Saturday, February 11, 2017

More 'Knee-Jerkiness' from the Discovery Institute, Emphasis on Jerkiness

Any number of times I have mentioned the 'knee-jerk' reaction of the Discovery Institute (DI) when anyone does one of two things.
  • First, if you say something nice about Intelligent Design (ID), the DI falls all over itself to say nice things about you.  It doesn't seem to matter if what you say is pretty well meaningless, even if the bias of the author is well known -- case-in-point the recent posts (here and here) based on a new book by Tom Bethell.  
  • The other knee-jerk reaction is it you say anything that can be construed as negative about ID, they immediately jump on their keyboards and denounce you, usually claiming you didn't explain ID correctly and that you aren't fairly representing the official position of the DI.  case-in-point today's post: "In the Public Interest? ProPublica Misrepresents Intelligent Design and Discovery Institute Policy"
Here they hit both things -- but where??  Annie Waldman, the author of the article that offended Sarah so much pretty well hit the nail right on the head.  She [Annie] said:
  • ID is an outgrowth of Creationism.  Well isn't it?  It was proven in court, it was all over the DI guiding document, the only audience that the DI ever seems to talk to are religious ones.  Annie stated is clear as a bell, Sarah just wants to keep the religious aspects of the DI amd ID hidden in the dark, just like all the talking heads.
  • The DI advocates teaching ID under the guise of "critical thinking."  Isn't that also true?  The whole 'critical thinking' tactic is one of the many campaigns the DI has launched all . . . let me repeat that . . . ALL for their stated purpose of:
    "reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions." (Wikipedia: Wedge Strategy Document)
Annie's opening line:
"Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s pick as secretary of education, has funded groups that champion “intelligent design,” a sophisticated outgrowth of creationism. Science educators worry that she could use her bully pulpit to undermine the teaching of evolution in public schools."
To me, that sounds like a perfectly reasonable concern, but then, when is the DI interested in being reasonable?  Here we have someone who has supported groups pushing ID, including the Thomas More Law Center -- who, if you recall, defended the Dover School Board.  When DeVos' husband ran for Governor of Michigan, he publicly promoted ID for the classroom.  Plus, when you factor in her her support of privatizing public schools, I think we all have a right to be concerned.  How much you want to bet then when Betsy starts talking sending public school kids to private schools, she isn't talking anything but good old-fashioned Christian schools like the ones she and her kids went to?

Here's another article which also raises the same concern: "Dover ID case plaintiff worries about DeVos"  One of the plaintiffs in the Dover Case sees the same potential problem, DeVos using her new position to push her personal and religious agenda, even though the decision in the Dover Trial should have been the end of it.  Devos got involved with Michigan education, I don't know when, but I have read things haven't been moving in the right direction, for example:
"In 2003, Michigan ranked 28th in fourth-grade reading. In 2015, the state was ranked 41st." (Detroit Free Press)

So, this concern, so easily dismissed by Sarah, is a valid concern.  We now have a Secretary of Education with no background in education and with a very personal agenda concerning education, into which she has pumped a great deal of money and her impact in Michigan at best has been either negligible or horrible, but certainly nothing to build any confidence in her capabilities.  Sarah isn't concerned because she obviously shares that same agenda, but the rest of us should be very concerned.

As for Annie Waldman mis-representing the DI and their position on teaching ID in public schools, I have to refer back to this post from just under a year ago: "Does Anyone Actually Believe the Discovery Institute when They say They are not Advocating Teaching Intelligent Design?"  In case you don't feel like reading the whole thing, and it is a fairly long post, here are a few highlights:
  • The DI's Wedge Strategy Document outlining a 'teacher training strategy' aimed to gain acceptance from college and university presidents and faculty.
  • The DI was involved heavily in Dover Pa:
    • Why did Seth Cooper, a DI attorney, have several calls with William Buckingham (Chairman of the Dover School Board Curriculum Committee) discussing the legality of teaching ID?  (Trial Transcripts)
    • Why did the DI send Buckingham DVDs, videotapes, and books? (Trial Transcripts)
    • Why did two lawyers from the DI make a legal presentation to the School Board in executive session? (Trial Transcripts)
    • Why was the DI one of only two outside organizations consulted by the School Board  (The Thomas More Law Center was the other)?
  • DI's IDEA clubs, whose own website described as:
    "The Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Center is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting intelligent design theory and fostering good - spirited discussion and a better understanding over intelligent design theory and the creation - evolution issue among students,educators, churches, and anyone else interested.
    Our primary focus is to help students form "IDEA Clubs" on university and high school campuses to expand the dialogue over intelligent design" (
  • In Texas, if the DI is not advocating Intelligent Design, why were they 'advising' the Creationist head of the Texas State School Board on public school curricula and textbooks.
  • The DI's own Stephen C. Meyer proposed to the Ohio Board of Education the Institute's Critical Analysis of Evolution that prominently featured intelligent design. It also included a model lesson plan!
  • The DI's website featured: Key Resources for Parents and School Board Members  -- They have a ton of material here . . . and all geared to parents and school board members.  
Look at the recurring theme, school boards, individual school board members, teachers, students, school campuses, lesson plans . . . sure, the DI has no interest in teaching ID in the classroom!  If you believe that, I have a bridge over in Brooklyn for sale!  Any takers?

Actions always speak louder than 'official' positions, don't they?  The bottom line should be pretty simple for anyone to see.  Regardless of what they say 'officially', the Discovery Institute is interested in, has set a goal to, and is pursuing tactics to, replace actual science with their version of Creationism.

Their 'official' party-line is nothing but a tactic, and our experience has shown us that there is no tactic too low or too reprehensible for them to grasp and use because, like little kennie ham at Answers in Genesis, they are simply doing God's will, right?  Actually this specific tactic is probably because after all of their defeats in court and in places like Texas Kansas, and Ohio (even after an initial brush with success), they know an official push for ID would fail.  They, the DI, keep trying to disassociate ID from Creationism and also to officially disassociate themselves with their own ongoing efforts to insert their religion into the classroom.  Dover hurt them much more than they will ever admit and another major court failure might do what must be unthinkable for them . . . a loss of donations! 

So while the 'official' position might be not teaching ID in public schools, that is the end goal they are after, make no mistake.  So when people like Annie Waldman speak up and shines the light on their motivations and tactics, they have to quickly cover everything back up and act like they are not trying to push us back into the dark . . . the Dark Ages that is!  

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