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Skeptics with Appeal PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Phil Plait   

We've had some wins and losses in the past year for skepticism. Some of these -- on both sides -- have been pretty big. Two of our big losses, for example, were Simon Singh's denial of his appeal to overturn an absurd UK libel ruling, and the firing of Chris Comer who did the horrifying act of trying to alert people about a science talk in Texas.

It turns out, the news may yet turn around for our two allies.

1) Simon has announced he will go for an oral reconsideration of his denial of appeal. Initially, he submitted a written application for the court to reconsider its findings about his libel case (where the British Chiropractic Association is suing him over his use of the word "bogus" in reference to the quackeriffic aspects of chiropractic), and that was turned down. An oral appeal is allowed, and that will happen on October 14. That's right after TAM London, and I just bet Simon will have something to say at that meeting. Well, what he's legally allowed to say, at least.

2) Chris Comer's case is a bit older, so to refresh your memory: in November 2007 she worked (note the tense) for the Texas Education Agency (TEA). She received an email announcing a talk by the wonderful Barbara Forrest, the topic of which was the Dover creationism trial and other encroachments of religion on science. Comer, noting that a lot of the people she knows would be interested in such a talk, forwarded the email to her colleagues.

The TEA then fired her, saying Comer abused her position at TEA to promote an anti-religious stance. It was a ridiculous accusation and clearly a political move, but they tried to cover their butts by saying they have to remain neutral on matters of religion versus science. Note that this is the Texas Education Agency. They have to remain neutral on the truth? Um, what?

Ms. Comer filed suit against the TEA saying this neutrality policy is actually a violation of the First Amendment, but a judge ruled against her.

Note: remind me to never, ever break a law in Texas.

Anyway, the good news is that Ms. Comer is appealing the decision. You can watch a short video about all this courtesy of the National Center for Science Education's YouTube channel.

I'm very glad to see both these skeptics are not going down without a fight. The forces of ignorance lurk around every corner, and we must continue to rail and rally against them.

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written by Otara, August 24, 2009
No doubt they're 'neutral' about the spaghetti monster as well.

Unfortunately I suspect it may not be personally very good for Ms Comer to fight this, unless she's being supported by donations and it doesnt drag on for very long. Kudos to her courage, I hope she wins.
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written by Alan3354, August 24, 2009
Texas is getting worse. They'll start teaching the bible in public schools here soon.

As the song says, "We gotta get outta this place..."

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Texas Justice?
written by Culmidon, August 24, 2009
Let's not forget that Texas is (to the best of my knowledge) the only state in the Union that will execute mentally handicapped prisoners. So that ruling really comes as no surprise.
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@culmidon, Lowly rated comment [Show]
Can't we just let Texas secede???
written by CasaRojo, August 24, 2009
http://www.texassecede.com/

Ya think Mexico would want them? Maybe Sarah Palin could be queen of TX. Can we offer a national referendum to that affect? No offense TX skeptics. My heart goes out to you.
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culmidon
written by Alan3354, August 24, 2009
Some of the mentally handicapped are executed in Texas.
Some are elected president.
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It Ain't Only Texas
written by Realitysage, August 24, 2009
Every state has legions who'd like to see prayer returned to the public schools. And it's a bit dubious pointing to a particular politician for their religious beliefs because every one of them are self appointed "God Blessers" including the current president who himself was a member of a whackjob church with a nutty racist pastor. It was only controversy that induced the president to quit after 20 years and join another church. The fact remains that about 90% of the population believe in God and an afterlife and also a huge percentage don't believe in evolution and hold the view that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old when they think humans and dinosaurs walked side by side. 4,000 years of religious indoctrination has created a stranglehold on humanity worldwide and sadly that's unlikely to change for many generations to come-if at all. Science helps but deities are much more appealing to the masses whose delusions of them include the promise of an eternity in paradise reunited with their deceased loved ones. (Personally, I wouldn't want to spend a 4 day weekend with my dead relatives let alone eternity!) Reality is so obvious yet the masses don't care when it comes to their religious views. It's a sort of mob rule. There's an irony in that many religious folks are otherwise quite intelligent. Buzz Aldrin took communion on the moon. And many consider him the most brilliant astronaut with his Doctorate in Science and exceptional navigational skills.
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So, Alan3354...
written by therealistmom, August 25, 2009
What did my daughter with Down syndrome do to you to deserve being compared to GWB? smilies/tongue.gif
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Jeremiah Wright
written by inquisitiveraven, August 25, 2009
In all fairness, after watching some of the videos that the church posted, I didn't get the impression that Obama's former pastor was racist, so much as angry about racism. Nutty I'll grant you although if I squint real hard and look at things from the right angle, I can kinda sorta see how one could go from the Tuskegee Syphilis Studies which, after all, did happen to believing in AIDS conspiracy theories. That said, he was apparently quote mined to make him look a lot nuttier than he was.

Just to make the point, I'd say that the gist of his post 9-11 sermons was "If you go around acting like a schoolyard bully, shoving people around, you shouldn't be shocked when someone shoves back." I can see some justification for a sermon like that. I don't see any justification for Falwell and Robertson's "It's all the fault of teh gheys and teh abortionists."
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written by BJB, September 03, 2009
The ironic part of the Chris Comer case is that the promoters of Intelligent Design claimed that ID was *not* religious in nature! Since the Texas court has found that being anti-ID is the same as being anti-religious, they are essentially agreeing with the findings of the Dover case. Of course, in order to be consistent, all teachers of evolution in Texas must now be fired for opposing a religious idea, Intelligent Design.
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