Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Hey Discovery Institute, there is a difference between Criminal and Unethical

Davey 'klingy' Klinghoffer is at it again, trying to make it sound like we should feel sorry for Intelligent Design (ID) proponents.  Sorry, klingy, it's not going to happen.  Here's link to his post:  "Prosecute Darwin Skeptics Under RICO Act?"  Like he has done before, he's drawing an imaginary parallel to gain some level of sympathy. Do you feel sorry for ID proponents? I certainly do not.

First the article he quotes, he does quote, but then he blows it all out of proportion, at least that's how I see it.  Look at his own quotes:

' . . . prosecute groups that "have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America's response to climate change." ' 
Look at the quote carefully.  No one was advocating prosecuting climate change deniers, but those who are using such denial as a means to forestall our responding to it.  Whether you agree with it or not, Climate Change is a potential danger, and, again whether you agree, some effort should be going into examining that danger and developing plans to deal with it.  Anyone who knowingly is taking actions to 'forstall' a response is not acting in a particularly wise fashion.

A parallel is made, in the original article, to the use of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is helping to deal with the issues around tobacco and dealing with the actions the tobacco industry undertook to forestall any response on the dangers of tobacco, actions they successfully delayed any organized response for decades.  Would anyone deny that their actions were detrimental to the American public, yet it was certainly good for their profits.

Another example, leaded gasoline.  In the 1920's the dangers of lead as a gasoline additive was known, but the industry that produced the lead additives fought any changes.  They even funded a prominent scientist to stall any serious examination of the dangers of lead.  It took 50 years before the United States finally acted.  Guess who funded most of the research into the dangers of lead additives?  The lead industry, of course.  Again, their actions delayed dealing with a serious problem for decades and yet that industry profited greatly during those decades.

See a trend?  Even when something currently common is found to be a significant danger, there is a core element that continues to profit from it . . . and they fight any changes that will cut into their profits.  Sounds like the current Climate Change arguments, doesn't it.

The article is NOT planning on prosecuting just any climate change deniers, but those who deliberately take actions designed to delay a response.  Now, why would any group want to delay a response?  Guess who funds a great deal of climate change research?  The oil companies, of course.  So the real thrusts of the possibility of legal actions isn't someone who is expressing an opinion, but a coordinated group action designed to profit by America's inaction.  Remember, it was the action of the tobacco and oil companies that eventually led to their legal issues, not simply an opinion.

So now let's get to klingy's whine.  Would anyone put intelligent design proponent actions in the same category?  Not by a long shot.  The main reason is how much impact have they really had?  They are an annoyance more than a danger.  So trying to draw a parallel at this point in time would be ridiculous.  While their actions are self-serving, they haven't reach a point where their danger is more than theoretical.  Again, it's their actions that could lead to some sort of action to censure them, and to date their actions have been pretty minor league compared to the oil or tobacco companies.

Is it possible at some time in the future their actions could present a danger to the point of legal action?  I have to say yes.  Since their actions are motivated by religion, have there been examples, recent examples, where religion was used to interfere with medical services?  If you need a few examples, I posted these last month: Ian, Neil, Matthew, Austin, Amy, Robyn, Andrew, Harrison, Nancy, Dennis, Arrian, Zachery, Troy, Shauntay, and Rhett.  So until the DI's efforts start having a much greater negative effect on biology, medicine, or other sciences to the point where lives are endangered, they will keep being more a mosquito bite than a significant problem.

Climate Change deniers, specifically those funded by the oil industry, have a lot in common with those who denied the dangers of tobacco and lead while continuing to profit from them.  It was their actions and the impact of those actions that caused the various responses.  To date, the DI hasn't done anything that I think could be considered illegal.  Think it through -- when you know tobacco is dangerous and you claim otherwise so you can continue profiting from it . . . that's illegal, hence the use of the RICO Act.  In my opinion the DI's actions fall more into unethical.  For example is it ethical to change the definition of the word Theory when trying to contrast a scientific theory with just an idea?  Or to deny the religious underpinnings of ID?  How about to try and change the explanation of real scientific work, claiming it in some way supports ID?  Or claiming Evolution's imminent demise?  No, these things are not illegal.  Foolish, certainly, and I believe unethical, but not illegal.  You might by what standard of 'ethical behavior' am I using to judge.  ID is a religious proposition, and when asked 'unofficially', ID proponents like to identify the intelligent designer as the Christian God.  Well I was brought up in that particular faith and guess what one of the sins you would confess every week?  Lying, of course.  So when I look at the actions of the DI, I can only call them unethical, because it's not up to me to call what they do as a 'sin'.  I guess they are more like little kennie ham (AiG and Creation 'Museum' infamy) than they would like to admit, especially when it comes to lying for Jesus.

One last comment by klingy:
"I hesitate to even articulate this, for fear of putting an idea in someone's mind. On the other hand, Darwinists don't need me to help them cook up schemes for striking out against dissenters."
Don't worry klingy, no one outside of your little circle of science deniers pays much attention to your ideas.  The real scientists working in evolutionary biology have no problem with dissenters.  Ones who are working with actual science often lead to changes in evolutionary theory (evo-devo, punctuated equilibrium . . .).  Dissenters who push pseudo-science, like the Discovery Institute, tend to get ignored.  It's when they impact science education that they get any attention.  Why do you think they target high schools?  You would expect they to take aim at science, but for that they have to do science.

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