Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Mainstream Media is Catching onto the ID Scam, DI Fumes

The mainstream press has finally caught onto the ID scam and its underhanded tactics with the phony "academic freedom" bills. Here's a nice article in the Washington Post that pretty much nails it:

"What's insidious about these measures is that at first blush they appear so harmless. Isn't everyone in favor of academic freedom? What's so wrong about allowing all sides of an issue to be heard? Why should teachers be punished for speaking their minds? Those arguments might have standing if there were any doubt about the reality of evolution, but, as an official with the National Academy of Sciences told the Wall Street Journal, 'There's no controversy.' Consider, also, that there really is no such thing as academic freedom in elementary and secondary education. A teacher can't deviate from the accepted curriculum to present alternative lesson plans or to offer his or her own notions. The Florida teachers association opposed the bills, though ostensibly they are meant to benefit educators. Clearly, the strategy is to devise an end run around legal decisions -- going all the way to the Supreme Court -- that restrict the teaching of creationism in public classrooms."

Right on the money. Yet John West of The Discovery Institute, keeps up the con and whines that the Post reporter just wasn't interested in the facts and that it's all just pro-Darwinist spin:

"Predictably, the Post asserts that the academic freedom bills are about “inviting creationism back into the classroom.” Except that they aren’t. In fact, the bills repeatedly and explicitly state that they only protect the presentation of scientific information, and that they don’t authorize the promotion of any religious doctrine."

Of course they don't, because the creationists lost that fight, so now they try to pretend that what they are pushing is the "science of Intelligent Design". Since ID is not religion, they would argue, it can properly be a part of the science curriculum, right next to evolution. And since Intelligent Design is creationism by a different name, dressed up in new legally palatable tux (they hoped), these bills do in fact invite creationism back into the classroom.

"I pointed this out to Ms. Armao in some detail. But it now turns out that the actual language of the bills didn’t matter to Ms. Armao. She already had the line she was going to take, and if the facts didn’t substantiate it, she obviously didn’t care."

Oh but the facts do substantiate it. The fact is that the people promoting these bills are creationists, and the only subject they seem to be concerned about is evolution. The fact is when asked if these bills would allow the discussion of ID in science classes, the backers of these bills are strangely silent. The fact is these people have associated themselves with Ben Stein's Expelled, which argues for Intelligent Design. And as that dying slagheap of a crockumentary, their behavior at the Dover trial, and most any other engagement with the ID crew demonstrates, they are not above misdirection and outright lying to accomplish their goals. If the only evidence you have on your side is your word, and your word has proven worthless, you don't have much of a case.

West is so desperate at being exposed that he even drags out that tired old "700 dissenting scientists against Darwin" canard, which research has revealed exaggerates the academic accomplishments and current positions of the listees, most of which are not educated in biology (the largest group is computer programmers). Further, many of them do not think they should be on the list, and felt very misled, and have actually asked to be removed from the list! And West wonders why "the actual language" the IDers use is not too relevant to people interested in reality.

And in a final indication of just how drained the DI crew is of substance, and revealing their creationist roots the just a few moments ago they were denying, West whines about the reporter being unimpressed by his:

"...list of scientific controversies involving key aspects of biological and chemical evolution, including the origin of the first life, the role of mutations, the limits of natural selection, and the origination of animal body plans during the Cambrian Explosion some 500 million years ago".

That should look familiar. It is a nice summary of all the standard creationist fallacies: how did abiogenesis happen, mutations are bad, selection only destroys, Cambrian creatures appear fully formed. Same old shit.

So far, the creationists have lost the battle of the "Academic Freedom Bills" in Florida, Alabama, and Missouri, with one dying in South Carolina. The wording of these bills is almost identical. Clearly there is a group behind the scenes behind this effort, and it shouldn't take one long to discern who it is. The guilty dog barks the loudest. So does the frustrated defeated one.


scripto said...

I can't believe he had the balls to bring up Lynn Margulis. That just brings up the fundamental difference as to how she went about gaining a measure of acceptance for her initially unpopular theory and how the design "theorists" go about gaining acceptance for their ideas.

He also says
"I gave Ms. Armao an entire list of scientific controversies involving key aspects of biological and chemical evolution, including the origin of the first life, the role of mutations, the limits of natural selection, and the origination of animal body plans during the Cambrian Explosion some 500 million years ago. Such controversies are already discussed in the mainstream scientific literature—but teachers are being forbidden in many places from telling students about them."

It is typical that he doesn't give links to any actual papers to support his contention. My guess is that they all focus on mechanism and timing rather than occurance, if they exist at all. Certainly nothing I can find supports a design inference. Nowhere in these "academic freedom" bills is there any indication how one would determine what constitutes a valid scientific controversy.

ScienceAvenger said...

Of course not, because there isn't one. And now it looks like everyone is catching on, though we still have to wait and see what happens in Louisiana.

alex said...

Hi Science Avenger,
I have a question on your statement, "And since Intelligent Design is creationism by a different name, dressed up in new legally palatable tux (they hoped), these bills do in fact invite creationism back into the classroom."

I can agree 100% with this. However, I am curious whether you mean "plain 'ol" Creationism, or Biblical Creationism.

Thanks in advance.

ScienceAvenger said...

I'm really not to concerned about parsing the different subsets of creationism, just like I'm not interested in parsing the variants of holocaust denial. If you are denying the science of evolution because of your religious views, and insisting that somewhere along the way the gods poofed forms of life into existence, you are a creationist in my book.

alex said...

How about poofing forms of rocks into existence? Or atomic particles? Or natural laws?

After all, even Darwin wrote, "I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance"

(I know, I know, I'm kind of asking you to parse different subsets of creationism. Sorry.)

contrarian said...

"Cambrian creatures appear fully formed. Same old shit."

Of interest:
"Thus, elucidating the materialistic basis of the Cambrian explosion has become more elusive, not less, the more we know about the event itself, and cannot be explained away by coupling extinction of intermediates with long stretches of geologic time, despite the contrary claims of some modern neo-Darwinists."

(Kevin J. Peterson, Michael R. Dietrich and Mark A. McPeek, "MicroRNAs and metazoan macroevolution: insights into canalization, complexity, and the Cambrian explosion," BioEssays, Vol. 31 (7):736 - 747 (2009).)

ScienceAvenger said...


isolated statements pulled out of the context of scientific papers and presented as evidence in favor of creationism is of little interest. It's been happening for years, and even has its own name (quotemining). What are the sentences preceding and following the quoted sentence? What is the full context of the statement? Without such, it is worthy of serious skepticism.

contrarian said...

They are not presented as evidence in favor of creationism. They are presented as evidence against CERTAIN theories in evolution. Please don't confuse the two.

ScienceAvenger said...

Au contraire, whenever evidence of their hypothesis is demanded, creationists (creation scientists, cdesign proponentsists, Intelligent Design proponents, or whatever name they are going by today) offer up those very same arguments time and time again. They think that if they can disprove evolution, they win by default, exposing at a most basic level how unscientific their approach is, and how scientifically ignorant (or dishonest) they are.

Asking me to pretend that this is merely sound science concerned with particular aspects of evolution is part of the scam, and I won't play.