Friday, April 17, 2009

Summer camp at the Discovery institute

The Discovery institute is offering seminars on Intelligent Design, yes, believe it or not. "Deadline Nears for Summer Seminars on Intelligent Design"

There are a few things I do find a bit strange, here, let me point them out. The first one isn't the most glaring, but it was the first one to catch my eye:

"The program is an incredible opportunity for students to spend 9 days learning about intelligent design from top ID thinkers such as Stephen Meyer, Jonathan Wells, Richard Sternberg, Jay Richards, Doug Axe, John West, and many others"
Nine days? They are going to subject college students to 9 days of Intelligent Deign? What in the world are they going to talk about for 9 days? There isn't enough material to spend 9 hours on it! What I think is going to happen is they have one day planned they are just going to put up a different talking head and repeat it 8 other times.

I do have to have issue with two other phrases that in my opinion tell me how little the DI understands the definitions of the words "incredible opportunity" and "ID thinkers". I do understand this is more a marketing announcement than anything serious, so it deserves all the attention of a used car ad . . . but 'incredible'? They have certainly misused a perfectly good word here. As for the ID 'thinkers' part, I was glad to see folks like Casey Luskin being relegated to the 'and many others' list. But I do think they are stretching the use of the word 'thinker' here a great deal. I fully expect it will be nothing but more repetition of the normal ID apologetics material, especially with Richard Sternberg in attendance.

The next thing that caught my eye was
"deadline has been extended to April 30"
Now why does an 'event', especially the third annual time this particular side-show has apparently gone on, have to extend the deadline for registration? I'll give you a hint, there are two common reasons for extending a deadline. the first is the event was short notice and the second is because no one is breaking down the doors to get in. Since this is the third annual such event, I cannot believe it's a scheduling issue. Which leaves . . . yup, low attendance looks bad, so extending the deadline is the only answer and hope more victims, I mean participants, sign up.

Now here is another thing the ID is really good at, rather than make any effort to show people how incredible ID is, they only want people who already support ID. Take a look at the attendee criteria:
1. A copy of your resume;
2. A letter of recommendation from an ID-friendly source;
3. A copy of your academic transcript;
4. A short (one page) statement of your interest in ID within your field of study.
The even numbers ones are the telling point. You have to be recommended from an ID-friendly source? I guess that might also explain the lack of participation. Plus you already have to be able to give them cannon fodder on how ID can be used in your area of study? No wonder they have to extend the deadline, this part of the application would be pretty blank since ID doesn't pertain to any actual scientific disciplines. I wonder if a marketing student could attend?

The last line that really did tickle my funny bone was
"carefully screens applicants to ensure both high quality and high confidentiality for those who participate."
First of all this is also a marketing gimmick to make people think attending this thing will make them somehow smarter and more in the know than other folks. But I believe, and this is my very incredulous nature about anything the DI does coming out, that the reason they want people who can keep a secret is because they know the impact of attending such an event would have on a CV or resume.

OK, so let's sum this up. If you already know about and understand ID, and have a recommendation from an ID-friendly source, you can spend 9 glorious days at the feet of such 'notables' as John West and Stephen Meyer learning absolutely nothing at all. Plus you don't get to brag to other people that you met the DI's 'high' standards because of the confidentiality clause.

Oh yea, and I bet you get to pay for the privilege. Doesn't this sound like a fun summer camp?


  1. Actually, the online application form says
    "One letter of recommendation from an ID-friendly academic reference (with a phone number at which this person can be contacted) or a statement of preference for a phone interview with Dr. Bruce Gordon, CSC Research Director."
    (emphasis mine)

    I guess all applicants have to go through the the interview with Bruce Gordon.

  2. I hadn't followed the link to the actual form. I was still laughing at the whole concept.

    New question, this is supposedly the third annual . . . anyone ever hear of the other two? I checked back in my own material and I can't find a reference to either of the previous ones?

  3. Why is Censorship of Scrutiny so Much a Part of Intelligent Design?

    While Michael Egnor is accusing the scientific community of censorship, the Institut Discotheque is advertising a summer seminar on Intelligent Design, and there’s something very interesting about the advertisement. Applicants for the seminar are required to provide various information about their grades and their interests, as well as “a letter of recommendation from a professor who knows your work and is friendly toward ID, or a phone interview with Dr. Bruce Gordon, CSC Research Director.” Now that’s interesting–a letter from someone who is “friendly toward ID”? What is this if not a litmus test–a gatekeeper device to prevent critics or doubters from attending their seminar?

  4. Hmm, no Dembski listed. I wonder what he'll be up to. Maybe he'll finally be doing something approximating research? I've lost track of how many times he's said he's going to focus on ID research going forward.

  5. I know he said it just before he left one job . . . or was fired . . . depending on your point of view . . . from Baylor. Then from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as well. Small wonder he chickened out of testifying at Dover, especially after an expert report stated

    " . . . that despite common claims in the popular and religious press, Dembski is not a scientist by any reasonable standard, has not published any experimental or empirical tests of his claims, submitted his claims to the scrutiny of his peers or published in a scientific journal."


    ". . .describes Dembski's published mathematical output as "extremely small" for a research mathematician, and remarks that "it is very unlikely that his meager output would merit tenure at any major university"