Discovery Institute Tells PA Legislature to Stop

| 62 Comments

John G. West and Seth Cooper of the Discovery Institute wrote a letter to Pennsylvania Representative Jess M. Stairs urging Stairs and the Pennsylvania legislature not to pass HB1007 which would mandate the teaching of “intelligent design” in Pennsylvania K-12 science classes.

While West and Cooper go on at length in their letter, the import is clear: don’t call their tired old antievolution rhetoric “intelligent design”; just put the same content in the classrooms and call it “teaching the controversy”, “scientific criticisms”, or “evidence against evolution” instead. There’s nothing like a marketing effort that goes to the lengths of lobbying the DI does in order to put on a name change for their product while affixing what amounts to a brightly colored sticker saying, “Old! Unimproved!” in the upper left corner of the box.

(Hat tip to Thomas D. Gillespie. Please do keep sending me news items that you see relating to evolutionary biology and antievolution efforts.)

62 Comments

Speaking of name changes, that apparently is about the limit of productivity of ID advocates. Rather than develop some science, these folks think that all that matters is finding the right label to slap on the same icky product that has been sitting neglected on the shelves.

Speaking of name changes, that apparently is about the limit of productivity of ID advocates. Rather than develop some science, these folks think that all that matters is finding the right label to slap on the same icky product that has been sitting neglected on the shelves.

Apparently in this case they’ve decided their best strategy is no label.

Too bad trademarks aren’t applicable here.

In the commercial marketplace, if you purposely try to make your labels look really similar to the leading brand, in hopes that confused consumers will buy your brand instead, I believe you can be sued for trademark infringement.

Dembski’s latest “re-branding” is clearly an attempt to do exactly that.

From the DI’s Letter:

Design theory is a scientific inference based on scientific evidence, not religious texts.

Really? From Dembski:

Indeed, intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory

How on earth are these charlatans getting away with this crap?

LOVE IT

Please please please pass HB1007. And while you’re at it, rename it Divine Design.

I love the IDers. It’s the Keystone Kops.

William Dembski is the Dogberry of Intelligent Design.

Exactly! “Old and unimproved.” They have come full circle. It doesn’t even make an attempt to distinguish itself from good ol’ fashion creationism with a bogus argument about being a scientific theory. ***IT IS CREATIONISM*** Can we please agree to just call it that and ignore any directives from the DI to call what they want us to call it?

It’s as though the whole ID thing was a decade long process meant to launder creationism of it’s religion and leave a patina of “science” on it, like laundering money by sending it overseas. Let’s not let them get away with it. Whenever they say “teach the controversy” make an effort to remember to say “creationism”. When they angrily claim it isn’t, tell them that the term has been in use for two decades, adequately describes what they’re doing, and is understood by the majority of the public. No need to invent another new term. Every claim to science has already been made by Duane Gish in the 80’s. Nothing different.

Yes, I think divine design is the most accurate of the descriptive labels we’ve seen.

Intelligent Design doesn’t work because despite refusing to specify the designer, IDers exclude from consideration the properties of the only kind of intelligence in the universe we KNOW exists: human intelligence…that is, they refuse to say things like, “We know intelligence works like so in humans at least, so we predict properties X and Y but not W and Z if this system is intelligently designed.”

Creationism doesn’t quite work either because the term contains scriptural baggage many IDers have reportedly rejected: Young earth, Flood Geology.

Divine Design captures the idea (utterly clear from the IDers’ writings) of a supernatural cause without biblical details we know are false.

I think we should all start calling it divine design!

Re: Leonard’s PhD defense at OSU

We need their proposed legislation to “protect academic freedom” referred to as attached to the letter, but not printed by the DI. Predictably, they are moving to prohibit the kind of examination Leonard’s thesis is getting.

MIKE: It doesn’t even make an attempt to distinguish itself from good ol’ fashion creationism with a bogus argument about being a scientific theory. ***IT IS CREATIONISM***

While I agree the anti-evolution arguments of ID movement are patently recycled from standard biblical creationism, I am willing to grant that the ID movement has gone beyond creationism, if only slightly, in that they don’t insist on evidence for specific biblical details. However, I have no doubt whatsoever that the IDers’ “designer” and the creationists’ “creator” are identical…the latter have just been more forthcoming about it.

As a member of the Pennsylvania Council of Professional Geologists, I have spent the last 5 months campaigning to get the organization to issue a position statement I wrote against the teaching of creationism of any flavour. We are about to publish in time for the newspapers right here in our home county of York (host of the infamous town of Dover, PA). The statement is also being sent to the PA House Education Committee and the General Assembly, and we are trying to convert it to an amicus brief for the pending trial in September re: the Dover School District policy. It wasn’t an easy row to hoe, as there are, surprisingly, many ultra-religioius geologists here in Pennsylvania - and they bucked at what I was proposing.

