Thursday, August 5, 2010

The two-faces of the DI

OK, the Discovery Institute has made one response to the situation in Livingston Parish. And those marketeers are using it, but not in their typical fashion. I guess they figured the school board is either going to back off or try and go forward losing another lawsuit. I think even the DI would have trouble raising funds after another crushing defeat!

How I see it is that Livingston has two choices to either back off or press on. If the school board backs off, the DI can claim that if they had only gone the 'smart' route and followed their tactics of marketing pseudo-science they might well be in the position to offer Creationism while safely hiding it under a lab coat. If they press ahead and suffer another crushing defeat, the DI can claim that it wasn't ID that got creamed, but Creationism -- and we all know that ID is not Creationism (wink, wink). So how is the DI playing it? Well here is one response.

Bruce Chapman,the director and founder of the Discovery Institute, has a lovely little post that reminds me of the Mission Impossible opening theme where "the Secretary will disavow all knowledge". In my opinion this is the cowardly way out. The Discovery Institute SET-UP this scenario when they, and the Louisiana Family Forum included all the right words to open the door for a non-scientific critiques of science. They are the ones who opened the door for nearly any material can be used in the science classroom. They were the ones who removed any possible teeth from the implementation procedures to prevent exactly this sort of thing from happening. So when it finally does come to pass -- what does the Discovery Institute do? They cut their losses and run! See that yellow streak, that's Bruce running in the opposite direction!

He even mentioned Dover in his comments. Did he forget who was advising the former members of the Dover School Board? They cut and ran there as well. As soon it looked like a legal battle was coming and one they were not going to win -- they ran. They also ran from the minister's wife/part-time soccer coach in Tejon Ca who tried to teach a philosophy class about 'design' that was nothing more than a not-very-cleverly disguised ID class. They are the ones who claimed, after the fact, that they suggested she settle.

So here seems to be the modus operandi. They will do anything, say anything, promise anything to string some poor school district, teacher, or politician along. Then when the going gets rough and bad publicity or a legal defeat might be in their future, they firmly place their tails between their legs and run back to Seattle! Well I guess that is to be expected since , in my opinion, it's not like they have principles to support.

Let this be a warning to any other school district thinking of Intelligent Design, or it's older brother Creationism. Well before things look bleak, hours before the possibility of the darkest darkness before the dawn, you will see the Discovery Institute give up and head for home and start spinning things as if they were not responsible. The only difference in Livingston is that they are starting the spinning before the school board has taken any actual action! There you have it, the two faces of the Discovery Institute. The one face loaded with marketing muscle that makes all kinds of unsupported pronouncements about the immediate demise of evolutionary theory -- and the other face . . . or rather the back of their heads . . . as they cut and run leaving you in the lurch.

One last thing, Chapman called his post "A Classic Evolution Policy Blunder", but is this really about Evolution or is it about a school system making an anti-evolutionary policy decision that will make the DI look like idiots? Someone needs to help him write titles, his crayons must be getting dull.

OK, this really is the last item for this post. I start this post yesterday and this morning found that Lauri Lebo beat me to it. Please read her post "Creationism: Don't use the "C-Word". Great article! Thanks Lauri! I almost didn't post mine, but any chance to make fun of those ID'iots in Seattle is well worth it.


  1. in re: "warning" to any school districts considering Creationist measures ...

    IMO these districts pay scant attention to the DI. Very likely, any mention of the DI in the local press just whizzes by these districts' thinking. In the case of Louisiana, all that matters is that some "law protecting Creationism" was enacted; its connection to the DI is scarcely acknowledged.

    Ideally, rural school districts should be aware of the history of attempts to teach Creationism, and how legal challenges have clearly come down against such teaching. Realizing this ideal would be time-consuming and expensive, and very likely many rural districts will just ignore it anyway. After all, many public schools in the United States are teaching Creationism NOW in their high school science classes.

    The end result is that colleges and universities have to "dumb down" their introductory biology courses, to make up for the misinformation acquired by students taught in such high school classes. Unfortunately, colleges and universities can't do much about it. Thus higher education costs more.

    Somebody needs to study the "hidden cost" of Creationism in this country. When Creationism is shown to result in increased costs, such as higher taxes for local school districts, support for Creationism drops considerably. The message is that, among conservatives, teaching Creationism is encouraged, as long as we don't have to pay more for it. IMO this approach is not emphasized enough.

  2. Something along those lines was done as part of the Mt. Vernon Ohio case of John Freshwater. One of the items uncovered by investigators is how often Freshwater's students had to be re-taught things in later grades that he was supposed to have covered. Not sure if they did a cost analysis, but they certainly brought the point up.