RSC Evolution News and Views blog, affectionately called by us at PT the “Discovery Institute Media Complaints Division”, does not demonstrate the same solicitude correcting their own and their associates’ “glaring errors of fact” that they show for real and imaginary mistakes from other media outlets. The time has come for them to put their red pen where their mouth is.
About a month ago I showed here on PT that Mike Behe’s endorsement blurb for the Discovery Institute-published anti-evolution diatribe “Why is a fly not a horse?” by Giuseppe Sermonti contains 2 major errors: that leaf insects appeared in the fossil record before leaves, and that insects appeared before plants. These are unarguably false statements, based on false information Behe obtained from Sermonti’s book (whether Sermonti simply concocted the stuff or got it from some other source I do not know). Despite the fact that we know EN&V/TDIMCD contributors read this blog, I have noticed that an ad for Sermonti’s book, displaying Behe’s endorsement of it, continues to appear on their main page.
That means that unaware readers of EN&V/TDIMCD for weeks have gathered patently erroneous information about biology from their site. In a few weeks, some high school student somewhere will raise their hand and tell their befuddled biology teacher that evolution is wrong because “insects appeared before plants”, causing much pedagogical consternation and wasting precious lesson time to fix the mistake. In Kansas, thanks to the political maneuvering of the Discovery Institute and other Creationits, a biology teacher too lazy to check the sources may actually teach that to his students as “evidence against darwinian evolutionary theory”. Ohio may even add this “controversy” to their evolution “lesson plans”, already riddled with gross biology errors gleaned from previous Intelligent Design literature (unless you people write enough letters to the Ohio media to reverse the course set by Ohio’s ID-friendly felon governor).
The appropriate thing to do for EN&V/TDIMCD is to withdraw Behe’s statement from their page, and issue in its place a correction to inform their readers of the factual evidence from the fossil record. Similarly, we may expect EN&V/TDIMCD contributor Rob Crowther to correct identical statements in his Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com reviews of Sermonti’s book. Ideally, EN&V/TDIMCD parent Institution, The Discovery Institute, should do the same with their press release about the book (it would help if the correction was issued by press release as well, since it was reported verbatim by many media outlets). They could also inform any ID-friendly sites that have repeated the erroneous claim. It goes without saying that future prints of the book, if any, will bear corrections both on the cover and in the text.
Now, EN&V/TDIMCD may complain that these are just minor details, that don’t affect the “big picture”. The truth is, however, that in science one must first get the facts right, and then some leeway in their interpretation can be afforded. Only politicians, cranks, and pseudo-scientists think that, in the name of their grand new ideas, facts can be freely made up.