Sunday, January 24, 2016

Why would the Discovery Institute call it 'Censorship'

A few hours ago I posted "Is anyone actually censoring the Discovery Institute?", a post about how no one is actually censoring the Discovery Institute (DI), just presenting an opposing view.  One of my acquaintances read it and dropped me a line that asked "If they aren't being censored, why do they call it censorship?"  Rather than answer it in an email, I am going to address it in a post.  I do highly encourage people to leave comments instead of emails.  That way we can have an exchange in the open.  But that being said, why in the world would an organization like the Discovery Institute call opposition censorship?

Simple answer, it's all about perception.  You see if the DI complained about someone, pretty much anyone, airing an opposition viewpoint, people who call their complaining -- whining.  I mean how can you argue about an opposing view with any teeth in it and not come off as nothing but a whiner?  But . . . if you can build a perception that the person, or group, expressing an opposing view is doing something else, then you have a chance of gaining some level of public support.  So by categorizing people like Jerry Coyne and Neil deGrasse Tyson as censors, they are trying to create an automatic negative perception.  After all everyone knows censorship is usually considered a bad thing, right?

Actually this is a pretty common tactic.  I mean what negative activity of the last century and a half has the DI been trying to associate with Darwin and the Theory of Evolution?  How about all of them!  The obvious one is the association their pet pseudo-historians are always trying to sell is blaming the Nazi's, Word War II, and the Holocaust on Darwin and the Theory of Evolution.  After all, everyone knows the Nazis were bad, so if anyone buys into their bogus connection, it casts Darwin in a negative light.  Of course, it's all marketing.

But it's not just big things, last year in the post that awarded Tyson their 'Censor of the Year' award, they actually tried to blame a shooting in NC on the fact the shooter was an apparent atheist, actually calling him a militant atheist and reminded that he

" . . . is accused of murdering three Muslim students. Since the triple slaying is potentially explosive in an international context, social and other media are abuzz with analysis of the man's views on religion."
So therefore Atheism = violence, so being a theist is a good thing, right?   But . . . if you read the article giving that dubious honor to Tyson, why would an atheist who committed murder be a candidate for censor of the year?  They bring it up, but never support their supposed thinking.  What it looked like they were trying to do is make a connection between Tyson and his less-than-flattering comments during Cosmos about religion and violence done by an apparent atheist.  Did they address Tyson's comments about some of the negative impact religion and religious organizations have had on science?  No, it's easier to make a connection between Tyson and a murderer, you get more mileage out of that.  Even if they deny that was their intention, writing the post the way they did makes the connection for some people.

The DI are masters at Public Relations and Marketing.  Anyone who says something negative about the DI or Intelligent Design is automatically a target.  Do you remember little gem from 2006: "Canadian Quilters Attack Intelligent Design" from Evolution 'News' and Views and "“ID is a Myth” Quilt Wins National Contest" from Uncommon Descent.  Yes, a quilter . . . a single quilter did a quilt that made fun of Intelligent Design . . . and she is suddenly part of a cabal of Canadian Quilters who are attacking ID.  See my point?  They can't even allow someone to make a little fun of their pet version of Creationism without trying to gain some PR mileage out of it.  A humorous quilt is suddenly an attack!

That's why the DI calls Jerry Coyne and Neil deGrasse Tyson their 'censors of the year'.  It's because it offers them a PR opportunity.  Jerry and Neil did nothing that can be remotely called censorship . . . . unless you change the definition of censorship to the airing of an opposing view.  That's also why they complain about the lack of adoption of ID as an opposing view to evolution as a matter of free speech and academic freedom.  It has nothing to do with the lack of science supporting ID, no that wouldn't be something they can whine about.  But if they accuse people of denying free speech and schools going against academic freedom, they can market more and more.  The minor detail that no one is abrogating their right to free speech and that pseudo-science isn't covered under academic freedom having absolutely nothing to do with it makes no difference to them, it's all marketing.  There are plenty of examples:
  • They want ID to be treated as a theory, so instead of doing any actual science, they simply market it as fait accompli and dare anyone to claim it's not a theory.  Of course they forget to use the definition of a scientific theory, but why let details get in the way of their 'reality'.  
  • Guillermo Gonzalez doesn't get tenure at ISU and it must be because of his support for ID, not because he failed in his duties, again why bother with facts!  
  • Nathaniel Abraham gets fired from his job as an evolutionary biologist can't possibly be because of his refusal to do his job, it must be because he supports Creationism/ID.  
  • David Coppedge get fired as part of a downsizing and it must be because he supports ID.  His appeal and lawsuit denied because of him trying to use his workplace to force his religious beliefs on his co-workers and there were numerous complaints.  Again, facts . . . the DI doesn't need them!
  • Can't get your pseudo-science published in real scientific journals, so just open your own journal and redefine peer-review to mean 'having a group of people who already agree with your religious ideas say nice things'.  The minor detail that real peer-review and your pseudo-peer-review have nothing in common matters not at all.
  • Look at the recent debacle they are crying about, the United Methodist Church denying them a table at the UMC's General Conference, something well within their rights to do, especially given their support for actual science.  It's called a 'banning' in a multitude of posts on any site where the DI has influence.
Hopefully now you understand why the DI would call opposing views as censors.  A couple of last thoughts.  Since the DI hasn't been able, or apparently willing, to substantiate ID with anything resembling science, they have nothing other than marketing.  Which could also explain why they have so few scientists working there.  It's mostly lawyers and philosophers.

It also explains why when I read anything coming from a DI-related source, like Evolution 'News' and Views, I try and investigate the real source of the issues.  The DI has proven over and over again that they have no credibility when presenting anything that it will even resemble objectivity.  I mean Canadian Quilters on the attack?  Seriously!

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