Monthly Archives: December 2010

Looking Ahead: The Controversy In 2011

This is how we see the coming year shaping up regarding The Controversy between evolution and creationism. Our estimate is that at least half of all legislators and bureaucrats are incurably befuddled, so it’s impossible to predict what they’ll do in the year ahead. What follows, however, is a list of the events we’re watching, and our assessment of the situation. Some of this is copied from our year-end post last year, because certain things just don’t change.

Legislation Watch:

Several states will introduce new creationist legislation. It’s likely that we’ll see more attempts to enact some version of the Academic Freedom Act, sponsored by 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).

All such laws, and the newer versions that require teaching evolution’s alleged “weaknesses,” are intended to impose state-mandated affirmative action for creationism. Because creationism is a lifetime obsession for some legislators, they introduce the same bills year after year. Therefore, the states so affected will include many that have already dealt with such legislation in the past.

We are definitely expecting something totally crazy from Oklahoma’s Josh Brecheen. See Creationist Cretin.

For all such legislative attempts, we shall continue to urge rational members of those lawmaking bodies to consider The Curmudgeon’s Amendment, although no one has paid any attention to it yet. It’s designed to neutralize “academic freedom” laws. Then, as a potential legal argument (merely one of many that can be made) we suggest trying this: “Academic Freedom Act” — Presumptively Void.

Regarding the dates for legislative sessions, this website has useful information, but it’s always subject to change: 2011 Legislative Session Calendar.

Election Watch:

There won’t be much election activity in 2011. For the creationists who won important elections in 2010, see Post-Election Wrap-up: Creationism’s Impact.

Congress Watch:

It’s almost impossible to track what’s really happening in the US Congress, because they keep passing 2,000-page bills and no one knows what’s in them. We’re not aware of anything in particular that concerns us (other than everything in general), but we keep an eye on especially goofy legislators — especially those mentioned in Post-Election Wrap-up: Creationism’s Impact.

Media Watch:

Expect more creationist books to be written and fanatically promoted. There’s a big market for pseudo-science and the occult. Creationists will continue to produce and promote their strange “documentaries” like Darwin’s Dilemma. If we’re not careful, material like that will end up in some unfortunate kid’s science class.

Creationist articles, especially by Discoveroids, will pop up in otherwise respectable general-circulation publications. Journalists rarely know anything about science, so they’re always vulnerable to the peculiar jargon-filled essays that Discoveroids know how to write. Journalism is therefore a continuing target of creationists.

The usual creationist websites and museums will continue to flourish. Ignorant people take vacations, and they also cruise the internet. They need their fantasies reinforced. One matter we’ll be watching closely is Ken Ham’s Noah’s Ark Theme Park.

Bureaucratic-Administrative Watch:

The creationist-dominated Texas State Board of Education (SBOE), presided over by Gail Lowe (successor to the creationist dentist Don McLeroy, who was defeated in a primary election last year), will have an interesting year.

Louisiana continues to bear watching, because it’s the only state in the US that can boast of passing one of those anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism “Academic Freedom” laws promoted by the Discoveroids — it’s the Louisiana Science Education Act (the “LSEA”) that was passed in 2008. That law encourages the use of unspecified “supplemental materials” — wink, wink — in science classes. Nothing of significance has happened yet, but it probably will.

Local School Board Watch:

Their minor eruptions are sometimes amusing, but rarely of any real importance. There will always be a few local boards that reveal their insanity during the year, which is understandable. Most voters don’t pay attention to such elections, and many boards end up populated by ostensibly civic-minded real estate brokers, insurance salesmen, funeral directors, used car dealers, and dentists’ wives; but they’re really out to promote their own businesses or to relieve boredom. Such people are utterly unqualified to make decisions about science curricula and texts, but they often imagine themselves to be on a divinely ordained mission to teach creationism in government schools. We anticipate that a brief lecture by their attorneys about the Kitzmiller decision will be sufficient to overcome such occurrences. That’s all it’s taken to stifle such outbreaks in recent years.

Court Watch:

Several court cases about The Controversy are awaiting trial or on appeal. You can find links to our articles on many of them here: The Controversy. Among the still-unresolved cases we’ve discussed are the David Coppedge case, the James Corbett case (appellate decision expected soon), the “Darwin’s Dilemma” Exhibition case, and Martin Gaskell’s suit against the University of Kentucky.

Discoveroid Watch:

As in previous years, creationist political agitation in the US seems primarily due to the activities of the Discoveroids. Our original analysis of their goals and intentions remains operative, presented here: Enemies of the Enlightenment.

From past experience, the Discoveroids have learned that they’re always going to be vigorously opposed, so it’s only worth their time to operate at the state or national level. Besides supporting “academic freedom” legislation, Discoveroids know that the elected or appointed functionaries in state-level school boards can have a big impact — not only on classroom curricula, but also on textbook purchases.