I will post a link to the statement as soon as it is uploaded to the web page (should be in a day or two)

“Creationism doesn’t quite work either because the term contains scriptural baggage many IDers have reportedly rejected: Young earth, Flood Geology.”

Tough. Screw ‘em. Using a new term doesn’t help communication with the general public.

A portion of a phone interview withe West by local NPR affiliates was played yesterday. Essentially the DI is against ‘mandating’ ID in the curriculum but in favor of allowing faculty to discuss ID as part of the growing controversy on the theory of evolution. One could get more Clintonesque (depends on what your meaning of is is), but it would be hard

What we’re seeing here is the bad fruit resulting from DI’s strategy to appeal to the public instead of going the slower and sober peer reviewed route (not that it has much of a chance there either). Behe, Dembski, et al went to great lengths to strip away overt references to religion, despite evidence that a religious purpose was core to Intelligent Design (see Wedge document; also, follow the funding money). But those hypocrisies didn’t stop DI fellows from repeatedly claiming that religion had nothing to do with ID. And they might have even gotten away with it if they had an audience that was better trained. Their decision (perhaps inevitable) that public support could somehow lead to scientific credibility was fatal. Science is neither a democracy nor a lynch mob. Because for all their babying and instructing about what ID ‘is’, once it got in the hands of the plebeians, ID inevitably became about what the public wanted it to be - a religious rebuke of Darwin. Wide-eyed school boards around the country read the articles the DI managed to push and bought the package, but didn’t read the disclaimer: don’t say the R word! The Thomas More Center never really understood this, which is why there was a falling out in Dover. This seems to indicate more fallout. It’s part and parcel of the great conundrum of the intellectual archconservative – how do you hide the fact that the most fervent supporters of your theories are viciously and proudly anti-intellectual?

Comment #36686 Posted by steve on June 29, 2005 10:28 AM

William Dembski is the Dogberry of Intelligent Design.

steve, that’s an insult to dogs everywhere. Why not…

William Dembski is the dingleberry of Intelligent Design.

The Thomas More people do seem to be spectacularly stupid. You’d think that a bunch of lawyers would know about things like the Lemon test and, you know, the first amendment. But they insist on proudly proclaiming how they want to establish their religion. They’re not likely to win many cases that way.

“The Thomas More people do seem to be spectacularly stupid. You’d think that a bunch of lawyers would know about things like the Lemon test and, you know, the first amendment. But they insist on proudly proclaiming how they want to establish their religion. They’re not likely to win many cases that way.”

Agreed. If I were trying to win a case for teaching ID as science, I would stay a million miles away from anyone associated with the ID movement, because they are all fatally tainted and don’t do science anyway. I would use real science done by real scientists, like this: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2122619.stm

to show that it is perfectly scientific to hypothesis that imperfect replicators could be designed by natural intelligent agents using technology very much like what we have today. I’d emphasize that ID doesn’t dispute common descent, and that research on assembling things like viruses is scientific support for a design origin of life on earth just like research on ways organic molecules can self organize support abiogenesis. I wouldn’t say a word about atheism or naturalistic bias in science; I would embrace methodological naturalism as the only firm ground on which science can function. I think this could pass constitutional muster, but who would be happy about teaching schoolkids that they might have evolved from bacteria designed by ET?

scott pilutik Wrote:

Because for all their babying and instructing about what ID ‘is’, once it got in the hands of the plebeians, ID inevitably became about what the public wanted it to be - a religious rebuke of Darwin. Wide-eyed school boards around the country read the articles the DI managed to push and bought the package, but didn’t read the disclaimer: don’t say the R word! The Thomas More Center never really understood this, which is why there was a falling out in Dover. This seems to indicate more fallout. It’s part and parcel of the great conundrum of the intellectual archconservative — how do you hide the fact that the most fervent supporters of your theories are viciously and proudly anti-intellectual?

Exactly! I’ve felt much the same way. Actually though, I’d say that when the foot soldiers bought the DI rhetoric, they bought into the “scientifical authenticity” as well. The TMLC is probably pushing their case not because of the religious goal (well, not solely because of it), but because they genuinely believe that intelligent design is scientific, and can pass the Lemon test with flying colors.

It’s getting entirely out of the DI’s hands now, and they have only themselves to blame. What did they expect? They kept insisting that ID is a scientific concept, but keeping the real cards close to their chest – and everything will be okay as long as they’re fully in control of the action, and they can strike that delicate balancing act of just barely avoiding the “G” word. But they can’t control the zealots, nor keep them from charging through the DI’s precarious house of cards, wearing little Napoleon hats and riding hobby horses. “COME ON GUYS, YOU SAID THIS WAS SCIENCE RIGHT? WE CAN DO IT! CHAAAAAAARGE!”

