Tuesday, September 2, 2014

That's deception, not concern

I have a Google News alert for stuff coming out of the Discovery Institute.  They have quite a bit of stuff coming out, but most of it is geared strictly for the drinkers of their particular Kool-aid and if I wrote something up for each of them, blogging would be a full time job and not a particularly well-paying one at that.  However sometime that news feed drops something worth thinking about.

However, before you get your hopes up, it is not an article by the Discovery Institute, but one about them.  In particular "Controlling Language Controls the Euthanasia Debate" caught my eye.  It's not a usual topic for this blog, but I wanted to highlight the tactic of 'Controlling Language'.  The author of the article goes into the DI's Wesley J. Smith complaining about using the 'v-word'.  The word is vegetative, as in a vegetative state, a medical term describing someone with few cognitive abilities usually due to accident or illness. Apparently they don't like the term ostensibly because of negative connotations about the word 'vegetable'.  They even go as far as associating it with the 'n-word' and all the negatives there.  Does that sound familiar, associating something you don't like with something no one likes and you gain support with little effort.  I know vegetative does have negative connotations, but then don't many medical terms have them?  Telling someone they have a 'dysfunction' makes people feel OK, doesn't it?  How about 'Walleyed'?  I have to ask, is 'Yellow Fever' the next target on the political politeness express?

The real question raised is more along the lines of is the DI the least bit interested in political correctness?  The author of the article doesn't think so. For some reason he thinks that they have a religious agenda when dealing with the concept of ending a life.  Are you kidding me, the Discovery Institute having a religious agenda and trying to use words to change the playing field!  How can he possibly think that?  My guess would be he's had experience with the DI before.

I think you know where I am going with this and how this ties into their position and tactics on science education.  I would like to remind you about a few words:  theory, belief, controversy, Darwinism, Materialism, weaknesses, academic freedom . . . We've talked about many of them before.  The tactic is common from the DI.  They frequently change how words are used in order to control the debate.  My favorite example, of course, is the word Theory.  Science uses the word with one definition that is very different from the colloquial definition.  The phrase 'Evolution is only a Theory!' is designed to try and cast doubt and make people think that as a theory, it's only an idea, a concept and one not with much actual support.  Of course, in science, the word 'theory' is about the highest pinnacle anything can achieve.  It has tremendous levels of support and applicability that a run-of-the-mill 'idea' cannot compete with.  If an idea cannot compete with a theory, then you either have to raise the idea up, or tear the theory down.  How much work has the DI done raising their idea of Intelligent Design up as compared to how much effort they have put into trying to tear evolution down?  Pretty lopsided if you ask me.  In fact how much actual work have thy put into Intelligent Design?  Haven't seen much, have we?

The word 'Darwinism' is another example.  The suffix 'ism' is a derived word used in philosophy, politics, religion or other areas pertaining to an ideology of some sort (definition from from Wikipedia).  The definition goes on to say that it is frequently used derogatorily.  Now, a long time use of 'ism' is 'Creationism'.  It certainly applies as a philosophy and religious concept.  It is also frequently used in a derogatory way because of the connotation of ignoring science, denying evidence, and attempting to push a strictly religious agenda into any aspect of education.

So, when you are fighting an uphill battle with the negative connotations of 'Creationism' why not take a two-fold approach.  First distance yourself from Creationism and constantly deny any connection.  Sound familiar?  It took a Federal Court (Kitzmiller v. Dover) to remind everyone that Intelligent Design is Creationism in the same way 'Creation Science' was nothing more than Creationism dressed up a little bit. 

The other plank in this platform is trying to make the scientific theory of Evolution nothing more than another 'ism'.  I guess 'Evolutionism' would have been to weird to say, so why not attack Charles Darwin and the scientific theory at the same time?  Let's see, how many things have they blamed Charles Darwin for?  Pretty much everything bad in the 19th and 20th century.  Now in reality, what is Darwinism?  It has nothing to do with Evolution because the current state of evolutionary theory would be barely recognizable to Darwin, but facts like that have no room in the DI's version of reality.  Doubt about Darwin could very well cause some to doubt the theory.  Never lose sight that the DI's target audience are not scientists, it's politicians, school board members and the general public who vote for them and who contribute to causes they support.

Without going through every term, briefly consider how they try and equate belief in God with belief in a scientific theory, how they denigrate the naturalistic philosophy of science and try and include the supernatural, and how they treat science's ability to adjust as we learn new things as a weakness in science.  The list is pretty much endless.

I hope you would think about the DI's use of words and realize that while they are prolific when it comes to marketing and send out lots of articles, books, and frequently comment on any subject near and dear to their hearts, their use of terminology is very deliberate and designed [pun intended] to aid in their objectives.  They aren't concerned with political correctness, they are only interested in their own righteousness and any tactic, even trying to redefine the words involved, is fine with them if they think it changes the playing field in their favor. 

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