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.