Discovery Institute & Michele Bachmann

We are seeing increasing evidence of what we discussed more than a year ago — a weird convergence of creationism and global-warming opponents. Only this time it also involves a Presidential candidate.

When we speak of global warming opponents we mean not only those who deny the evidence of climate change, but also those with a more nuanced position — they may accept that the climate is changing, but they deny so-called Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). [For the record, your Curmudgeon has never been a denier of global warming in general or even AGW. We don't know that science; it is what it is. Our skepticism is entirely political. We don't like the totalitarian politics that underlie many of the proposed solutions.]

When last we wrote about global warming it was in the context of some really bizarre propaganda coming from 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).

The Discoveroids had a strange “climategate proves creationism” argument. We thought the thing had played itself out back in 2009, along with the climategate conspiracy. While it lasted it was not only fun, it was also very revealing. Our last post about it was ClimateGate Crescendo! Back then we said:

[The Discoveroids] are now so far out of that “science closet” they’ve been hiding in that they can never go back again. It began here: Thrilled About ClimateGate, but the Discoveroids couldn’t control themselves. Matters swiftly escalated to this: The Mask Falls Away. [Hey, that post got almost 10,000 hits.] That’s where we identified the “Vindication of All Kooks” doctrine — which holds that if the legitimate views of global warming skeptics had been wrongly suppressed, then all science dissent has been similarly mistreated, and therefore the science-denial of creationism is now respectable.

The Discoveroids got so worked up over climategate that they totally uncloseted themselves and called for a “massive defunding of organized science” which they described as “organized crime,” and they even suggested “criminal prosecution of scientists.” It doesn’t get any plainer than that.

Well, lunacy never really dies, and things have continued to bubble under the surface. Now it’s coming out again — in the context of the 2012 Presidential election. We see bits and pieces of this, as the Discoveroids — and their comrades in other anti-science endeavors — all seem to be coalescing around the candidacy of Michelle Bachmann, about whom we last posted this: Michele Bachmann in New Orleans: Insanity!

You already know Bachmann is crazy. You probably also know what Bachmann thinks about global warming. Check this out, it’s only 4 minutes long:

Okay, but where’s the Discoveroid connection? It’s all in the bits and pieces we’ve been seeing, and for that reason this has been a difficult post to put together. Bear with us, here it comes:

First, most of you know about the Discoveroids’ connection to what we’ve been calling the Darwin’s Dilemma Exhibition Case. That’s a lawsuit filed by the American Freedom Alliance (AFA) which 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 film includes appearances by Richard von Sternberg, Jonathan Wells, and Stephen Meyer, all “senior fellows” with the Discovery Institute, claiming that the Cambrian “explosion” is evidence of intelligent design. See “Darwin’s Dilemma” Case: Update 29 May ’11

Recently, the Guardian wrote about another AFA crusade: Climate sceptics flirt with intelligent design and Islamophobic group, and in describing the AFA’s odd interests they mentioned their litigation against the California Science Center — linking to us in the process (someone at the Guardian likes us). So now we have another connection between the Discoveroids (via their ally, the AFA) and the global warming denial camp.

But that’s not all. The ABC Online website has this article: The environmental Nazi hunter. It’s about the well-known climate-change denialist, Lord Christopher Monckton, who appeared at a conference earlier this month in Los Angeles. The ABC article points out, as does the Guardian piece, that:

The conference was organised by the American Freedom Alliance, a think-tank which is currently involved in a long-running legal battle with a California science education centre. The AFA wanted to screen a documentary which featured scientists attacking Darwin’s theory of evolution in favour of intelligent design, but the education centre cancelled the screening.

Okay, AFA is pushing a Discoveroid-supported creationist film, and they’re also with Lord Monckton in the climate-change denial camp. Then ABC mentions this:

One of Lord Monckton’s fellow speakers at the Los Angeles conference was Wesley J. Smith, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute – a think-tank and major promoter of the theory of intelligent design. One of the Discovery Institute’s projects aims to support research “developing the scientific theory known as intelligent design” (Lord Monckton even shared transport with Mr Smith during the conference).

Monckton and the Discoveroids! Isn’t that sweet? But that’s not all. Today at the Discoveroids’ blog they’ve posted this: Steven Novella on Michelle Bachmann and Teaching Evolution. It’s a bunch of creationist apologetics defending Bachmann’s embrace of intelligent design. The details don’t interest us, but near the end they wrap it up with this:

Rep. Bachmann is no scientist, but she clearly has a healthy respect for academic freedom and understands that the essence of real science is honest debate.

