Setting the York Daily Record Straight, Again

Keith Pennock

We have made it well known that we wish the Dover Area School Board in Pennsylvania had taken our advice. This has been reiterated countless times–before, during and after the litigation and decision. (WE even recently published an entire book about the Dover decision, Traipsing Into Evolution.) Our long-standing policy has been to urge a more robust treatment of evolution in public schools, so that students might learn both the scientific weaknesses and strength’s of neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory and chemical origin-of-life scenarios. But this is NOT the path that was taken in Dover. This too has been communicated all throughout the Kitzmiller saga. But an article from two weeks ago in the York Daily Record shows that some folks. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

YDR reporter Lauri Lebo’s story discusses the return of a former board member to Dover Township to listen, and his attendance at a creationist seminar. Former Dover Area School Board member William Buckingham, who led the Board’s way in adopting its ill-fated policy, was a witness at the Kitzmiller trial. Lebo quoted Buckingham as stating (wrongly) that he had initially been encouraged by Discovery Institute staff to put the theory of intelligent design into Dover schools. In reality, Buckingham was contacted by Discovery Institute out of concern over the events that had already proceeded in Dover and in hopes that the Board would drop the matter.
Just this past week, the YDR printed a letter to the editor by attorney and former Discovery Institute law & policy analyst Seth Cooper:

Apr 6, 2006 —
Lauri Lebo’s recent article contains false assertions about my actions by former Dover school board member Bill Buckingham. Lebo’s article never consults my posted statement of Dec. 22, 2005, responding to the decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School Board. Therein I reiterated that no one at Discovery Institute ever encouraged anyone in Dover to choose the course they chose. Period.
According to Lebo’s article, Buckingham stated I was early on “supportive” of teaching the theory of intelligent design in Dover. This is categorically untrue. In my capacity as a legal and policy analyst for the Discovery Institute, I suggested in the strongest terms that the Dover board not require teaching of the theory of intelligent design. Instead, I reiterated Discovery Institute’s long-standing policy position that students be taught both the scientific strengths and weaknesses of neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory (and not be instructed in the alternative theory of intelligent design).
Buckingham’s statement that I sent him intelligent design resources is flatly false. I sent materials titled “Icons of Evolution,” containing only certain scientific criticisms of aspect’s of neo-Darwinian theory and the chemical origin of life. Those materials did not contain arguments for the theory of intelligent design, but were sent in hopes of steering him and Dover clear of the theory of intelligent design.
But Buckingham categorically ignored my most earnest recommendations. He instead followed the advice of Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center. Thompson, it turns out, introduced the intelligent design textbook “Of Pandas and People” to Buckingham and the Dover board. By the time the Dover board hired Thompson’s firm, the Dover board knew full well that the leading theorists and proponents of intelligent design did not support their actions. The textbook publisher never supported the Dover board or Thompson, either.
Seth Cooper

Fortunately, Dover is over and design is fine. The Darwin vs. design debate continues to pick up steam, as noted in recent articles in major scientific publications and newspapers. (See recent posts here and here.)

Keith Pennock