Discoveroids’ Advice to Presidential Candidates

Guess who is offering advice to the 2012 GOP Presidential candidates. Give up? It’s 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 first thing you should know about this is that at the Discoveroid blog there’s a post by Bruce Chapman, whom we affectionately call “Chappy.” He’s the founder and president of the Discovery Institute. Chappy’s position makes him Lord High Keeper of the Discoveroids’ Wedge strategy, and the ultimate leader of all Discoveroids.

Chappy’s article is Evolution as a Political Speed Trap. It’s only a few sentences and then a link to an article in the American Spectator that was written by Discoveroid “senior fellows” (i.e., full-blown creationists), Jay Richards and David Klinghoffer. We’ll spend some time with their article today because we’re told by Chappy that it’s very important.

Okay, Chappy has sent us to Answering the Dreaded ‘Evolution’ Question in the American Spectator. We don’t know much about that publication, but because they publish Discoveroid authors, we assign them to the same category as journals that publish lurid but “true” tales about UFO abductions.

Now you know who supports this article and where it’s published. If you need background on the two Discoveroid authors, you can go here for information on Klinghoffer. As for Richards, he’s the Discoveroids’ “research director” — whatever that means. This is his Discoveroid biography. Wikipedia’s entry on Jay Richards says that he once had some kind of faculty status at Biola University, a California bible college. Richards was a co-author, along with Expelled! star Guillermo Gonzalez, of a classic creationist book, The Privileged Planet, a “fine tuning” argument applied to Earth.

Everybody ready? Fine, let’s get into the article, which is Discoveroid dogma endorsed by Chappy himself. We’ll give you some excerpts, with bold font added by us. It starts with this:

It’s a question every presidential candidate must dread, one that promises to come up repeatedly as the political season advances: “Do you believe in evolution?”

That’s an insane opening paragraph. To begin with, evolution is not a matter of “belief.” What would you say, dear reader, if you were asked you if you believe in gravity? You would look at the questioner as if he were an idiot. Gravity is not a matter of belief. Neither is evolution — it’s a fact, and the theory of evolution explains it.

Why would a candidate “dread” the question? All the candidate needs to do is respond: “Evolution is good science. Next question please!” You see, dear reader, the “dreaded evolution question” is no problem for a sane candidate. Let’s read on:

Evolution is the speed trap of presidential campaigns. Though a president doesn’t have much influence over state and local science education policy, reporters lie in wait for the unwary candidate, ready to pounce with a question he’s poorly prepared to answer yet that is important to millions of voters. Fortunately, there’s a reply that not only avoids the trap but helps advance public understanding.

This is maddeningly stupid, but we need to read this in order to recognize Discoveroid propaganda when a candidate spouts it. We continue:

Rep. Michele Bachmann is the latest to get pulled to the side of the road, lights flashing in her rear-view mirror. Talking with reporters in New Orleans following last week’s Republican Leadership Conference, she said “I support intelligent design,” referring to the theory that nature gives scientific evidence of purpose and design.

She continued: “What I support is putting all science on the table and then letting students decide. I don’t think it’s a good idea for government to come down on one side of a scientific issue or another, when there is reasonable doubt on both sides.”

Yes, she said that, once again confirming that she’s an ignoramus — or perhaps worse. We posted about that a week ago: Michele Bachmann in New Orleans: Insanity! Here’s more:

Government neutrality would be welcome, as Bachmann rightly notes. But unfortunately the candidate’s statement generated headlines … that made her sound like she was ready to go a lot further than the intelligent design (ID) movement, which merely advocates that Darwinian theory’s weaknesses be taught along with its strengths. Allowing teachers to discuss ID in class would be much more appropriate and advisable than requiring them to do so.

Those Discoveroids are ever-so-reasonable — they just want evolution’s “weaknesses” taught. You know what those are: Evolution is a bunch of godless, materialistic Darwinist, Hitlerian lies that ignore the infinite greatness of the magical designer. That’s all they want to be added to science texts. Similarly, flat-earthers don’t want anything more than teaching not only the supposed strengths but also the often suppressed weaknesses of the Diabolical Sphere Theory. Let the children decide!

