In its latest come-on for money, the Discovery Institute makes a claim:
Our budget is a fraction of what pro-evolution groups have to spend, and the mainstream media are largely hostile and biased on this issue.
So I thought that I would have a look at the Form 990s for 2003 of the DI and the pro-science 501(3)(c) that engages the DI, the National Center for Science Education.
In 2003, the Discovery Institute reported $4,233,814.00 total revenue, $3,544,031.00 in end-of-year assets, and $2,499,077.00 total expenses. Of those expenses, $338,977.00 went to officers and directors, $627,285.00 went to other salaries and wages, and $122,809.00 went to travel. (In 2002, I noted that the DI could cut its travel budget in half and fund a research study. I’ll note that $60K is the level of funding for some NSF postdoctoral research fellowships.)
For comparison, let’s look at the figures in 2003 for the NCSE.
In 2003, the NCSE reported $659,270.00 total revenue, $540,943.00 in end-of-year assets, and $658,841.00 total expenses. Of those expenses, $122,040.00 went to officers and directors, $230,380.00 went to other salaries and wages, and $16,803.00 went to travel.
The DI is composed of more than just the C
RSC , though, I’m sure someone will point out. But the claim that the C RSC is financially at a disadvantage seems bogus to me. First, to make any sense of the claim made at all, one would have to go beyond NCSE’s budget and include groups whose stated purposes are far broader than defending the teaching of evolutionary biology in science classrooms. In that case, the same argument that would be deployed to say that a fraction of the DI’s reported budget is involved in the EvC issue would also apply to any group outside of NCSE that opposes them as well. It’s tough to figure out what might be meant by the vague basket of “pro-evolution groups”, but mostly groups that have something to do with evolutionary biology simply aren’t putting much, if any, effort into combatting antievolutionist outfits like the DI C RSC. That job primarily rests with NCSE, whose budget is, as the official tax documents relate, much less than that of the DI C RSC, contrary to the original claim. Second, the DI C RSC is but one of many antievolution organizations whose malign purposes are backed by big cash flows. Look at Answers in Genesis, who reported total revenues of $9,016,228.00 in 2003. There are many antievolution groups raking it in, but only one NCSE.