The Discovery Institute: a shambling, sneering concern troll (3)

This is the last in a three-part series (the first is here, the second here).
Bruce Chapman had this to say yesterday:

[T]he new standards are just fine, an improvement, in fact. Now teachers can tell the kids about the scientific evidence in a variety of fields that seems to contradict the Darwinian account as well as the supposed evidence in support.

Interesting; I never knew that teachers heretofore were barred from discussing actual evidence of any sort. And “seems,” Bruce? And “supposed”? The sun “seems” to revolve around the earth, but we don’t teach kids that it does, because we have “supposed evidence” to the contrary.
Chapman has patently defined “evidence” in two wildly different ways here. Rarely does one see such bold equivocation within a single sentence, even from these guys. How mindless, and sold on hokum in advance, do people have to be to lend a shred of credulity to such weaselly presentations? (Of course, maybe this is just one more way of “framing science,” which means it may even be ethical since it’s not coming from someone with any interest in valid science.)
The DI crew and scientists both know that there is no scientific evidence against evolution. If such evidence existed, it would stand front and center on the DI Web site, probably linked in huge text at the top of the home page, and would be right next to the evidence supporting Intelligent Design creationism if that existed. The absence of these things alone should be sufficient to convince anyone of the flakiness of the entire ID “movement,” but unfortunately religion scrambles minds in a uniquely ugly way.
By referring to something that isn’t there, but which millions of Lone Star Staters need to be there, the DI gang foments uncertainty without the need to put anything scientific in its place, since they knows well the default position of the faithful. And technically, if teachers in Texas could be counted on to do their jobs competently and with integrity, the idea of “examining all sides of scientific evidence” in the world of biology morphs trivially into “examine the evidence for evolution” and everyone is happy.
But of course the public doesn’t know these things; otherwise, circuses like the one that was just conducted would never happen in the first place. At present, the burden of colossal, willful, angry ignorance is so great in Texas that it very easily overwhelms facts when left unchecked and usually does so even when facts are placed front and center and with due equanimity. Creationist teachers abound, and the DI knows full well that an abdication of teaching evolution implies the support–to whatever extent the teacher can get away with it–of evolution. The DI pretends to shun religious explanations for the diversity of life on Earth, but this is an obvious lie; their aim is to position students’ minds so that creationism can be molded into ID creationism.
Of course, these people are screw-ups, and so, despite all of the practice they’ve had honing their dishonest talking points, they can’t help but screw up here and there, often without any cloaking at all. Witness Casey Luskin:

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) usually tries to puts forth a religion-friendly image, despite the fact that the NCSE’s executive director, Eugenie Scott, is a signer of the Third Humanist Manifesto. Something must have slipped through the cracks, because the NCSE’s talking points for Texas have encouraged activists to testify not just that science doesn’t study the supernatural, but to expressly testify that science denies the existence of the supernatural.

Now, if the DI is concerned only with science and, as West’s tone suggests, is downright irritated with the idea of infecting science education with religion, why would its chief mouthpiece care one way or the other what scientists claim about things which cannot be seen, measured, perceived, or in any way detected and assessed? Better check what the left hand’s doing, Casey.
Every once in a while, this happily sniveling weasel will try to argue against some finding or concept in evolution. The results are never good–most recently, Ken Miller absolutely destroyed another in a series of bad Luskin arguments about something that simply couldn’t have come about naturally–and I have to assume that whenever Luskin steps far, far out out his league and engages in this nonsense, he is fully away he is about to get his clock cleaned and can only hope that the mere fact of having spewed more lies and idiocy onto the Internet will suffice to get the job done. That job, of course, is to plant and nourish wrong ideas in the minds of those who visit EN&V already 90% sold on the idea that ID has scientific merit. People who know better and expressly prey on the ignorance of others are a special kind of sleazeball, and Luskin is such a fellow.
Going back to something I left out yesterday, the amendment requiring students to “critically analyze” evolution and its underpinnings is undisguisedly silly. It’s hard enough to teach college students in a survey biology course, much less high-schoolers, the basics about evolution without asking them to internalize the reasons scientists continually forced to defend it from assholes put forth as evidence for their lines or reasoning. Kids who learn about Einstein’s special theory of relativity, or at least the formula, are never asked to “critically analyze” Einstein’s frantic and torturous years of separating his ideas a piece at a time from the Newtonian mechanics that did not fit the behavior of relativistic particles; they just learn the accepted science. Dark-minded godders like Don McLeroy will do anything to ensure that some kind of pathogen remains active in Texas schools to ensure some disruption to the teaching of good science, some element that can be used to instill doubt about matters that have been settled for a long time when fake skylords are omitted from the tableau.
It bears mentioning that if EN&V permitted comments, someone would have posted these very accusations there may times over, or at a minimum would have asked, “So what is this evidence against evolution, and where can I find it?” The DI is not prepared to give an answer to this, so its contributors simply take the potential conversation off the table. Under any other conditions, the site may well have ceased to exist by now. I’m surprised it hasn’t junked the blog format altogether, given what a blog that overtly fails to allow comments reveals about the motives and integrity of the people who run it.
In the days to come, the DI will switch gears; it will note all of the “Darwinists” complaining about the unfortunate results in Texas and claim that this is evidence that “Darwinists” are simply out to squash academic freedom, with the implication being that we’re afraid of all of that contrary evidence. As usual, they will not supply any of this evidence. They will lie, they will make noise, they will be pathetic and whiny, and they will lie some more. It’s what they do and all they do, and it’s an odd and uncouth way to make a living.
In all seriousness, if you are reading this and are on the fence about ID, just ask yourself these two questions:
1. If there is evidence against evolution, why does the DI not present it?
2. If ID is science, why does EN&V never present it?

If you are not convinced by the obvious answers to these two questions alone that the entire undertaking is a simple-minded but industrious lie, there is probably no reclaiming you from the land of irrationality.

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  1. #1 by J-Dog on March 30, 2009 - 9:03 am

    Excelent series – I think you nailed the DI and their disengenuous habits and behavior. I particularly like your final two questions, and that you picked up on the “no comments allowed” on their “blog”. This might be THE avenue to pursue in trying to shine a light on the cockroaches of the DI.

  2. #2 by Sigmund on March 30, 2009 - 9:06 am

    The underlying problem is not with the standards themselves but the fact that a substantial proportion of biology teachers in the US are creationists themselves. Put it this way, is there any set of standards good enough to cause a real creationist to teach biology properly? Likewise is there any set of science standards bad enough to prevent a good biology instructor teaching the subject properly?

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