The local Philadelphia CLassical Music NPR station (WRTI) has been running a daily newsmagazine analysis of the ID controversy all week http://www.wrti.org/programming/sch[…]mpleview.htm - something new each day. Unfortunately, each day’s analysis has begun with a quote from Behe (Lehigh Univ. is just up the turnpike from Philly). I wouldn’t call the coverage UNbalanced, but first they interview Behe (well-rehearsed in the subject) and then provide a bland couterpoint from a Temple Univ biology professor (it it Temple U. public radio) who is NOT well-versed and rehearsed in the D.I. tactics.

I’m wating for the end of ht eweek to see how it all goes before responding.

Comment #36699 Posted by Ginger Yellow on June 29, 2005 12:47 PM

They’re not likely to win many cases that way.

But then they don’t need to, because even a loss is a win as far as they are concerned. Then they get to play martyr to the masses as the persecuted defenders of the faith. It’s enough to turn one’s stomach. Sincerely, Paul

So, anyone surprised that they didn’t post the list of all those references to mainstream journal articles that support ID? They just sent the hard copy to the PA legislature, even though the letter goes on and on about how all this “mainstream” research supports their position.

What does their list contain, other than the retracted article by Myer and Behe’s sub-par article in Protein Science? Is it just a rehash of the famous Ohio bibliography that NCSE debunked?

Just for starters, West and Cooper need the test case to be in a district where the school board has completely hidden the religious motivation, from the very beginning.

Ain’t gonna happen.

(Does little “ID is Doomed” happydance)

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John West wrote:

At the same time, intelligent design is a relatively new theory

It is? Has something new been added since Paley (1802)?

Surely we’re not counting the thoroughly debunked musings of Dembski and Behe.

Dembski made a telling comment in the comments section:

I’m convinced ID will succeed, and I believe the monicker ID will stick. The question is what to do in the short-term if the courts beat it down in the public schools. I hate seeing our youth dying on the vine, being indoctrinated into a materialistic worldview in the name of science.

No aliens need apply. No elohim either.

Nevertheless, he’s still confident that this renaming ploy is just a temporary tactical retreat:

IE (intelligent evolution) may prove to be a useful stop-gap during the time that ID, let us hope not, gets trashed by the courts but, as now is looking ever more promising, succeeds scientifically.

So many words, so little theory.

In the sense Dembski uses, science really *does* require a “materialistic worldview.” In the Islamic world, science receives almost no funding nor public respect. It doesn’t attract the most intelligent and dedicated people. And this is entirely a cultural phenomenon: for science to work at all, evidence must trump preference. No scientist can succeed unless he places greater credibility in how things DO work, rather than in how he believes they ought to work. And this means science can never be a tool in the service of Faith or Belief. Maybe the appearance of science, the terminology and even limited lip service, but the core of science, what makes it effective, is antithetical to the religious approach.

The few Islamic scientists are well aware that this aversion to real knowledge explains almost entirely why they are backwards and why they stay backwards even as genuine science is embraced throughout the rest of the world. They marvel at the contrast with Asian societies, where matters of what we’d call religious faith, while deeply influential in Asian cultures, perceive no threat from genuine understandings.

Dembski’s dream that real science can be harnessed to serve his religious fixations is impossible at the deepest levels, levels his believe system clearly prohibit him from understanding. He doesn’t know what science IS, and I suspect he can’t. The claim that true science must revolve around Jesus Christ illustrates the scope of that incomprehension better than anything I could possibly say.

So, now we have ID and IE. What next? IF? Intelligent Flim-flam?

Agape Press interviewed one of the legislators sponsoring the ID Bill at the following URL : http://headlines.agapepress.org/arc[…]/292005c.asp

(Sorry, I can’t figure out how the kwickcode works.)

Ginger Yellow: But they insist on proudly proclaiming how they want to establish their religion. They’re not likely to win many cases that way.

But they will win more funding from their fanatical founder (see City of God: Tom Monaghan’s coming Catholic utopia, or just google “Monaghan, Thomas More Law Center”) - and that’s a viable survival strategy.

Yeah .…The marketing thing its funny how .….ID is the same as ID Think about it for a while. Sir_Toejam What was that pain killing stuff the old boy was taking in Dover? Sounds like – the so called “trust hormone”

http://www.world-science.net/othern[…]trustfrm.htm

oxycontin?

ID is the same as ID.

funny nothing. one could easily argue that the whole ID movement is exactly what you mentioned, a grand excercize in defense of the Id, at the expense of Ego and even Superego.

characterized by classic Denial and Projection.

The id is an important part of our personality because as newborns, it allows us to get our basic needs met. Freud believed that the id is based on our pleasure principle. In other words, the id wants whatever feels good at the time, with no consideration for the reality of the situation. …

The id doesn’t care about reality, about the needs of anyone else, only its own satisfaction. If you think about it, babies are not real considerate of their parents’ wishes. They have no care for time, whether their parents are sleeping, relaxing, eating dinner, or bathing. When the id wants something, nothing else is important.

text from a psych 101 class.

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This page contains a single entry by Wesley R. Elsberry published on June 29, 2005 9:35 AM.

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