Okay, we’ve given you the bits and pieces. Here’s what we’re seeing: The Discoveroids are creationists (no surprise there) and they’ve enthusiastically leaped on the climategate issue to vindicate their anti-science worldview (again, no surprise). Now they’re hanging out with Christopher Monckton. One of their allies, AFA, is not only creationist but also opposes climate-change science. And now the Discoveroids have come out in favor of Michelle Bachmann — perhaps the most openly anti-science Presidential candidate since William Jennings Bryan. She could be even worse than Bryan.

Here’s how it looks to us: All the anti-science, anti Enlightenment, theocratic elements are gathering and assembling themselves into some kind of crazy conga line, and they’ve chosen Bachmann to be their leader — or at least their figurehead. She could be replaced if Texas Governor Rick Perry jumps into the race, but for the moment it’s Bachmann. They’ve chosen well.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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29 responses to “Discovery Institute & Michele Bachmann

  1. ABC News: “One of Lord Monckton’s fellow speakers at the Los Angeles conference was Wesley J. Smith, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute – a think-tank and major promoter of the theory of intelligent design.”

    Two problems here — calling the Discovery Institute a “think-tank” is an oxymoron, as is calling intelligent design a “theory”.

    I can excuse the first, but a major news outlet such as ABC should know enough not to call intelligent design a theory. Hell, it’s not even a “Half-Baked Idea (HBI)”, let alone a hypothesis.

  2. The Discoveroids got so worked up over climategate that they totally uncloseted themselves and called for a “massive defunding of organized science” which they described as “organized crime,” and they even suggested “criminal prosecution of scientists.” It doesn’t get any plainer than that…

    Scary. We all know what this breed of personality type is capable of when they’re in power. Can witchsmellers be far behind? Scientists, start hiding your petri dishes and pocket protectors!

  3. Whoa. I just watched the video. I’m going to stop worrying about Louisiana and start worrying about Minnesota – represented by Michelle Bachmann AND Al Franken? They’re in BIG trouble! Maybe those two loudmouth bullies will cancel each other out, like matter and antimatter. That’s the only hope I can see for poor Minnesota…

  4. The problem with Michelle Bachmann is that many of the people who vote in Republican primaries know as little as she does about science, so as crazy as she appears on these issues to the rest of us, her opinions will seem like common sense to her supporters.

    I think her problem as a candidate is that she only has her, usually relatively extreme, fixed position on issues. A successful candidate will need to come across as being able to work with others, such as the congress, and she appears manifestly unable to do that.

  5. longshadow

    There’s a strong wiff of “guilt by association” in this piece, and I’d advise caution in drawing too many conclusions.

    There are kooks on both sides of the AGW debate, and thoughtful people on both sides. Not all AGW skeptics are Creationoid lunatics, even if most Creationoid lunatics are AGW skeptics.

    Basically, the Creationoids will pervert ANYTHING they can to advance their PR cause. So it is with AGW skepticism — which in no way directly supports Creationism, but which indirectly provides the Discoveroids cover to challenge the accepted science that contradicts THEIR beliefs.

    The problem with guilt by association is it makes for strange bedfellows: Bachmann is an idiot; Bachmann is a Creationist; Bachmann supports smaller government, ergo everyone who supports smaller government is a Creationoid idiot. The logic is flawed, as there are no shortage of us, who want smaller, less intrusive, less expensive government and who are NEITHER idiots, nor Creationists.

  6. Longie says:

    There’s a strong wiff of “guilt by association” in this piece, and I’d advise caution in drawing too many conclusions.

    Quite so. But it’s true that anti-science kooks have a common bond, notwithstanding that each group (creationists, astrologers, climate-change deniers, moon-landing deniers) may be focused on its own enemy in the sciences. If they can unite in a common cause, it serves them all, even if they have little else in common and wouldn’t normally cooperate.

    It’s disappointing that a fiscal conservative, small government advocate should be a pawn in such a game. In Bachmann’s case it’s only because she’s essentially an all-round idiot — but one who has a few positions just happen to agree with mine. Nevertheless, by identifying her as an anti-science idiot, we can understand that the rest of her positions are also mindlessly held — but she gives good talking points. Don’t be misled by some familiar-sounding phrases. She’s not your friend. There’s really no functioning brain there.

  7. @longshadow:

    …there are no shortage of us, who want smaller, less intrusive, less expensive government and who are NEITHER idiots, nor Creationists.

    That would include me, but I don’t know what pre-existing label applies. My friends, who are either 100% Left or 100% Right, have suggested “Freak of Nature”, (or sometimes “Referee”). Those don’t seem right, (and it’s too late for me to get new friends). What, if any, political affiliation do you consider yourself to belong to, longshadow? Do you mind my asking?

