Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Discovery Institute Omerta?

I'm a little torn reading this "Creationism Whistleblower: ‘Academic Freedom’ Is Sneak Attack on Evolution" mainly because I don't want to be guilty of one of the things I have said about many others, usually creationists.  One of my issues is that all too often when someone reads something that agrees with them, usually in a philosophical sense, they immediately voice their agreement with it.  Nothing wrong with that.  But all too often the next step is they are willing to say incredibly ridiculous things to defend it for no other reason that the philosophical agreement.

Over on Topix, for example, there is a poster whose main defense of his religious beliefs is the 'Law of Biogenesis' which, according to him, completely disproves the Theory of Evolution and thereby making his religious belief the only possible way life could have formed on Earth.  He conveniently ignores what the 'law' actually addressed, which was the belief in 'spontaneous generation' which claimed that life arises from non-life, addressing things such as maggots 'appearing' in meat, fleas came from dust, molds in bread, and so forth.  Pasteur repeated and expanded upon earlier experiments that proves the source of these forms of life were not inanimate materials.  The poster, who calls himself 'marksman11' co-opted the term and completely changed what Pasteur did in order to rationalize his religious belief in a form of Creationism.

For another example, look at the lengths little kennie ham and his Hamians over at Answers in Genesis will go to support their narrow beliefs . . . I mean 'rafts of trees knocked down by 'The Flood' to transport animals all over the world' as a rationalization for geographical biodiversity?  Seriously?  So when I read this article, I wanted to make sure I wasn't falling into the same trap . . . because I completely agree with every word said! 

If you aren't familiar with Zach Kopplin, he first came into public view fighting the poorly named "Louisiana Science Education Act" as a high school student in Louisiana.  He's been publicly recognized and awarded for his tireless efforts in support of science education and hopefully one day his efforts to have that ridiculous bill repealed will be successful!  In this article on 'The Daily Beast' site he interviews an unidentified former-employee of the Discovery Institute and that employee reveals a number of things that are really no surprise.  I don't normally like unnamed sources, but I also understand why some people wouldn't want to become a public face.  In all honestly I have no idea why anyone would want their  . . . 15 minutes of fame . . . in the first place.  Guess I am not wired that way.  But some of the things they say are things that I, and many others, have been saying for years.  Here is a small sample:

“DI [The Discovery Institute] is religiously motivated in all they do,”
“Critical thinking, critical analysis, teach the controversy, academic freedom—these are words that stand for legitimate pedagogical approaches and doctrines in the fields of public education and public education policy,  . . . That is why DI co-opts them. DI hollows these words out and fills them with their own purposes; it then passes them off to the public and to government as secular, pedagogically appropriate, and religiously neutral.”
Zach closed his article with a great line:
"Real academic freedom is important, but creationists like the Discovery Institute have corrupted its meaning to miseducate children." 
My only addition to the list of words the DI hollows out and fills them with their own purposes is 'Peer-Reviewed', which I discussed in a post just yesterday (Is it Peer-Reviewed?).  Keep up the good work Zach!  Would it be appropriate to say you are a credit to Louisiana High School education?  Or would it be more appropriate to say you are a credit in spite of a Louisiana High School education?

In any event, I do so agree with Zach, and this former DI employee, and not just philosophical grounds.  All of the evidence supports everything they have said.  The Wedge Strategy Document clearly shows the religious purpose guiding the DI.  They use of tactics like "Teach the Controversy" and "Academic Freedom" campaigns are well documented.  So it doesn't look like I am falling into that philosophical trap because unlike folks like 'marksman11' and kennie ham, evidence trumps superstition!

Now the DI has written about Zach many, many times, mostly by one of their shills, davey klinghoffer.  In fact just this past May davey once wrote a post that was an 'Open Letter to Zach's parents'.  In it he pretty much whined about their son being used by the apparently nefarious  'Darwin Lobby' and Zach's apparent refusal to allow the DI to 'educate' him.  Klingy closed with this:
"My suggestion? Have a talk with your son about his education, and about an unfortunate reality of the world, that zealots with a political agenda will try to use an enthusiastic person like himself to their own ends, which may not include a high regard for truth telling. If I were his father, I would want to see my boy buckle down, get his degree, prepare for a career, do something useful with his life, and something honorable."
I feel this was a pretty low point in klingy's career as a DI shill, but I am sure he'll stoop to lower tactics eventually, if he hasn't already.  Obviously Zach has been getting under their skin pretty regularly.  They've written about him over 20 times in the past couple of years.  I don't know if his parents ever saw this particular piece of trash, but I would be curious if they had any sort of reaction.  Back in 2011 Zach's father did have this to say:
"Asked about his son's political initiative, Kopplin called his eldest child "smart, courageous and relentless."

"Every 17-year-old, you know, they are quite independent thinkers," he said. "I'm extraordinarily proud of him. He's a strong-willed young man, and I'm proud of him." (For Kopplins, lobbying in state Capitol will be a family affair)
If Zach was a son of mine I would be proud of him on many levels.  First of all he is standing up for what he believes in, he's supporting actual science and science education, and he's not allowing the marketing efforts of the DI from succeeding in their pseudo-science attempts to impose their religious beliefs on the rest of us. 

The fun part will be seeing what kind of response Zach gets from the Discovery Institute.  Will they ignore it or will they play the 'disgruntled employee' card?  I wonder if any other former employees will come forward, or does their employment contract prohibit them from saying anything, sort of a Creationism Omerta clause?  We shall see!

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