21 September 2005

Chutzpah, pure chutzpah

There's an article in today's York Dispatch about the upcoming Intelligent Design lawsuit. This particular article discusses the rats leaving the sin Discovery Institute's principled decision not to support the Dover school district in this case. Most of the quotes from the various DI talking heads is the usual stuff, but there was one statement attributed to Casey Luskin that displays a disregard for reality that is below and beneath even the rather loose standards of the Discovery Institute:
He [Luskin] said the Discovery Institute is "not trying to hinder their case in court," but the organization wants intelligent design to be debated by the scientific community, not school boards

"Debated by the scientific community, not the school board."

I was honestly shocked to read that. After almost a decade of following the various creationist strategies, I thought I'd seen every type of dishonesty possible, but this really takes things to an all time low.

"Debated by the scientific community, not the school board."

That's just about as far as you can get from everything that the Discovery Institute has actually done. Their fellows spend inordinate amounts of time pushing their philosophy in political forums, particularly educational ones. The scientific output of the Discovery Institute, measured in terms of material published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, is absolutely pitiful. The output of the Discovery Institute, measured in terms of press releases, op eds, letters to the editor, and other attempts to push their message in the public arena, is impressive.

But don't just take my word for it. The Discovery Institute has a list of "Peer-Reviewed and Peer-Edited Publications Supporting the Theory of Intelligent Design" up on their website. Scanning down the list, one can quickly count 34 separate items. Looking a bit more closely, one finds that three items are listed twice - once in the "featured articles" section at the top, then again in the appropriate section further down. Looking closer still, one finds that they listed a book which was edited by two of their fellows as one item, and then listed five chapters from that same book as separate items.

The following items are listed as "Articles Supportive of Intelligent Design Published in Peer-Reviewed Scientific Journals":

  • S.C. Meyer, “The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories,” Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 117(2) (2004): 213-239.
  • M.J. Behe and D.W. Snoke, “Simulating Evolution by Gene Duplication of Protein Features That Require Multiple Amino Acid Residues,” Protein Science, 13 (2004): 2651-2664.
  • W.-E. Lönnig & H. Saedler, “Chromosome Rearrangements and Transposable Elements,” Annual Review of Genetics, 36 (2002): 389-410.
  • D.K.Y. Chiu & T.H. Lui, “Integrated Use of Multiple Interdependent Patterns for Biomolecular Sequence Analysis,” International Journal of Fuzzy Systems, 4(3) (September 2002): 766-775.
  • M.J. Denton & J.C. Marshall, “The Laws of Form Revisited,” Nature, 410 (22 March 2001): 417.I.
  • M.J. Denton, J.C. Marshall & M. Legge, (2002) “The Protein Folds as Platonic Forms: New Support for the pre-Darwinian Conception of Evolution by Natural Law,” Journal of Theoretical Biology 219 (2002): 325-342.

That's a grand total of six articles that have been published within the last five years, for an average of 1.2 articles per year. That publication rate wouldn't be considered to be overly impressive coming from a single scientist, let alone from ten. It's even less impressive when you consider the fact that the DI's center for The Renewal of Science and Culture has about 40 fellows.

Over the same period, the Discovery Institute and its fellows have released dozens, if not hundreds, of press releases and op-eds advocating that their views be taught in public school classes in various parts of the country. Its fellows have testified before school boards and textbook adoption committees. They have waged, in short, a very agressive public relations campaign (even going so far as to hire a well-known public relations firm) trying to build popular support for their views.

Those are not the actions of a group of people who want to debate their views within the scientific community. Those are the actions of a group of people who are hoping that they can use a miniscule number of peer-reviewed articles as a scientific fig leaf to cover a religious agenda. If they really wanted to debate their views within the scientific community, they would be doing just that. They would be formulating and testing hypotheses, doing experiments, writing papers, and focusing their efforts at convincing scientists. They would certainly not be putting the vast bulk of their efforts into public relations.

They also wouldn't have been saying things like this:
[from a DI press release] The Discovery Institute today faulted defenders of Darwin's theory for refusing to defend their views before the Kansas State Board of Education and for being afraid to answer tough questions about the scientific problems of modern evolutionary theory.

“Darwinian scientists showed contempt for science and the citizens of Kansas by refusing to appear before the State School Board,” said Dr. Jonathan Wells, a biologist at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.

"Debated by the scientific community, not the school board." What utter, unmitigated hypocrisy.
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