  8. longshadow

    Don’t be misled by some familiar-sounding phrases. She’s not your friend. There’s really no functioning brain there.

    Oh, I came to that conclusion long ago, and one doesn’t need to know her position on either Creationism or AGW to know that.

    My point is just because Bachmann is an idiot and believes in Creationism and is a AGW skeptic doesn’t mean all AGW skeptics are idiots like Bachmann. One can be skeptical about the AGW predictions of dire global conflagration on reasonable scientific grounds. Linzden’s latest paper raises serious questions about the true value of the climate sensitivity, and whether the feedbacks are even positive, as the IPCC models all assume them to be, and strongly so.

    That’s not a denial that rising CO2 should cause some warming — which it should — but it does question the severity of the change in temperature that we should expect to see, and suggests the possibility that draconian economic policies are unneeded to deal with the effects of rising CO2 levels.

  9. The Discoveroids are only incidentally creationists. They are first and foremost “anti-materialists.” When I was a kid being “materialistic” meant I coveted “stuff”, things over relationships; it’s not the thought that counts it’s the GIFT! Gimmie more!

    However, the DI’s definition of “materialist” means a person who believes that the material world is all there is in the Universe. We call those people “rational.” The DI’s stated goal is to overturn the materialistic world view and replace it with one that is consistent with Christianity (the DI’s personal Christianity, that is, which is more along the lines of the We Say So variety.)

    Thus, anybody of any stripe or persuasion who is a contrarian or anti-science is DI-friendly. When the Pope shows some anti-science behavior it’s Yea, Pope! Otherwise, it’s Boo, Pope! Notice that the fickle DI can be both for and against the same person, place or thing.

    As for Bachman, she’s neither for nor against “academic freedom” because she has no concept of what the phrase means. It’s just a sound bite in her current ideology just like “teach the controversy” and “let the students decide.” She hasn’t thought about these things, doesn’t want to, doesn’t have to. All she has to do is say the words and hope she gets a few votes out of it. And the good old DI will be for her, until they’re against her, which could be tomorrow.

  10. longshadow

    That would include me, but I don’t know what pre-existing label applies. My friends, who are either 100% Left or 100% Right, have suggested “Freak of Nature”, (or sometimes “Referee”). Those don’t seem right, (and it’s too late for me to get new friends). What, if any, political affiliation do you consider yourself to belong to, longshadow? Do you mind my asking?

    The short answer is what I call “pragmatic libertarian”: free minds, free markets, keep the government out of the boardroom and the bedroom.

    I want government to be as small and as unintrusive as possible, but I don’t expect to privatize all public roads the moment a libertarian majority is elected.

  11. The Discoveroids are only incidentally creationists. They are first and foremost “anti-materialists.”

    LIke all extremists, they invent their own language. Or, like Humpty Dumpty in “Through the Looking Glass”, English words mean what they want them to mean. They use the word “secularist” disparagingly, as if it meant something dirty. And, of course, there’s no such thing as “Darwinist”. And if there was, it shouldn’t be pejorative.

  12. comradebillyboy

    longshadow writes:
    ‘There are kooks on both sides of the AGW debate, and thoughtful people on both sides. Not all AGW skeptics are Creationoid lunatics, even if most Creationoid lunatics are AGW skeptics.’

    None the less if a republican presidential candidate does not deny evolution and climate change and most of modern cosmology he/she pretty much loses the ‘religious right’ which has big time influence in that party. The only politicians who I ever see attack secularism are republicans. The only presidential candidates who are not creationists and climate deniers are the two Mormons. What conclusions do you suggest we draw?

  13. Speaking of inventing their own language, my favorite example is the name “Discovery Institute”. The motivation for that title is exactly the same as the motivation of totalitarian regimes to name their country some variation of “People’s Democratic Republic of _______”. The DI is about “Discovery” to the same extent as the Peoples Democratic Republic of Korea is “Democratic”.

  14. Yeah, it should be the Chicanery Institute.

  15. carlsonjok

    Dude? Are you ready for your mind to be blown?

    Michele Bachmann has a political action committee named, originally enough, MICHELEPAC. The treasurer of MICHELEPAC is one Barry Arrington.

    Name sound familiar? It should, because Arrington is also the blog owner of, and contributor to, Uncommon Descent, the pre-eminent (for sufficiently small values of eminence) resource on the internet for information on Intelligent Design. They are all just cozy little anti-science peas in a pod.

