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A Conversation with Expelled's Associate Producer Mark Mathis

Roundtable Discussion with Scientific American and Mark Mathis



Photo by Kelly Engstrom

Editor's note: This story is part of a series "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed--Scientific American's Take."

On March 28, 2008, some of the editors of Scientific American watched a screening of Expelled at our offices and had a discussion with the associate producer* of the film, Mark Mathis.  This is the entire recording of the discussion, uncut.  The first voice you hear is John Rennie, the editor in chief of Scientific American.

*Note: Mark Mathis was originally identified as the associate editor of Expelled.

Other voices you will hear are 
- Steve Mirsky
- Phil Yam, News Editor for Scientific American Magazine, at 39 minutes, 46 seconds (5:17 of Part 2)
- Dan Schlenoff, Copy Editor, at 40:53 (6:24 of Part 2)
- Aaron Fagan, Copy Editor, at 67:46 (33:17 of Part 2) 

Part 1:

Download part 1

Part 2:
click to enable 

Download part 2

A couple of notes: 
At 63:11, (28:43 of Part 2) Rennie is reacting to Mathis, who turned to the rest of the editors and silently mimicked Rennie as he spoke.
 
One point requires response here.  Mathis charged that some 92 percent of the judge’s decision in the Dover intelligent design trial was copied directly from papers filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).  We said we would follow up and find out the truth.  We did.  In fact, Mathis was wrong in three ways.  One, even the Discovery Institute’s own charge is that the judge copied 90.9 percent of ACLU material for one specific section in the judge’s decision.  Second, a correct statistical workup finds that the number is as low as 35 percent, depending on whether you include material filed that is not included in the decision and the length of word strings.  But the most important point is one that I guessed at in the conversation.  We spoke to actual legal experts who told us that when the sides in a trial file their facts, it is with the hope that they make the case strongly enough for the judge to incorporate their texts into the finding of fact section of the decision.  Therefore the charges that Mathis makes against Judge Jones are both incorrect in detail and spurious in spirit.  For more information, you can go to footnote 88 in the Wikipedia entry on the Discovery Institute.  There’s more info on the permissibility of using filed facts in a decision at The Panda’s Thumb Web site, pandasthumb.org.  It’s an entry called "Weekend at Behe’s" dated December 12, 2006.

References:
http://vangogh.fdisk.net/~welsberr/kvd/
http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/12/weekend-at-behe.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discovery_Institute_intelligent_design_campaigns

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