10 Times the Daily Recommended Dose of Irony

The Discovery Institute Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture’s Media Complaints Division has a short whine by Robert Crowther about a column in Scientific American by Steve Mirsky. Mirsky made fun of disclaimers for textbooks, specifically mentioning the Selman v. Cobb County case decision.

There’s a general cluelessness about Crowther’s discussion of publications like Scientific American and their printing schedules. But an even more egregious bit from Crowther is a complaint about a lack of originality in Mirsky’s piece.

Robert Crowther wrote:

Mirsky though was not put off by waiting nearly two months since the decision was handed down by a federal judge to see his original idea finally published.

(Emphasis in original.)

Crowther had noted Colin Purrington’s sticker satire that had appeared in the New York Times as an op-ed piece. Mirsky’s column has a similar flavor, but Mirsky did not simply quote chunks of Purrington’s piece.

One has to wonder why Mirsky might be “put off” by the completely normal delay that occurs between the completion of the content of an issue of a magezine like Scientific American and its appearance on a newsstand. If one is writing for Scientific American and other magazines that aren’t specializing in news reportage, one simply expects that there will be a characteristic delay of several weeks between the time that the content is delivered to the printer and when the resulting printed magazines come back for distribution. There is an economic issue behind this, as printers tend to charge more for short turn-around on orders. DI representatives are usually more sensitive to the economic bottom line of businesses.

And Mirsky does make a note of the timing of this news item.

Steve Mirsky wrote:

One little blaze can be found in Cobb County, Ga. As this issue of Scientific American went to press, a federal judge in Atlanta was in the process of deciding whether biology textbooks in the county could continue to sport a warning sticker that read: “This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.”

Mirsky indicates that the news that he is commenting on occured just in time to meet the issue deadline. The two month lag is not something that Mirsky has any control over, so it seems petty and churlish of Crowther to make an issue out of it.

Now, for the overdose of irony that Crowther served up. Crowther complains loudly here about Mirsky writing a column whose topic was the same as that of an earlier piece by Colin Purrington. Yet Crowther and the ID advocates of the DI have been strangely quiet concerning the documented copying of substantial portions of earlier articles in a series of articles published by Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture. This silence is all the more curious since several instances of what is substantially the same article are commonly claimed by the DI CRSC to increment a count of “peer-reviewed” articles about “intelligent design”. That’s certainly funny, but not in a “ha-ha” sense.