Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on December 16, 2006 08:10 PM

Mathematician, theologian, and philosopher William A. Dembski branches out, now lending his vocal talents to a Flash animation taking a low-humor poke at federal district court judge John E. Jones III. Jones is represented as a pull-to-speak doll spouting snippets of his decision in a high-pitched voice with added farting noises, and various pro-science advocates (myself included) are represented as pulling the string. Dembski read aloud various portions of the 2005 decision of the court in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case, and then pitch-shifted up the result. Pitch-shifting in pop culture is most famously associated with David Seville, the stage name of Ross Bagdasarian, whose single, “Witch Doctor”, went to the top of the charts in 1958. Seville’s other pop culture contribution with pitch-shifting was The Chipmunks, the musical phenomenon that later became a cartoon franchise, with characters Alvin, Simon, and Theodore as the chipmunks and Seville as songwriter/manager/father figure.

The uncredited appearance of Dembski’s voice in the production was worked out by “After the Bar Closes” commenter “keiths” in this comment. Once his role in the production was out in public, Dembski posted a notice to his “Uncommon Descent” blog and also sent out an email to various “intelligent design” creationism critics saying that he’d like them to pass on his request to Judge Jones so that Jones could provide his own voice for their animation project. Dembski generously offered to reduce the frequency of farting noises if Jones agreed to participate. One of the email recipients was University of California at Berkeley professor and NCSE president Kevin Padian, the paleontologist whom Dembski compared to Archie Bunker based on inaccurate hearsay from someone who, it turned out, hadn’t even correctly identified whose lecture he had been listening to. Dembski offered Padian the opportunity to be included in the animated fart-fest if Padian would provide a clear photograph of himself.

This latest foray into “street theater”[*] by Dembski should have people asking the hard question: Is Dembski “the David Seville of Information Theory” or is he “the Isaac Newton of Street Theater”? Enquiring minds want to know.

[*] See Ed Brayton’s exposition on Dembski’s premiere “street theater” event.