The Discovery Institute and Public Relations

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Recently, we noted that the Discovery Institute was bemoaning their lack of funds to support their anti-evolution activities. That claim was factually wrong. In fact, it turns out that over the past year they had enough money to hire a very high-profile public relations firm, Creative Response Concepts (CRC), to spread their message. This is the same firm that represents AT&T, the canonical American mega-corporation, among a long list of clients.

Other notable CRC clients include the “Contract for America”, Parents Television Council, Regnery Publishing (the firm that published Phillip Johnson’s book, Darwin On Trial), and the high-profile client of the 2004 USA presidential campaign, “Swift Boat Vets for Truth”.

CRC has earned its pay from the DI CRSC this year. CRC arranged the showing of the film, The Privileged Planet, at the Smithsonian Institution, and provided the New York Times with an op-ed piece by Cardinal Schoenborn, an event that now seems more and more to be a Discovery Institute publicity stunt.

Scientists base their work upon the content of reality, the facts of evolutionary biology and the productive and useful research that results from evolutionary concepts. The Discovery Institute instead appears to think large-scale media operations and public relations stunts determine the content of science. That’s what happens when you don’t have facts on your side. Hopefully, no amount of public relations expertise can substitute for that.

(Thanks to Andrea Bottaro and other PT bar crew for useful suggestions.)

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Fresh off his electrifying performance on the Daily Show, the intrepid Dr. Dembski is still, it seems, attempting to do comedy. Witness the extraordinary chutzpah it took to write this post about the speaking schedule of NCSE staffers. He writes:... Read More

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Did anyone see this?

www.re-discovery.org/right.html

Regnery Publishing is also the publisher Robert Novak neglected to reveal his connections to while promoting the Swift Boat Vets’ book. His son is the Marketing Director for the company.

Wesley, John Lynch @ Stranger Fruit makes an arugment similar to yours–and one I think also correct. In terms of science.

But the DI campaign is having a real effect on science education, particularly on the K-12 level. Likewise, we can reasonably expect some eventual fallout at the policy level when it comes to funding science.

Also, those former K-12 students do often wind up in college – where their instructors waste valuable time “de-programming” the misinformation these students have acquired about basic science.

The pro-science (and hence, pro-evolution) people need to battle also in the arena of public relations.

Not because this in anyway does or could determine what comprises valid science – but it does make a difference as to what gets taught, and what gets funded.

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Among other things, folks, this news means that there is a very big, very well-connected, very slick PR firm out there that is looking to score points against evolutionists, and for ID/creationism, in the media. In particular, they may be looking for “gotchas” and for chances to spin minor issues into big media “scandals.”

They will probably be attempting to portray pro-science people to conform to their own biases: as dogmatic, close-minded, religion-haters who promote atheism in the guise of evolutionary biology. The defenses are obvious, but to repeat: keep your cool, stick to the facts, and continually exercise critical thinking, particularly about things that may be setups for new DI/CRC-inspired media stunts.

You don’t use expensive PR firms to discover facts, you use them to create facts. This is necessarily how religious doctrine is both formed and spread. The DI’s goal is hardly to present a scientific alternative, but rather to eliminate any such threat to Received Wisdom.

Scientists base their work upon the content of reality, the facts of evolutionary biology and the productive and useful research that results from evolutionary concepts. The Discovery Institute instead appears to think it is more productive to resort to large-scale media operations and public relations professionals.

Statements like this get annoying after a while. WHO CARES what scientists base their work on? Science is irrelevant. Large-scale media operations and PR professionals are indeed FAR more productive, depending on what you want to produce. And here’s a hint: the DI doesn’t want to produce any science. Ever. They want exactly the opposte: for science to stop producing. Their strategy is carefully (and intelligently) tailored to meet their goals, and it only looks dumb to keep whining that they aren’t reaching OUR goals, which are the only important goals.

Do you remember in Animal Farm, Napolean and his croonies never needed to actually prove or do anything, such as providing solid evidence that Snowball was behind all the evil on the farm, just as long as the sheep would bleet their phrases long enough for the other animals to forget their woes.

I feel like we are old Benjamin, watching the whole spectacle unfold.

-Zach

Statements like this get annoying after a while. …and it only looks dumb to keep whining that they aren’t reaching OUR goals, which are the only important goals.

