Advocates of intelligent design at the Discovery Institute have been rattled by the strong showing of scientists at Southern Methodist University who called their bluff, and questioned SMU for hosting an ID conference this week. SMU’s officials pointed out they were just renting out facilities, and not hosting the conference at all.
The ID conference, with special religious group activities preceding it, is scheduled for April 13 and 14 at SMU. It is a rerun of a similar revival held in Knoxville, Tennessee, last month. The conference features no new scientific research, no serious science sessions with scientists looking at new research, or new findings from old data.
In return, ID advocates “challenged” scientists to show up at a creationist-stacked function Friday evening. To the best of my knowledge, all working scientists declined the invitation, on the understanding that in science, there is no debate.
This morning’s Dallas Morning News features the expected desperation move by Discovery Institute officials Bruce Chapman and John West. They accuse the scientists of being “would-be censors.”
This is highly ironic coming from the group that spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to convince the Texas State Board of Education to censor and bowdlerize* Texas biology books in 2003. (* Thanks, Jim Dixon)
But go read the stuff for yourself. Some of us have real work to do today, and there is not time for the appropriate, godly Fisking this piece deserves right now. (Readers? Friends?)
My dander is up, however, and I offer a counter challenge:
Discovery Institute, what is it you’re afraid of? Let’s meet, and discuss the ethical challenges you’ve experienced in this discussion. Specifically, let’s discuss:
One, your misrepresentation of the science of Darwin, and your repeated attempts to mislead school officials — remember the claim in Ohio that federal law requires discussion of intelligent design? Was that a hoax that fell flat, or an honest misunderstanding? In any case, we still await your disowning of the falsehood, years later.
Two, your support of unethical screeds against science and scientists. I’ll mention one here: You need to disown the dishonest and unethical work of Jonathan Wells. Look at his book, Icons of Evolution, which is promoted at your website. I call your attention to his chapter of misinformation against the work of Bernard Kettlewell on peppered moths. Check out the citations in his chapter. If one believes his footnotes, there are many scientists who support his views on Kettlewell’s pioneering and still valid work. You need to acknowledge that the footnotes are ethically challenged; you need to acknowledge in print that each of the scientists involved, and others, have disowned Wells’ work and said that his claims misrepresent their work and the status of science. In polite, scientific terms, these people have called Wells a prevaricator. You still promote his screed as valid.
Three, your support of name-calling must stop. Especially, you need to pull your support from books, conferences, and editorial pieces that say evolution was a cause of the Holocaust. The attempts to connect Darwin to Hitler are scurrilous, inaccurate, unethical and unholy.
Chapman, West, the Methodist Church does not endorse your views on evolution, and if they understood your tactics I suspect they would disown your tactics as well. You are guests on a campus that does serious science work and also hosts people of faith. You need to bring your organizations ethical standards up to a higher level.
You want a debate? The science journals are open — the federal courts have repeatedly found that claims of bias against you are completely unfounded (untrue, that is . . . well, you understand what I’m trying to say politely, right?). The journals await your research reports.
All of science has been awaiting your research reports for years, for decades. (Here’s one famous case: “Three Years and Counting,” at Pharyngula (a science-related blog run by an evolutionary biologist).
You want to debate? Stop hurling epithets, and bring evidence.
As an attorney, parent, teacher, and reader of Texas biology textbooks, I’d be pleased to debate your need to change your ways. The debate needs to focus on your methods and ethics. Are you up to it?
Earlier posts of interest: