Reflections During a Creationist Ceasefire

WE interrupt this blog to step back and take a look at the big picture. This moment of reflection is the result of something we’ve been wondering about lately: Why does writing our first post in the morning take us longer than it used to?

When we started this humble blog back in April of 2008, everything seemed easy. Finding blogable news stories was no problem at all. The neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists) were extremely active.

The Discoveroids had their useful idiots in various legislatures pushing their Academic Freedom Act in several states, and the Ben Stein movie Expelled was being released in a coordinated effort to goose up popular support. Ronda Storms was running wild in Florida. Louisiana’s legislature was considering an anti-science “academic freedom” bill of their own — which eventually passed. By midyear, things were heating up in Texas, which would result in the Texas Science Chainsaw Massacre.

In retrospect, it was a golden age for blogging about The Controversy between evolution and creationism. News stories were abundant, finding one or two we could use was easy, and our posts almost wrote themselves. We could do a day’s blogging early in the morning in less than an hour, and then go about our business. But it’s different now. Everything takes more time — and we’ve been wondering why.

Part of the answer is that we’ve been doing this for a couple of years. The longer we blog, the more we realize that it’s not enough to find a current news story and write about it. News doesn’t spring up fully formed, like Athena from the forehead of Zeus. Most of the interesting stories have a long tail. In all likelihood, the people and their organizations have a history of creationist activity. More and more, the story involves people we’ve written about before, so we need to review our growing archives in order to put the news in context. That takes time. We don’t mind, because the result is a better blog article; but it means we can’t write our posts as quickly as we could in the beginning.

Our real problem, however, is that news stories we can write about are becoming increasingly difficult to find. Unlike the old days, a Google search on “creationism” or “intelligent design” produces far fewer new hits than when we started, and our daily news sweeps sometimes completely fail to bring us an interesting story. In part that’s because most of the state legislatures aren’t now in session; but relatively few of them have ever considered creationism bills, so that’s far from the whole story.

Google is telling us something and we think it’s really quite simple — there’s a lot less going on that generates our kind of news.

There are still loads of creationists out there, and they’re still committed to their beliefs, but their story has been told. The science side of the story has also been told — and the creationists don’t look very good in the comparison. Most of the press have figured it out and they’ve lost interest. The Controversy is an old story that they’ve already written about — there’s little left to say. The result is that journalists won’t pay any attention to The Controversy unless their legislature is going berserk or a candidate for high office reveals that he’s crazy.

The press may be bored, but we understand what’s at stake better than they do, and therefore we haven’t lost any of our enthusiasm. When we can’t find anything newsworthy with a Google search, that doesn’t stop us — we’re going to write anyway. That sort of writing takes more time then merely commenting on a news story, but we like the extra effort required. To show you that you that nothing can keep a blogger down, we’ve decided that the scarcity of news is itself a story, so we’re going to write about what it means.

The absence of news is actually good news. It tells us that creationism — in all its forms — doesn’t command any serious press attention these days. Oh, theologians still write about it, but we don’t write about theology — we write about The Controversy. Okay, what else is the news shortage telling us?

We think it means that the Discoveroids are losing their public relations campaign. Whatever ability they once had to command press attention is slipping away — and they probably know it. They’ve failed to make their big breakthrough — both in science (where they never had a chance) and also in the arenas of legislation and school board action. It isn’t entirely over, but it looks like we may be arriving at the end-game.

The Discoveroids’ brief triumph in Kansas back in 2005 — the Kansas Evolution Hearings — vanished with the next school board election. The recent lunacy in Texas may fade for the same reason. In between those two events, intelligent design was utterly humiliated in a Dover courtroom — that’s the Kitzmiller case. Louisiana’s 2008 creationist legislation has entered a phase of self-destruction, caused by the uncontrollable stupidity of the school boards it was designed to empower (see: World-Class Idiocy). So at least for the moment, the creationist political movement is in a lull. That makes for difficult blogging, but it’s great news that ought to be recognized.

Before we start celebrating, we shouldn’t forget that these things are cyclical. The history of creationism prior to our blog (see Creationism Past and Present) reveals that there have been quiescent periods in the past, which always seem to end with a new burst of creationist activity. It may be that we’re in yet another temporary pause, during which the creationists are working out their next campaign.

What we find in our Google searches shows us only what rises to the surface. Whatever horrors may be bubbling up from below are, for now, hidden from sight. We have no idea what the Discoveroids may be plotting. Maybe they’re just waiting for a new (and dumber) generation of journalists and judges.

The Discoveroids’ old programs still exist, but they’re bogged down. Their wedge strategy has been blunted. At the moment, all they seem have going for them is a few pieces of litigation that are probably destined to go nowhere, but there are no guarantees. Meanwhile, they continue to promote their version of creationism by calling it anything but creationism. They are the champions of the dogma that dare not speak its name.

So we’ll continue searching for news and blogging about The Controversy — with a special attention to activities of the Discoveroids and their woeful crusade to bring down the Enlightenment. May their failures and disappointments be numerous and never-ending!

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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8 responses to “Reflections During a Creationist Ceasefire

  1. IMO some of the lull in the news results from people succumbing to Creationist pressures, without a fuss to generate a news story. We can practically guarantee that many Louisiana public school science teachers have taught Creationism as viable science, almost certainly for years now and probably for decades. Making a fuss leads to community shunning and attack; witness the accounts from the Dover plaintiffs, for example.

    That said, the lack of Creationist news is undeniably good from the crucial perspective of scientific viability. The ID “journal” BIO-Complexity has been completely stagnant, ever since its launch in late April 2010. The Biologic Institute has hardly fared better, with its latest blog entry of 9 June 2010,as of this comment. And on it goes. Conclusion: given clear opportunities to conduct and publish scientific research driven by the Creationist/ID framework of ideas, the Creationists stay away in droves. That clear lack of research makes a difference in the court cases, where Creationism/ID is allegedly “censored” by the scientific estalishment, because it demonstrates that there’s no scientific research drive in the first place, let alone any scientific research strongly supporting Creationism/ID.

    The election results matter. A logical target for Creationists is the public funding of “Darwinist” research. If they win in the court of public opinion, then much legitimate scientific research may be in jeopardy, because they may move to cut off funding such projects. I’m surprised that they haven’t tried this already.

  2. One would hope that with the increased access to information nowadays, that those spreading lies and misinformation about evolution would be more easily refuted. Unfortunately the internet makes it as easy for misinformation to spread instantly.

    Over ten years of reading the talk origins discussion group, I’ve noticed fewer creationists. Those who still participate can’t come up with anything that hasn’t been refuted a thousand times and spend much time quibbling over their definitions of what words mean.

    It is still very frightening that so many politicians successfully campaign by bragging about how much they are in denial of reality. That recent statement by a Baptist leader is just as stupid as if that Baptist leader were to insist that the earth is flat because the Bible says so regardless of all evidence to the contrary.

    A great irony is that many of these right wing religious nuts THINK they are helping America, when if they succeed in their efforts not only will it hurt our competitiveness in the global economy by dumbing down our kids, it will also go against everything this country stands for and the expressed wishes of the Founding Fathers.

  3. The Bicycling Guitarist says:

    One would hope that with the increased access to information nowadays, that those spreading lies and misinformation about evolution would be more easily refuted.

    I get the impression that creationists read only creationist websites. Good information is only a click away, but they don’t want to click. If they visit a rational blog or forum, it’s only to post a quick insult, and then they’re gone.

  4. People tend to select sources that feed their ideological biases. I’m no different than anybody else in that respect. However, I recognize that tendency, and so I TRY to overcome it by deliberately reading sources that I do not trust on occasion. It hurts, but IMO it helps in the long run.

    And since science doesn’t support Creationism, it’s no surprise that the typical non-professional Creationist never reads any professional science literature at all.

  5. Gabriel Hanna

    The appetite for woo is strong, and people who believe in those things don’t look for second opinions. Witness the government funding of homeopathy in Europe and India and the government funding of traditional Chinese medicine in China–and sad to say the US government is also spending a great deal of money on these things. No one wants to listen to the skeptics on these issues.

  6. This is just a quiet period whilst they lick their wounds and re-strategise the approach…. same as after Edwards when Creation Science was the name of the day.

    Wait for the inevitable books, as they are the triggers….you can hear busy typing as they are reformatting and cut and pasting as we speak.

    Be ready, for Creationism v4.0 is on its way. Your legal system is still vulnerable to their attacks, and so they will attack. The Wedgies wont ever stop till your laws stop them….and theres no sign of that yet.

  7. Curmie wrote:

    Everything takes more time — and we’ve been wondering why.

    Is this the “Royal We”, or this there more than one of you? Just curious. :-)

  8. Tomato Addict asks:

    Is this the “Royal We”, or this there more than one of you? Just curious.

    It’s the editorial we, sometimes called the authorial we. But it’s just me, your humble Curmudgeon.