Friday, September 18, 2009


Arcane Discovery

In no surprise at all, the Discovery Institute's Ministry of Misinformation is claiming that it is being subjected to "Suppression and Censorship" because the science-respecting part of the blogosphere is upset about the screening of the DI's propaganda film, Darwin's Dilemma: The Mystery of the Cambrian Explosion, at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

Well, sort of. In fact, Robert Crowther quotes from a post by PZ Myers (though, for the moment, at least, he links to a different follow-up post) that nowhere recommends that the museum refuse the DI the use of its auditorium. Instead, they quote PZ to the effect that having such an event puts a "little spot of schmutz on [the museum's] glossy reputation" and that the "University of Oklahoma biology professors ... the staff of the museum ... [and] the rational people of the state of Oklahoma ... should all be rising up in disgust to mock this ridiculous affair."

This Crowther calls "an implicit threat of censorship." I suppose the sort of mentalist ability to discern censorship in a call for more speech is the same power that enables IDeologists to detect science in their theological babblings.

The follow-up article from PZ makes it even clearer, if possible, that he is not calling for censorship:

They [the museum staff] need to address the dishonesty directly: stir up controversy of their own to get people to want to hear the rebuttals. Don't claim to respect every religious belief out there; point out that this religious belief is incredibly bad science and rotten theology, and have people lined up to criticize it without the lame excuses. They don't need to bring in a bunch of atheist hired guns to do that, either: they almost certainly have biologists on campus with religious views of all kinds who will happily agree that intelligent design creationism is garbage.

This also gives the lie to the equally predictable bafflegab that "Darwinists" are worried by "a small, independent film." No one should be sanguine about pseudoscience invading an institution of learning, anymore than we should be unconcerned if Holocaust deniers had managed to book the Holocaust Museum for an evening of ignorance. But PZ doesn't exhibit any fear of Darwin's Dilemma. Instead, he wants make noise about the film and use it as a chance to stir the curiosity of the very people the DI has been misleading and perhaps get them to listen to science's side.

When you have facts instead of sleight of hand on your side, bright light and an open display of what you are doing presents no problem.

I think the museum ought to put up a display of ID research for the day of the film showing. They could set up a card table in the hall outside the screening room, with a card that reads "There's nothing here."
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