  16. carlsonjok says: “Are you ready for your mind to be blown?”

    We’ve come across Arrington before. He ran for the school board in Colorado last year: Colorado Creationism: The Battle Begins. I don’t know what happened in that race.

  17. Barry A, aka, bornagain77 aka ba77 aka batsh*tcrazy77 is a well-known denizen of Uncommon Descent into Madness and a foaming at the mouth, creationist loony. Perfect for Bachmann. Live long and prosper, BA77!

  18. Like evolution leading to speciation over time, anthropomorphic global warming leading to climate change is difficult for many to appreciate. The safe route is to pretend to accept the scientific consensus while keeping the door open to scepticism… to merely look fair and impartial. But like evolution, AGW is a fact and we’re not allowed to make up our facts. What is also without question is that AGW is the main driver in increasing the rate and frequency of weather extremes and shifting climate patterns. To pretend that the overwhelming evidence behind the scientific consensus for either is still open to scepticism is the same thing as denying reality… something politicians of every stripe seem far too able to do without any additional help from us.

  19. tildeb says:

    But like evolution, AGW is a fact and we’re not allowed to make up our facts.

    I guess my next car will be a GM Volt.

  20. My next car will probably be a canoe.

  21. magpie61: “Maybe those two loudmouth bullies will cancel each other out, like matter and antimatter.”

    If anything, these people reinforce each other. They have replaced the relatively healthy debates of past decades, with liberal Republicans, conservative Democrats and centrists balancing the extremists. The anti-science authoritarians who demand that Johnny get credit for wrong answers on tests, and that teachers be free to teach long-discredited ideas and misrepresent the ones that have earned the right to be taught are pushing us into a “nanny state” just as hard as the extremists on the other side.

  22. carlsonjok

    Doc Bill, Barry and BA77 are not the same person. I think BA77 name is actually Phillip.

  23. The Monckton/Smith connection is tentative at best. The conference mentioned was the Big Footprint Conference, an anti-greens collective. Smith’s connection to the conference falls under the heading “Assault on Human Exceptionalism,” where the greens are viewed as de-valuing humans by their animal rights stances. The DI has re-named their Bio-Ethics division to Human Exceptionalism, a (somewhat) separate entity from the Center for Science and Culture. Smith is pretty much a one-man show for this DI division, unlike the CSC.

    Note that the DI’s Cascadia project is arguably a pro-green group, with its emphasis on “sustainable growth” and “[reducing] reliance on foreign oil, including the earliest possible development and integration of flex-fuel, plug-in, hybrid-electric vehicles.”

    By habit, we tend to view the CSC as constituting the DI in general. But the DI reality is that of a group of projects, sometimes apparently at esoteric odds with one another.

  24. Rubble says:

    By habit, we tend to view the CSC as constituting the DI in general. But the DI reality is that of a group of projects, sometimes apparently at esoteric odds with one another.

    Yes, they do things other than promote creationism, but as I’ve shown in my posts about their tax returns, creationism is roughly half of their entire budget. It’s fair to regard them as primarily a creationism shop with a sprinkling of other projects.

  25. SC says:

    It’s fair to regard them as primarily a creationism shop with a sprinkling of other projects.

    And Smith’s project is one of the sprinkles. It’s not the major DI player.

  26. Rubble says:

    And Smith’s project is one of the sprinkles. It’s not the major DI player.

    Yeah, well, it’s a lot tighter fit than their Darwin-Hitler connection, so I’m staying with it.

  27. Did any one notice that Bachman is almost two orders of magnitude off. The atmosphere currently has about 0.0388% carbon dioxide not 3%. Harmless? She should put her head in a bag with 10% carbon dioxide. You start feeling it at about 1-2%, and at 2% the submarines I served on would start emergency procedures to bring it down!

  28. @Rocket Mike….head in a bag….now, there’s a thought.

  29. It is hard to imagine, but the real issue here is neither science nor religion. Wrapped up in the whole thing is politicians and others who want power pandering to religious fundamentalists, pushing their hot buttons to get support. “Vote for me. I’ll take your civil rights, but I’m against abortion.” Or, ” . . . I’m against evolution,” “I am for prayer in schools,” and so on. They deny climate change not because they know the science, but because of the short term economic costs involved (when the long term costs may be much greater . . . but the next generation can pay them . . . we’ll be gone by then). They convince the fundamentalists that they (those in power . . . corporate or political) are fundamentalists also, and tell the fundamentalists that global warming is a satanic plot. The fundamentalists believe them. And vote for them.
    Check out a website called “Resisting the Green Dragon.”