Moving along with the Discoveroid article:

In the Republican debate last month in South Carolina, Juan Williams asked Tim Pawlenty, “Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution, as the basis for what should be taught in our nation’s schools?”

That’s a fair question, but at this point it’s unnecessary. See: Tim Pawlenty: Full-Blown Creationist. Here’s what the Discoveroids say about the question that was put to Pawlenty:

Creationism usually refers to the belief that God created the universe in six, twenty-four hour days just a few thousand years ago — often called young earth creationism. Governor Pawlenty answered by confusing the term with intelligent design: [Pawlenty’s babbling response omitted].

We’ve seen this before. It’s bedrock Discoveroid doctrine. They try to escape being labeled creationists by redefining “creationism.” In Disco-speak, a degenerate dialect of Newspeak, “creationist” applies only to six-day young-earth creationists. No one else uses the Discoveroids’ definition, which is so stupid that not even William Jennings Bryan would be a creationist according to their definition.

This is the Discoveroids’ advice to Pawlenty so he can try to hide his mental disorder in future interviews:

In not challenging Williams’s use of the scare word “creationism,” Pawlenty seemed to accept the media’s misleading equation of young earth creationism with intelligent design, a much more modest and defensible claim.

Hey, that’s great advice! By edging away from that six-day creation stuff and identifying himself with the Discoveroids’ peculiar “theory,” no one will ever suspect that Pawlenty is a creationist. Good plan! It’s like saying: “No, I’m not crazy. Crazy people think they’re talking to Martians. I’m in contact with Uranus!”

What other advice do the Discoveroids have? How about this:

At another recent press conference, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, dream candidate for many conservatives, fielded a question about whether he believes in evolution. He responded indignantly — “That’s none of your business!” — as if someone had inquired about his intimate relations with Mrs. Christie.

We thought it was a goofy response too. See Chris Christie Ducks Creationism Question Again, and also New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: Creationist? — in which we said:

If a candidate isn’t a creationist, then he should say so! We don’t like it when candidates play games with us. If a candidate conceals his position and babbles all kinds of focus-group tested slogans because he’s pandering for creationist votes, then he has a flawed character. Such people are unfit for high office (or any office).

What do the Discoveroids say? They too thought he flubbed it. Here’s their advice:

It falls, in general, to a candidate’s staff to prepare him to answer any question so that he neither embarrasses himself nor needlessly alienates any constituency. Yet evolution lies outside the expertise of most political professionals, including those behind the scenes. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to answer that takes account of the dilemma. Asked about evolution, here’s what Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, or Chris Christie could have said:

Here it comes — the Discoveroids’ official advice on how a creationist candidate can try to slime out of being seen as a creationist when the press asks the “dreaded” evolution question. This is what they think Bachmann, Pawlenty, and Christie should have said:

“Life has a very long history and things change over time. However, I don’t think living creatures are nothing but the product of a purposeless Darwinian process. I support teaching all about evolution, including the scientific evidence offered against it.”

Oh yeah — that’ll work just fine! No one would ever dream that such a wucked-up answer is closeted creationism. Brilliant job, Discoveroids.

At the end, the Discoveroid authors are so pleased with themselves that they praise their own advice:

Such a formulation, true to the scientific evidence and to the Constitution, would also be devilishly hard for rival candidates to disagree with. Campaign staff and advisors would do well to commit something like it to memory.

Well, there you are, dear reader — political advice from Discoveroids Jay Richards and David Klinghoffer about how creationist candidates can lie about being creationists. It’s strikingly similar to their litigation posture, in which they claim their own weird brand of creationism has no First Amendment problems because it’s really a scientific “theory.” That hasn’t succeeded in court, but maybe — just maybe — it could succeed in a political campaign.

[See also: Discovery Institute’s Advice to Republicans.]

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

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23 responses to “Discoveroids’ Advice to Presidential Candidates

  1. Do they mention any of the Democratic candidates? When they say that every candidate fears the question, do they restrict that to Republicans? As a tax-exempt organization, don’t they have to be careful not to be partisan?

