Monday, February 6, 2017

Evolution, It's All The Fault of the Media!

The Discovery Institute's (DI) little davey 'klingy' klinghoffer is positively gushing over this:  "Tom Bethell's Rebuke to Fellow Journalists: A Skeptical Look at Evolution Is Not Beyond Your Powers", I have to wonder why.  I see all the nice things he claims and all the nice things he says others say about Tom Bethell, which tells me a few things.  This guy in not a 'fellow' at the DI, but if they had a 'Friends of the DI', Bethell would certainly be listed there.  Little klingy says:

"I admit he's a longtime friendly acquaintance and a contributor to Evolution News, so I'm not unbiased. But others who, like me, have followed him for years agree in savoring his work."
For a change, klingy admits to being biased, which is very unusual.  The normal course of actions is for the DI talking head to hide any previous relationship of bias, like what Stepehn C. Meyer did when he said:
"My recent book on the subject received enthusiastic endorsements from many scientists not previously known as advocates of ID, such as chemist Philip Skell, a National Academy of Sciences member, and Norman Nevin, one of Britain's top geneticists."
When in reality both Nevin and Skell were already ID proponents, just not DI fellows (Intelligent Design Sh** or Get Off the Pot).  Or like when a new DI talking head was announced, Heather Zeigler, was announced with:
"Today we welcome a new contributing writer to Evolution News & Views, Heather Zeiger. Ms. Zeiger graduated magna cum laude from the University of Texas at Dallas with a B.S. in chemistry and a minor in government and politics. She received her M.S. in chemistry, also from UTD; her research was in organic synthesis and materials."
Bragging about her education, but forgetting to mention her more complete background and why she was perfect for the DI (So there is nothing religious about Intelligent Design? Part II):
"She interned at Probe Ministries prior to graduate school and now serves with Probe as a Research Associate. Her interests involve science and culture issues, including bioethics, origins, and the environment. She is currently working on a M.A. in bioethics from Trinity International University. "
That's why it's so funny for klingy to be open about his bias, usually they try and hide those minor details that make it look like they are stacking the deck . . . oh wait, it doesn't make it look like they are stacking it, they are stacking it and think the rest of us aren't smart enough to realize it.

So, my guess is Bethell has said some nice things about Intelligent Design (ID) in the past, at least that is my suspicion.  His name rings a small bell, but I am not sure from where.  Time to do a little Googling and see what I can find.  As for the reason for my suspicion, it's simple -- klingy is gushing and "savoring", that's more than a little disturbing.  The last time he gushed like this was following a visit to a strip club. (Strip Clubs and David Klinghoffer)

Wow, that took all of 8 seconds and one click after searching for Bethell.  According to Wikipedia:
"Bethell is a member of the Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV-AIDS Hypothesis which denies that HIV causes AIDS. In the The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science (2005), he promotes skepticism of the existence of man-made global warming, AIDS denialism, and skepticism of evolution (which Bethell denies is "real science"), promoting intelligent design instead." (Wikipedia: Tom Bethell)
No wonder klingy loves him!  He is already a drinker of the kool-aid and has been for quite a while.  OK, now we have a better context for anything Tom Bethell has to say, and a good understanding as to why he's in the very good graces of the DI.  let's look at what he says and what klingy says about his book.  Little klingy sorta summarizes the whole thing with:
"Lo and behold, it's not beyond the intellectual reach of a reporter to get to the bottom of the controversy and to estimate the plausibility of Darwin's theory."
I guess this makes sense since the DI has been on a kick lately about how anyone's intuition is as good, or better than scientific investigation.  So having a reporter, especially one already in bed with the DI estimate the plausibility of the Theory of Evolution . . . which I should remind klingy that 'Darwin's Theory' is 150+ years old and has been augmented and detailed by hundreds, even thousands of scientists to the point that most would be unrecognizable to Darwin.  But that being said, you can see how and why klingy would rely more on a reporter than on actual scientists doing real science and studying biology instead of journalism.  He further says about Bethell:
"Not a religious apologist or a cheerleader for any competing view, but rather an old-fashioned skeptic"
 Really?  Read the stuff on Bethell from Wikipedia again.  Does this sound like an old-fashioned skeptic?  AIDS/HIV denier, climate change denier, evolution denier . . . this is not a skeptic, but an old-fashioned denier.  How can you tell the difference?