The Discoveroids’ asset base consists of two parts. The first is their visible “think tank” in Seattle, which enjoys significant sources of funding. But that’s merely the tip of the iceberg. The second part is a large, faith-based network of sympathetic supporters whom they’ve backed in elections to local school boards and state legislatures around the country, including some members of Congress. They also have an undetermined number of other accomplices in various advocacy groups and in the media. Some of them are card-carrying creationists, while others are fellow travelers and useful idiots who eagerly do the Discoveroids’ bidding.

They haven’t been doing well lately in their legislative efforts, and of course they have no actual science they can point to, so they seem to be pinning all their hopes on the courts. Lately they’ve been on a campaign to slip innocuous survey articles into lesser-known journals that make favorable mention of the “theory” of intelligent design. This appears to be in preparation for their next court contest, so they can cite some published articles and thus claim that their mumbo-jumbo is accepted as science. But the ploy is just too transparent. It’s possible that they’re doing this merely to satisfy their financial donors, by creating the appearance that they’re making scientific progress. It could be for both reasons. One never knows.

Long Term Outlook:

Despite all the noise they make, creationists have had no impact on science, industry, agriculture, medicine, academia, or any other rational endeavor. We often fail to notice what doesn’t exist, but we shouldn’t overlook the fact that creationists have failed to accomplish anything of any substance whatsoever. Nor are any such accomplishments likely in the future.

Due to their failed efforts to gain scientific respectability, creationists’ only hope is in the field of politics. They need a sympathetic majority on the US Supreme Court, in order to reverse a string of decisions which have prevented their ideology from being promoted in government schools. Their plans for that seem to be thwarted by recent political developments, thus there should be little to concern us in that regard for the immediate future.

Conclusion:

So that’s how we see the coming year. It’ll be like the last year, which was like the year before. People come and go, code words are altered, tactics evolve, but the game never really changes.

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

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Jack Chick’s Creepiest Comic Ever

"Uninvited" by Jack Chick

How can your Curmudgeon fulfill his obligation to entertain you on this festive weekend? No problem. We turn to good old Jack Chick, purveyor extraordinaire of primitive young-earth creationism. He just keeps cranking out new comics for us, and today he’s done it again.

You already know about Jack Chick, because we’ve previously posted about his Creationist Comic Books. If you haven’t yet seen them, you really should. That’s where at least 25% of the American population get their science education.

At Chick’s colossally stupid website we found something that is certain to give his followers the spiritual nourishment they require. His newest comic book, which you can read online, is Uninvited. It is, as the title of our post suggests, perhaps the sickest, creepiest, and most deranged of all Chick’s works — but there’s a lot of competition for that honor.

Anyway, this one nicely illustrates what goes on in the minds of creationists. It’s about sin, devils, sodomy, AIDS, and divine justice for some pain-ridden, dying old men. The heroine who tells them The Truth is a self-righteous nurse on a mission. In her words:

If Jesus hadn’t saved me and cast out that devil with its nasty thoughts, I could have become a lesbian — or worse — and dying from AIDS just like you are now.

The saving virtue — so to speak — that connects this garbage to our blog is the creationist reference to Noah’s Flood. In that way this wretched comic is relevant to The Controversy between evolution and creationism. In Chick’s words from the panel which adorns this post:

At the time of Noah, around 2400 BC, mankind was totally depraved. Satan’s spirits had turned them into a violent, sex-crazed mob who cursed God.

So click over to Chick and read about how a few sick old guys will be spending their last days on earth. And then, if you can, ponder what goes on in the minds of creationists. This is how they think; it gives them a warm and cozy feeling. Now you know.

When you’re done, try to put it all aside and enjoy the holiday weekend.

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

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“Darwin’s Dilemma” Case: Discoveroid Privacy

There is an interesting development in what we’ve been calling the Darwin’s Dilemma Exhibition Case. The actual case name is American Freedom Alliance v. California Science Center, California Science Center Foundation, Jeffrey Rudolph, et al. It’s sometimes abbreviated AFA v. CSC.

Our last update was six weeks ago — “Darwin’s Dilemma” Case: Sudden Turnabout. The next few indented paragraphs provide background information, which most of you can skip:

A lawsuit filed by the American Freedom Alliance (AFA) charges that the California Science Center (CSC or “Science Center”) violated both the First Amendment and a contract to rent its theater when it canceled a screening of Darwin’s Dilemma. The AFA is an outfit promoting “the controversy” about evolution — in the interest of what they call “academic freedom.” The film they wanted to show includes appearances by Richard von Sternberg, Jonathan Wells, and Stephen Meyer, all “senior fellows” with the Discovery Institute (the “Discoveroids”), claiming that the Cambrian “explosion” is evidence of intelligent design.