  2. The thing that makes it impossible for the creationists to get ID taught in public schools is that if it’s required, it will be stopped, and if it’s “only” allowed, no self-respecting science teacher would ever teach it.

  3. We never hear anyone refer to teaching the “strengths and weaknesses” of ID…only evolution. It seems reasonable that any alternative to evolution discussed in a biology class be subjected to the same critical analysis as evolution itself. However, the DI never seems to promote that level of academic freedom – in fact the claim that teachers should only be allowed to discuss ID, rather than be required to, is a nice way of sidestepping any curriculum requirement that might lead subject it to the same “strengths and weaknesses” analysis as the scientific theory of evolution.

    I think schools would do well to have a class on the scientific method, and critical thinking skills in general, at around the middle school level. It would help equip kids to deal with all the crazy woo that’s out there, including bogus science like ID.

  4. Ed says:

    We never hear anyone refer to teaching the “strengths and weaknesses” of ID…only evolution.

    ID has no strengths to teach. It’s noting more than silly claims about the alleged “weaknesses” of evolution.

  5. Curmudgeon: “In Disco-speak, a degenerate dialect of Newspeak, ‘creationist’ applies only to six-day young-earth creationists. No one else uses the Discoveroids’ definition, which is so stupid that not even William Jennings Bryan would be a creationist according to their definition.”

    Unfortunately the great majority (which undertands next to nothing about evolution, creationism or the ID strategy) defines it much closer to the Disco definition than to our definition. And that allows the DI to pull the bait-and-switch. That majority may think “a relatively abrupt independent origin of ‘kinds’ a long time ago,” which would include the beliefs of Bryan, but they would not include Behe’s “front loading,” or “saltation”. Yet ID – which we include in “creationism” – fully accommodates them.

    Worse, most people think of “creationism” as an honest belief, whereas critics define it – by their criticism, if not using my exact words – as a strategy to promote unreasonable doubt of evolution and to encourage belief of an untestable or long-falsified design-based alternative.

    Sorry to sound like a broken record, but wha

  6. Oops again..to continue…

    …whatever term we use, we don’t have the luxury to be inconsistent. It can only help us to frame it as a strategy, not a belief.

    I recently thought of a fun question to the Discoveroids: “So are the ‘Cdesign Proponentsists’ that the ‘Pandas’ authors wrote about Creationists or Design Proponents?”

  7. comradebillyboy

    TomS writes ‘Do they mention any of the Democratic candidates? When they say that every candidate fears the question, do they restrict that to Republicans?’

    Since the religious right is an integral part of the Republican base the question is more apropos for Republicans and acceptance of creationism seems to be one more litmus test for party purity. While some Democrats are creationists, creationism and science rejection are not articles of faith in the Democratic party. They are secular humanist scum you know.

  8. I would have thought contact with Uranus would be worse than communicating with Martians…

  9. I recently thought of a fun question to the Discoveroids: “So are the ‘Cdesign Proponentsists’ that the ‘Pandas’ authors wrote about Creationists or Design Proponents?”

    Neither, it’s a transitional fossil. (And they thought those things didn’t exist. Tsk.)

  10. To: comradebillyboy
    Hey, I would rather be a Democratic, secular, humanist, scientific, scum (actually scum can be evolutionarily complex) than a holier that thou, next to the angles (in your dreams), brain dead, suck up, do anything to pull the sheep’s wool over their eyes, Republican candidate.

  11. Biokid says:

    Hey, I would rather be a Democratic, secular, humanist, scientific, scum (actually scum can be evolutionarily complex) than a holier that thou …

    Yeah, those are the “social” issues. But what about national defense, the economy, the debt, and the size of government? This is what makes politics so utterly crazy these days.

  12. …next to the angles (in your dreams)…

    To: comradebillyboy
    Hey, what kind of “angles” do you dream about? (Biokid sounds like his are on the “obtuse” side.)

  13. Ok, Ok. Angels, not angles. Hey, spell checker isn’t worth much when the misspelled word is also spelled correctly.

  14. comradebillyboy

    sorry I left the sarcasm tag off of ‘secular humanist scum’

  15. comradebillyboy: “While some Democrats are creationists, creationism and science rejection are not articles of faith in the Democratic party. They are secular humanist scum you know.”