We discussed this a little just recently, basically a skeptic is someone who questions, but as the questions are answered, the skepticism is reduced.  A denier is someone who refuses to face the evidence, or when faced with it -- they denies it.  Deniers seem to feel their opinion outweighs everything else. We discussed this a bit last year when . . . oh look, guess who . . . klingy was whining that the NY Times was going to change terminology and call climate-change skeptics 'climate-change deniers'.  (Skeptics vs Deniers, is there a difference?).  We also discussed it a bit more recently in a very nice post: Skepticism vs. Scholarship (From James F. McGrath).  The bottom line seems to be that, to the DI, if you agree with Intelligent Design, then you are a 'skeptic' of evolution.  However, if you believe in evolution, you are denying Intelligent Design.  That reminds me of an old lesson in terms "I am firm, you are stubborn, and they are bull-headed" using different terms to mean the same thing, but expressed differently depending on your target.  The DI seems to think something along these lines:  "I disagree with you makes me a skeptic.  You disagree with me makes you a denier."  The difference, the part the DI can't seem to remember, is the actual evidence.

Obviously, as an ID proponent, anything Bethell denies makes him a DI version of a skeptic, but to the rest of the world, he's a denier -- he just happens to be one that writes well, at least klingy thinks so. Although in my opinion that's probably more of a Halo Effect.  Well, reading though klingy's comments, and his purported quotes from Bethell, he says:
"He concludes that while confidence in the pillars of Darwinism -- common descent and innovation through natural selection -- hit their high-water mark at the centenary celebration of the Origin of Species in 1959, the evidence has steadily and increasingly gone against the theory. The whole edifice rested on a 19th century faith in Progress, propped up by a dogmatic commitment to materialism. As the former falters, the structure is in danger of collapse."
Ah yes, yet another prediction in the imminent demise of the Theory of Evolution, which has also been called "The Imminent Demise of Evolution: The Longest Running Falsehood in Creationism".  Little klingy also called it 'Darwinism' here which immediately reveals his prejudice.  I would call this less a conclusion and more an opinion.  While klingy mentions all this 'evidence', why is it that he, and the rest of the DI, never managed to produce it?  

So what this is, is nothing more than a restatement of a few of the DI's latest tactics. 
  • First characterize someone as being reasonable and even unbiased, when in reality he's a firm believer.  
  • Then toss out the idea that you don't have to be a scientist to raise unsupported questions about Evolution -- so simple even even a journalist can do it, or should we call such journalists 'pseudo-journalists'?  
  • Finally come to the 'conclusion' that edifice of evolution is about the collapse, something people have been predicting since Darwin first published.

And klingy calls us naive about understanding and accepting evolution?  He also put the blame on the media:
"The naivety is heartbreaking, foisted on us by the credulous, pampered media. "
Little klingy forget to mention the clear majority of the educational system which teaches actual science rather than pseudo-science.  He also forgets the the something like 99% of scientists in biology and biology-related fields who understand accept evolution.  Yes, he forgot the mention all of the avenues in which we reach this level of 'naivety'.  Does he also forget to mention how often he, and the rest of the DI, complain about the media if they don't say nice things about ID?  So . . . bottom line . . . since the media rarely says anything nice about ID, therefore it's the media's fault that evolution is taught at all.

What I expect to see is a rash of articles complaining about the media.  It's currently in vogue right now.  Since, according to the DI, the media won't give ID equal billing with real science, let's join the Trumpist-style circus and attack the media.  Too bad they can't seem to put the same energy in supporting their pseudo-scientific ideas as they so attacking anyone who disagrees while fawning over those few that agree with them.  

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