I find this comment a little puzzling. The point is not, of course, to complain about DI not sharing our “goals” - it’s to point out the DI’s duplicity and hypocrisy. It may get a bit old, because the DI pretty consistently churns out duplicity and hypocrisy. But it needs to be exposed consistently, relentlessly, doggedly. Hard as it is to imagine, I suspect the liberties they take with the truth would be substantially more outrageous if they didn’t know they are being monitored very, very closely.

The defenses are obvious, but to repeat: keep your cool, stick to the facts, and continually exercise critical thinking

Aside from the fact that these “defenses”, while desirable in their own right, aren’t very effective against DI’s tactics, they are, um, defenses. We should be engaging in more offenses.

I find this comment a little puzzling. The point is not, of course, to complain about DI not sharing our “goals”

But that’s precisely what the complaint is, as Flint pointed out. Wesley wrote “The Discovery Institute instead appears to think it is more productive to resort to large-scale media operations and public relations professionals.” Well, yes, and the Discovery Institute is right; that is far more effective in achieving their goals than doing research would be; research would undermine their goals.

OK, I’ve tweaked the article.

Storm alert!

We interrupt your regularly scheduled griping with this message:

The PBS News Hour will analyze teaching ID tonight.

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A little perspective on their hiring of a PR firm. In another thread it was noted that

In 2003, the Discovery Institute reported $4,233,814.00 total revenue

The last research I did at NCSU was for Dr. Weninger in biophysics. Weninger had recently been a postdoc for Steve Chu at Stanford. He said that Chu had 10 postdocs, and that such a lab needed at least $1,000,000 a year to operate. So that works out to about $100,000 per postdoc, to do cutting edge research. If the DI really thought ID was an important new research direction in biology, they could have hired 42 biology (or other) Ph.D’s to do full time research. One could reasonably expect such guys to produce 80 or so ID papers a year. If it was as profitable as ordinary research. “Darwinian Pressure Groups” could not stop an institution which was producing 80 new valuable research papers per year, from becoming part of the mainstream scientific debate. Now, ID enthusiasts, why do you think they haven’t done this? They hired a PR firm, instead of these researchers. What’s that tell you?

West can wave his arms all he wants. ID will not survive Dover. And he knows it just as well as we do.

And he also knows why.

Keep in mind, this issue is about power, power over minds and not about “choice” or “reasonable alternatives.” What the ID folks want is an Orwellian choice, where one choice is sufficient. And in considering leadership and the politics of media exposition, remeber what Machiavelli said in “The Prince:”

“It’s good to appear to be pious, faithful, humane, honest, and religious…A prince must take great care never to let anything come from his mouth that is not full of the above-mentioned five qualities, and he must appear to all who see and hear him to be completely pious, completely faithful, completely honest, completely humane, and completely religious. And nothing is more important than to appear to have that last quality.”

Keep in mind, this issue is about power, power over minds and not about “choice” or “reasonable alternatives.” What the ID folks want is an Orwellian choice, where one choice is sufficient. And in considering leadership and the politics of media exposition, remeber what Machiavelli said in “The Prince:”

“It’s good to appear to be pious, faithful, humane, honest, and religious…A prince must take great care never to let anything come from his mouth that is not full of the above-mentioned five qualities, and he must appear to all who see and hear him to be completely pious, completely faithful, completely honest, completely humane, and completely religious. And nothing is more important than to appear to have that last quality.”

Flank: ID will not survive Dover.

The ID case will probably lose in Dover, but, alas, ID itself will barely break stride.

The christocrats have an elaborately constructed perspective that the US is in the merciless grip of a “judicial tyranny” (google that phrase) of gawdless liberals. This inoculates their followers, and many uninformed casual observers, from feeling any lessening of validity from defeats in court cases - regardless of how thoroughly they may have been thrashed in points of fact, logic, and law.

In the present political environment, quite possibly the only thing these guys could not “survive” would be a hot juicy sex scandal. (One involving a major celebrity: the “Jeff Gannon” case shows that scandalousness per se is no longer enough of a torpedo to penetrate the superchristian hull.)

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This page contains a single entry by Wesley R. Elsberry published on August 5, 2005 2:59 PM.

Paul Krugman on ID was the previous entry in this blog.

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