although much of the public controversy over intelligent design has focused on the application of design to biology, it's important to remember that design theory itself reaches well beyond biology, and that some of the strongest evidence for design comes from such fields as physics, astronomy, and cosmology.
When they go after these other disciplines they're going to use the same bogus arguments and reasoning that they've used in their assault on evolution. "Teach the controversy." "There are holes in the theory, they can't answer everything." "It's only a theory, not a fact." "You can't prove it." If we don't stop them from corrupting science in the biology classroon, how are we to stop them from corrupting science in the entire curriculum?

Read more at Pharyngula (A New Recruit).

Comments (7) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Evolution

June 08, 2005

May 27, 2005

Gelernter Advocates Teaching the Bible as Literature: Good Idea, Too Bad That's Not What He Really Intends

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Posted by Ernest Miller

In the LA Times (reg. req.), computer science professor and conservative commentator David Gelernter argues that the Bible should be taught in public schools (Why the Bible Belongs in America's Public Schools). He makes the standard arguments that it is important to know the Bible in order to understand American history and literature. He's absolutely right. He's also right that it would be perfectly constitutional to teach the Bible in public schools as literature. In fact, I agree that we should teach the Bible as literature in the public schools. Indeed, I've recently been studying the Bible as literature myself.

The problem is, however, that I think it unlikely that the "Bible as literature" would long remain that way. It is a struggle already to keep certain states from bringing in supernatural/mystical explanations for ecological diversity; how hard would it be to police the inevitable corruption of "Bible as literature" courses?

Teaching the Bible as literature is secular. However, Gelernter himself betrays that what he really wants is religious teaching in schools, not secular teaching.

And let's not be coy about the underlying cultural context. Bible-reading used to be routine in public schools. [Michael] Novak again: "Beginning about 1948, one Supreme Court case after another turned the judiciary (and the law schools) into aggressive enemies of religion in public life." The Bible began to seem tainted no matter how you planned to teach it.
Well, Bible-reading used to be routine, but it certainly wasn't secular. It was done in a religious context. The Supreme Court wasn't banning "Bible as literature" courses, but Bible as faintly camouflaged religious indoctrination. To characterize the courts as "enemies of religion" makes sense only if you intend to teach the Bible as religious document, not as secular literature.

Gelernter finishes his op-ed with this:

The great thundering secularist tide that swept the Bible out of public school education is about to turn. Tides always do. Odessa is a portent.
Once again, if you're teaching the Bible as literature, what you are doing is secular. If the Bible is being taught in a secular manner, how is it that the secularist tide will be turning? Wouldn't the secularist tide be rising higher? If not, it would be because religious teaching was being brought into the school.

As for citing Odessa, Texas as a sign of the shifting tide, what a surprise that such a conservative and religious community would make such a choice. The effort in Odessa was spearheaded by the National Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools, which states on the front page of their website that:

The world is watching to see if we will be motivated to impact our culture, to deal with the moral crises in our society, and reclaim our families and children.
And how, exactly, is a simple literature course supposed to do all that?

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Evolution | Freedom of Expression

May 16, 2005

Intelligent Design Theorist Removes Link to Critic (Me)

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Posted by Ernest Miller

Four days ago, I posted about Intelligent Design theorist William Dembski's blog post calling for bringing evolutionists before a government panel so the truth could be squeezed out of them (Borrowing a Page From Lysenko, Intelligent Design Theorist Demands Gov't. Hearings). I linked to his post (The Vise Strategy: Squeezing the Truth out of Darwinists) and provided a trackback. The trackback has been removed from Dembski's post. I was critical, certainly, but hardly abusive. I guess Dembski just doesn't appreciate criticism - a trackback to a critical posting on the Panda's Thumb was also removed (More evidence that the Kansas Kangaroo Court didn’t go well for ID). Thanks, arcticpenguin!

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (1) | Category: Evolution

May 13, 2005

May 12, 2005

Borrowing a Page From Lysenko, Intelligent Design Theorist Demands Gov't. Hearings

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Posted by Ernest Miller

Yesterday, I wrote a bit about the ongoing evolution/intelligent design/creationism debate ongoing in Kansas (Lysenko's Intelligent Design). Today, there is more evidence of the Lysenkoist tendancies among the intelligent design cognoscenti. From the intelligent design theorist William Dembski's blog, Uncommon Descent comes this interesting suggestion (including illustration) (The Vise Strategy: Squeezing the Truth out of Darwinists):

I therefore await the day when [evolution/intelligent design governmental] hearings are not voluntary but involve subpoenas that compel evolutionists to be deposed and interrogated at length on their views. There are ways for this to happen, and the wheels are in motion (e.g., Congressional hearings over the teaching of biology in federally funded high schools for military kids). For such hearings to have the desired effect, however, will require that evolutionists be asked the right questions.

What I propose, then, is a strategy for interrogating the Darwinists to, as it were, squeeze the truth out of them. For a glimpse of what I have in mind, see the examination of Eugenie Scott by Robert George before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (go here [PDF]). [link in original]

Lysenko would be all in favor, I think. Though even Lysenko might have shied away from torturing a stuffed toy version of Darwin to make his point.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Evolution

May 11, 2005

Lysenko's Intelligent Design

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Posted by Ernest Miller

Over on Slate, William Saletan has been following the evolution/intelligent design/creationist debate quite closely and rather perceptively. However, I have to find some fault with his latest article, What Matters in Kansas: The Evolution of Creationism. Saletan makes the point that science is slowly winning over the public creationists, who have slowly moved into the camps of the intelligent design debaters, accepting, generally, an earth billions of years old as well as microevolution (mutation and natural selection within species). Saletan sees this as creationist theory on the verge of collapse. Hopefully, he is right. However, I'm not so sure about his other conclusion:

Perversely, evolutionists refuse to facilitate this collapse. They prefer to dismiss ID proponents as dead-end Neanderthals. They complain, legitimately, that Calvert and Harris are trying to expand the definition of science beyond "natural explanations." But have you read the definition Calvert and Harris propose? It would define science as a continuous process of "observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena." Abstract creationism can't qualify for such scrutiny. Substantive creationism can't survive it. Or if it can, it should.

It's too bad liberals and scientists don't welcome this test. It's too bad they go around sneering, as censors of science often have, that the new theory is too radical, offensive, or embarrassing to be taken seriously. It's too bad they think good science consists of believing the right things. In the long view—the evolutionary view—good science consists of using evidence and experiment to find out whether what we thought was right is wrong. If they do that in Kansas, by whatever name, that's all that matters.

The problem is that what the intelligent design theorists are doing isn't science. To pretend that it is, in any fashion, is to capitulate to those who oppose science. Furthermore, can you imagine the misuse of any limited concession? Creationists and ID types all too frequently quote-mine to give the air of authority to their arguments.

Calvert and Harris define science as a continual process of "observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena." However, what they don't do is exclude supernatural phenomena from the definition. Without that, the rest is essentially meaningless. You are no longer engaged in trying to create an explanation of natural phenomena, you are seeking to support an ideology. Lysenko, I think, would agree.

Indeed, intelligent design has more in common with Lysenko then it does with creationism.

The science of genetics was denounced as reactionary, bourgeois, idealist and formalist. It was held to be contrary to the Marxist philosophy of dialectical materialism. Its stress on the relative stability of the gene was supposedly a denial of dialectical development as well as an assault on materialism. Its emphasis on internality was thought to be a rejection of the interconnectedness of every aspect of nature. Its notion of the randomness and indirectness of mutation was held to undercut both the determinism of natural processes and man's ability to shape nature in a purposeful way.
The only difference it would appear is that creationists and intelligent design types repudiate evolution as philosophically materialist and denying god, neither of which is true.

Lysenko believed in "observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena." It is just that it would all have to concur with the Marxist dialectic. Was Lysenko engaged in science? I think not. In the case of intelligent design, they promote the processes of science, just so long as it accepts supernatural explanations, which I note, isn't science anymore.

In theory, you can have scientific intelligent design theory. Let me know when someone comes up with one. Until then, their "science" is rightly repudiated.

Comments (7) + TrackBacks (1) | Category: Evolution | News