Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Discovery Institute up to their usual tricks.

I am shocked that the Discovery Institute has any knees left, mainly because of the number and intensity of their 'knee-jerk' reactions to anything that doesn't completely and totally agree with them. So for your entertainment pleasure, the latest set of prevarications from those less-than-stalwart fellows at the DI. A pretty typical press release "San Antonio Express Article Misstates Facts on Texas Board of Education and Kansas" from their website targets an article from the San Antonio News "Theory of Evolution Faces New Debate".

In reality I disagreed with the San Antonio article on two points. First of all the use of the word 'New' in the title. This is not a new debate, this is the same debate we have been having ever since fundamentalist Creationists realized their ideas were based on their own internalized belief system and to the rest of the world they were just flakes. My other minor point of contention is that I think they gave Casey Luskin way to much room in the article. Oh yea, one single word from Casey is way to much, but that's neither here nor there. The fun part is watching the DI squirm and change things to their liking.

In their own article they state:

"But the article also states that the Texas Board of Education "voted with the science experts in January to remove the 'strengths and weaknesses' standard" from Texas science standards. The Board did indeed vote to do this (to its shame). But in repealing the strengths and weaknesses language, Board members did not vote "with the science experts." The Board appointed six science experts to review the draft standards. Three of the experts opposed the “strengths and weaknesses” provision, but three of the experts supported the “strengths and weaknesses” language! So it would be much more accurate to say that the Board in January sided with some of their experts while ignoring others."
I believe the SA article is completely correct, the Board voted with the science expert in removing the strengths and weaknesses argument from the science standards. I think it is rather disingenuous of the DI to claim that West and Meyer, of the DI, should be considered 'science experts'. So the Board did vote with science experts and voted against the three Creationists who got on the board through politics rather than scholarship.

Of course the lies and misdirection continues:

The article also erroneously claims that in 2005 the Kansas Board of Education “approved new science standards allowing the teaching of intelligent design, which posits that a supernatural creator is required to explain life's complexity.”

Actually, the Kansas science standards adopted in 2005 did not include intelligent design. Here is a direct quote from the introduction to those science standards (since repealed): “We also emphasize that the Science Curriculum Standards do not include Intelligent Design, the scientific disagreement with the claim of many evolutionary biologists that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion."

This is the standard whine that just because the standards didn't mention ID, that the Kansas standard would prevent ID from being taught. Again the SA article is honest, that the Kansas standards (since repealed in Kansas) would have allowed the teaching of Intelligent Design and even multiple other variations on Creationism, even though the language didn't specify ID as a curriculum topic. The DI's position is a lie, a canard, pure BS.

You might look to the East slightly and see what is happening in Louisiana. Even though the standard doesn't mention ID as a curriculum topic, the enforcement agency removed all mention of 'not teaching religious-based alternatives' from the rules. In other words a teacher in Louisiana will be able to toes out the science text and bring in the Bible directly -- and there is little anyone will be able to say, short of a Dover-style lawsuit. Sure the DI is sort of right, the Kansas standards didn't advocate ID directly, but the intent was what the SA article was reporting -- and they got the intent right.

The article closed with what I have come to expect from the DI, another restatement of what ID is supposed to be:
"Of course, the article’s definition of intelligent design (ID) is equally fallacious. Intelligent design does not posit "that a supernatural creator is required to explain life's complexity." ID claims that we can use empirical evidence and logic to detect whether some features of life and the universe are better explained as the product of an intelligent cause rather than an undirected cause of chance and necessity."

How many ways have they 'officially' refused to identify who they believe to be the Designer? It's hilarious, they will wink and give a nod to the Christian God, but formally they won't say it because they think no one will take them seriously. I got news from them, as a scientific organization, no one takes them seriously. It's only their politicking and marketing that people worry about -- just watch what has been happening in Texas and their typical reactions to understand that.

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