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.