Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Freudian Spit

Ah, David Klinghoffer is over at the Discovery Institute's Ministry of Misinformation practicing the fine art of projection. Ironically, it begins with an admission dressed up as an accusation:

The power of a slogan is that if you say it over and over again enough times, the effect is like brainwashing on yourself and many of the people who listen to you. It crowds out thought, to the point where, when a particular topic comes up in conversation, the slogan-imprinted mind simply spits back the slogan.

That's a perfect description of the Intelligent Design Movement's tactics from the very beginning –- declare there is a "controversy" about the scientific basis of evolutionary theory and keep saying it as loud and as often as you can until people who are unfamiliar with science start to believe it. Except Klinghoffer tries to turn it around and claim that scientists, who only belatedly began to pay much attention to such an obviously unscientific proposition as ID, are the ones who are sloganeering.

His "case" in point is how scientists have been reacting to Michael Behe's mess of a book, The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism, which, among other things, accuses the "Designer," who Behe has said he thinks is God, of deliberately designing the malaria parasite to be as infectious and damaging to human beings as it is.

To Klinghoffer, the very fact that scientists deign to respond to Behe shows that there is a controversy. Of course, if they didn't respond to him, Kinghoffer would claim it was because "Darwinists" have no answer to Behe's claims. And using Behe's latest book, published only in 2007, as his "proof" that there is a controversy merely highlights the scarcity of anything even close to a scientific case for ID, which has, nonetheless, been shouting "controversy" since at least 1991, when Phillip Johnson's Darwin On Trial was published.

In a sense, Klinghoffer's right. There is a controversy -- it just isn't a scientific controversy. It's a political and educational controversy, of the sort that is going on in Texas and numerous other states. It's a controversy about whether we, as a nation of laws, should allow any group to subvert our Constitution and inject their religious beliefs into public school science classes. It's that political controversy that has the Texas Republican party trying to intimidate State Board of Education members who happen to take their duties, both to the Constitution and the children of the state, seriously, in an attempt to get them to vote against their consciences and to support pseudoscience.

So scientists have to try to educate the portion of the public who are not already committed creationists that the sciencey-sounding blather of people like Behe is not anything like science as it is actually practiced. Pointing out that something is nonsense does not make it somehow less nonsensical. It merely points out how politically potent nonsense can be.

The only other controversy that is brought to light by Klinghoffer is whether or not there is a limit to the dishonesty of ID advocates. Based on this article, there certainly doesn't seem to be.

The lack of controversy kept me from closely reading your blog post. I scanned it for a couple of seconds, but the lack of controversy wouldn't make it worth my time to actually read it.

Stow your paranoia, I'm not with the DI, just a reader interested in the heated lack of controversy that's been going on for more than a decade.
Aw, then you must have missed the part where I said there was a controversy ... a political one over whether some people will be permitted to undermine our Constitution. And that controversy has been going on for much longer than a decade.
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