Sunday, June 20, 2010


Dishonesty Institute

The National Center for Science Education has an excerpt from Massimo Pigliucci's Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk, specifically Chapter Seven, "Science in the Courtroom: The Case against Intelligent Design," about the Dover trial.

Naturally, that reminded me of Barbara Forrest's devastating testimony at the trial concerning "cdesign proponentsists." Not only was Of Pandas and People a distinct nail in the coffin of the school board's case, it provided yet another opportunity for dissembling by the Discovery Institute, the documenting of which is always worth a blog post.

The DI quickly realized (December 28, 2005, eight days after Judge Jones' decision) the need to distance ID from Pandas. John West, a former associate professor of Political Science, deigned to tell us why Judge Jones was wrong to place "great weight on the early intelligent design textbook Of Pandas and People."

Most of it is the usual bafflegab not worth commenting on. Some of it is just laughable, such as the claim that the change from the early drafts to the published text showed a rejection of creationism ... which might have had a chance of making sense but for "cdesign proponentsists," which clearly showed that the change was cosmetic only.

But this was the part that was the most dishonest:


If this case were being argued in 1989, Pandas might be more dispositive as an authoritative guide to the theory of intelligent design. But there is now more than 15 years of scholarship by scientists and philosophers of science who think there are empirical means to detect design in nature. Pandas predates most of the major works of the contemporary design movement in science, including monographs by Cambridge University Press, and technical articles in peer-reviewed science and philosophy of science journals. The primary guide to the beliefs and views of intelligent design scholars today should be this record of scholarly and scientific and technical articles, not a supplementary high school textbook written more than a decade-and-a-half ago.
Riiight! So why was the DI recommending Pandas to school boards?:

[S]chool boards have the authority to permit, and even encourage, teaching about design theory as an alternative to Darwinian evolution-and this includes the use of textbooks such as Of Pandas and People that present evidence for the theory of intelligent design.
Oh, that must have been early on? Back in 1989, right? No, it was in Intelligent Design in Public School Science Curricula: A Legal Guidebook, published as late as 1999, a full decade into the supposed "scholarly and scientific and technical" success of ID. Indeed, the captain of the H.M.S. Dover Titanic, Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Center, blamed Intelligent Design in Public School Science Curricula for seducing the school board into making asses of themselves and costing the children of the district a million dollars in education resources.

If IDers had any intellectual integrity, they wouldn't be IDers.

It surprises me that a small book at the secondary school level would ever be thought of as a definitive description of anything.

Yeah, but a book as small as "Look! That's complex, therefore, Goddidit!" would be pretty definitive description of ID and suitable for grade school kids.
Probably suitable for graduate classes in Intelligent Design as well, as a prerequisite for a course on "Investigations into the Power of 'Poof.'".
If IDers had any intellectual integrity, they wouldn't be IDers.

Here's another take - If IDers had any integrity, they wouldn't be IDers.

Or yet another take - If IDers had any intellects, they wouldn't be IDers.
There's more lies in that bit than just the Pandas' business. There's the lie that there's some serious body of peer-reviewed IDC literature out there. Ain't so.
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