    “SHS” who brag about being Christians (and an occasional Jew) as much as Republicans do. A few years ago I did a quick survey of articles in RNCSE and found that ~20% of politicians (mostly state and local) who peddled anti-evolution legislation were Democrats. So I have to wonder how many of them pretend to support science because they could risk pro-science votes, and never had the fundamentalist vote to begin with.

    A quote from biologist Paul Gross, a conservative last time I checked, is a stern warning to politicians of either party: “Everybody who has undertaken in the last 300 years to stand against the growth of scientific knowledge has lost.”

  16. wolfwalker

    FrankJ: “~20% of politicians (mostly state and local) who peddled anti-evolution legislation were Democrats.”

    Just curious: which states were these politicians in? There are places where the ‘Democrats’ are actually further right than many Republicans, at least on social and religious issues.

    Curmudgeon: “We don’t know much about that publication [the American Spectator]…”

    It’s a well-known conservative political magazine, somewhat farther right than National Review or the Weekly Standard. I’ve seen reasonable-sounding stuff on its site; I’ve also seen pure dreck there. I wouldn’t call it the equal of the Worldnutdaily or the Washington Times, but I wouldn’t call it a trustworthy source, either.

  17. comradebillyboy

    Frank J, you make a good point regarding the share of democratic party evolution deniers. Since a very large slice of the US population holds creationist friendly views, one would expect a fair number of dems to be creationists. My point is that it is the R party that has made creationism and religious devotion litmus tests for their party candidate. This is what creates anguish for the secular and scientifically oriented conservatives like The Curmudgeon. One cannot expect theocrats to uphold and further the values of the Enlightenment.

  18. @ wolfwalker:

    I’ll have to dig out my old RNCSEs, but I would guess mostly in the south and midwest. But I recall Gore waffling on it in 1999, when Kansas was in the news. And Ted Kennedy initially supported the Santorum Amendment before expressing disagreement with the ID strategy. Conversely, in one editorial Santorum hinted that he might not agree with ID itself, but defended the right to teach it in taxpayer-funded science class.

    @ Ed

    Not only do we hear them demand teaching weaknesses of ID, it’s even more ironic that we never hear those IDers who insist that ID is not “creationism” demand teaching the weaknesses of “creationism.” Their excuse might be that “creationism” is a religious idea. But they know darn well that that is not a valid excuse, because “creationism” (as IDers define it) makes testable claims (e.g. “all life originated suddenly a few 1000 years ago,” “humans and chimps originated from 2 independent oringn-of-life events”) that can be made and critically analyzed with no reference to God or Genesis. And they know that such claims have weaknesses that dwarf the ones they pretend that evolution has. Which is why they would never dare demand them, and would probably dread being asked why, especially if asked by those who find their anti-evolution arguments, but not “creationism” (as IDers define it), convincing.

  19. Ed says, “I think schools would do well to have a class on the scientific method, and critical thinking skills in general, at around the middle school level.”

    They do, It’s called “Science”. And a major part of the Middle School science curriculum is the Scientific Method — at least it was in Ohio during the 27 years I was teaching Middle School science.

    The problem is, not all teachers follow the recommended, or even the required, curriculum.

  20. ““No, I’m not crazy. Crazy people think they’re talking to Martians. I’m in contact with Uranus!””

    Curmie, being in contact with Uranus would be the least of these people’s problems.
    :P

  21. LRA says:

    Curmie, [unthinkable activity] would be the least of these people’s problems.

    New pic, LRA? Looks very nice.

  22. @retiredsciguy: I know that in Rhode Island the scientific method is a major part of the curriculum in elementary, middle, and high school, with a focus on it in middle and high school. the thing is, if rational thinking isn’t being encouraged at home, it doesn’t always matter what the teachers say. All the science teachers that I’ve had have all done a very good job, but that didn’t stop a few of my classmates from ignoring scientific principles backed by the scientific method.

  23. LOL!

    And, yes, it’s a new pic. It was time for an update! Thanks for noticing. :D