The theater owner getting sued is the California Science Center, along with the two other defendants: the Science Center Foundation (the actual party to the contract for showing the film), and Jeffrey Rudolph, who is president of both the Science Center and the Foundation. The Foundation canceled its contract with the AFA, alleging that a Discoveroid press release (which the Science Center hadn’t approved) violated a contract clause requiring their prior approval of all promotional materials. Technically, although two Discoveroid “senior fellows” were scheduled to conduct a discussion session after the showing of the film, the Discovery Institute wasn’t a party to the exhibition agreement.

Thus there’s an issue as to whether the unauthorized publicity sent out by the Discovery Institute gave the Science Center (and the Foundation) grounds to cancel the contract. It’s also an issue whether the Discovery Institute was working so closely with the AFA (the plaintiff) that their unauthorized publicity notices were issued with the AFA’s knowledge and tacit consent, breaching the contract.

The AFA alleges that the contract violation was a “false pretext” for cancellation of the exhibition contract. It’s really discrimination and a violation of the First Amendment, thus a violation of the AFA’s constitutional rights. The Science Center thinks this is a contract case; the AFA is treating it as a civil rights case.

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) has many of the court pleadings available online. See: American Freedom Alliance v. California Science Center et al.

Thanks to the NCSE archive, we can see that three new pleadings have been filed since our last update. The Science Center Foundation’s cross-complaint we last posted about has been amended, but we didn’t notice anything in it that caught our attention. Then the parties filed a Joint Motion for taking videotape depositions of Discoveroids John West, Robert Crowther, and Casey Luskin. Presumably, they have the most knowledge of the alleged cooperation between the AFA and the Discoveroids in issuing the unauthorized press releases.

The motion mentioned that there were some details to be worked out because the litigation is in California and the depositions will be taken in Washington, presumably in Seattle. Also, the Discoveroids had “concerns that such video may be given to and misued by opponents of Discovery Institute’s work outside this litigation.” They wanted a protective order to safeguard their privacy.

That motion was signed on 10 December. At the same time they signed and filed a Proposed Order to which the parties had stipulated, with a space at the end for the judge’s signature so it can become the order of the court. It looks like the judge signed it on 21 December, so this document describes how the video depositions will be taken and how the videos will be handled thereafter.

It’s fascinating to see the exquisite care the Discoveroids are taking to protect these videotapes from falling into the “wrong” hands. It’s also interesting that the Science Center has gone along with these procedures — but it’s probably what they had to accept in order to get the depositions videotaped.

Except for use by the parties in the litigation, no copies can be made. The videos can’t be posted on the internet. If portions of the videos are used at trial — which is commonly done to contradict a witnesses’ trial testimony with what he said previously — those portions must be sealed from public disclosure. When the case is over, all copies of the videos must be destroyed — except that the Discoveroids will be able to keep their own copies and they can use them as they wish.

We can’t help but wonder if they’re planning to quote-mine those videos, but we’ll have to wait to see what happens. Written transcripts of those depositions aren’t affected by this order, so we assume they’ll be made available. That’s probably sufficient for our purposes; however, there’s no substitute for actually seeing the video of a witness squirming, whining, and soiling his pants. But then, who would be cruel enough to post something like that on his blog?

This case is just getting started and it’s going to get interesting. When there’s more news, we’ll let you know.

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

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Creationist Bumper Stickers from WorldNetDaily

WND Bumper Sticker

You know about WorldNetDaily (WND), the flamingly creationist journalistic organ that believes in and enthusiastically promotes every conspiracy theory that ever existed. WND is an absolutely execrable, moronic, and incurably crazed publication, an instrument of idiocy, a wretched rag, a deep pool of theocratic throw-up, a sinkhole of stupid, a fountain of feculence, and most importantly, an early winner of your Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award.

Like most creationist outfits, WND has an online store that sells books, tapes, and other items. Hey, this is your chance to get that Sarah Palin bobblehead doll you’ve always wanted.

But the item that is certain to appeal to you, dear reader, is their Don’t tell Darwin….Science has evolved Magnetic Bumper Sticker. Here are some excerpts from their product description, with bold added by us:

Tired of keeping quiet? Well express yourself with a little bit of humor using this bumper sticker.

Yes, don’t hold back. Go ahead and slap one of these on your car. Show the world how clever you are. Here’s more:

Make a bold statement this year — and every year. This magnetic, permanent yet removable bumper sticker measures 15 by 3-3/4 inches. It’s perfect not only for your car, but for your refrigerator, file cabinet – any magnetic surface where you would like to make a statement.

Go for it, dear reader. Buy a bunch. Put ‘em on your car, nail ‘em to your wall, display one on your desk, stick one to the headboard of your bed, greet visitors appropriately by attaching one to your front door. Put them everywhere!

You gotta admit it — you just can’t find this stuff on your own. Where would you be without your Curmudgeon?

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

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