Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Here is One of the Things that Annoys me about the Discovery Institute

In a brief post on their Evolution 'News' and Views site "The Physics of Intelligent Design" The Discovery Institute (DI) made prominent mention that David Snoke is a physicist who teaches at the University of Pittsburgh.  At first glance it looks like we have an outsider, a real scientist offering support for the DI and Intelligent Design (ID).  And if all you do is take their words in a straightforward manner, that's the impression you get.  However, knowing the history of the DI, I have to dig a tiny bit deeper -- as should anyone who reads their marketing material.

First glance and I see that Prof. Snoke is not a fellow at the DI.  Which I find refreshing.  In the past the DI tried to hide their affiliation, particularly when their members signed their little petition (the infamous list of 700 we've talked about before).  So that was a  positive sign, he might actually be objective.

While I don't expect to see someone's complete curriculum vitae, I would expect to be informed of any relationship with the DI when they go pushing his comments.  So the next question is does David Snoke have a relationship with the DI?  The answer is yes!

Prof. Snoke co-authored an article with Michael Behe.  Now Behe used this article during hearings in Kansas and during the Dover Trial as support for Intelligent Design.  In Judge Jones' Dover decision this paper, the only one cited by defense witnesses Behe and Scott Minnich (Both fellows at the DI), was called out:

"A review of the article indicates that it does not mention either irreducible complexity or ID. In fact, Professor Behe admitted that the study which forms the basis for the article did not rule out many known evolutionary mechanisms and that the research actually might support evolutionary pathways if a biologically realistic population size were used."(Wikipedia: David Snoke)
Now this would certainly be a negative and establishes that the Professor is a current drinker of the DI's particular brand of kool-aid and that relationship should be made clear whenever they are citing him.  But they can't do that, because I believe they want you to have the impression that this isn't a current supporter, that he is objective on the subject at hand.  But we can see he's not objective, but is involved.  He also published a review of Denton's latest effort on ENV.  I wonder if he's becoming a new poster-boy for the DI?

This isn't the first time this type of 'forgetting to mention connections' has occurred.  I wrote about it another time, and that one was a bit more blatant.  There was a trilogy of articles about ID back several years ago and one of them was by the DI's Stephen C. Meyer.  Aside from the article itself, which I discussed in "Intelligent Design, Sh** or get off the Pot!", Meyer said this in the article:
First, the scientific community is not uniformly opposed to ID. 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.
My response was this:
In my humble opinion Stephen C. Meyer is a liar. According to this quote Meyer states that Philip Skell and Norman Nevin were not previously advocates of Intelligent Design. Let's set the record straight, Skell is a Signatory of the very discredited "A Dissent From Darwinism", the list used in Discovery Institute intelligent design campaigns in an attempt to discredit evolution and bolster claims that intelligent design is scientifically valid by claiming that evolution lacks broad scientific support. Meyer is a liar, Skell may not have published a pro-ID fluff piece, but he is an advocate. Nevin is a supporter of "Truth in Science" a United Kingdom-based organization which promotes the "Teach the Controversy" campaign. It uses this strategy to try to get intelligent design taught alongside evolution in school science lessons. Meyer is once again, in my opinion, lying!
So you see, Meyer was much more deliberate about hiding connections, claiming that two ID supporters were not known to be ID supporters endorsed one of his books.  The tactic with Snoke is one of simply forgetting to mention any connections.

One last thing you might think about.  When looking up David Snoke I saw that he was actually there at the DI for a meeting of the 'Christian Scientific Society' and one of his previous publications was  A Biblical Case for an Old Earth.  I did mention this society last year when the DI both hosted and advertised for one of their meetings (So There is Nothing Religious about Intelligent Design (Part VIII)).

The DI is consistently trying to distance themselves for their appearing to be a Christian ministry.  I don't think this helped them any.  Their official position is they are a 'think tank'; however, their actions say a very different message.

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