Discovery Institute Has Another Documentary

We’ve lately been ignoring 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).

That’s because most of their recent blog offerings have been self-praise for their butterfly film (see Butterflies Prove Creationism). But today they’ve posted about a new creationist documentary: Darwin’s Heretic Screens at University of Alabama Birmingham. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Students and faculty at University of Alabama Birmingham were lucky to be the second audience to screen a short documentary about the intelligent design leanings of one of the most renowned biologists of the nineteenth century,

Right, they were lucky to see this documentary about a 19th century biologist. Can you guess who the “renowned biologist” was? We won’t keep you waiting:

Alfred Russel Wallace shares credit with Charles Darwin for developing the theory of evolution by natural selection. One part of Wallace’s remarkable life and career has been completely ignored: His embrace of intelligent design.

Yes, that part of his life is ignored, because Wallace squandered his reputation and his final decades by uselessly wallowing in mysticism. That is why, as we’ve written before, Discoveroids Adopt Alfred Wallace as Godfather. Poor ol’ guy — he’s credited as being Darwin’s co-discoverer of the theory of evolution, but he wasted his declining years attending seances, drifting off into supernatural speculations, and (we assume) communing with the spirit world using his Ouija board. The Discoveroids love Wallace — not for discovering evolution, but for his late-life dementia. Let’s read on:

Darwin’s Heretic is a 21-minute documentary that explores Wallace’s fascinating intellectual journey and how it sheds light on current debates.

The Discoveroids have a website for the film: Darwin’s Heretic. The program apparently also featured Michael Flannery, who enjoys the honor of being designated a Discoveroid “fellow.” As we reported here, he wrote a biography of Alfred Wallace, which was published by — brace yourself! — the Discovery Institute Press.

Then the Discoveroids describe their version of the audience reaction to the film:

More than 180 were in attendance, and the students in the crowd seemed very interested and engaged. There were a number of good, mostly honest questions from curious students who didn’t know this aspect of Wallace at all.

It’s not surprising that Wallace’s embarrassing behavior in his dotage isn’t well-known. It should have remained so, and it’s rather ghoulish of the Discoveroids to publicize it. Here’s more:

One student wanted to know how ID was science or what evidence did Wallace present in its behalf.

Smart kid. Good question: Where’s your evidence?

Flannery responded that it was in the video — certain features of life give clear evidence of purposeful design such as the cell, the human intellect, even the bird’s wing and feather might be considered in Wallace’s example irreducibly complex.

That’s the expected answer. It’s nothing more than poor old William Paley’s 1802 theological argument, the watchmaker analogy. That’s all the Discoveroids have ever had. Here’s the end:

Flannery went on to point out that this is a perfectly legitimate form of reasoning used in everyday life as well as science. The forensic sciences and anthropology, for example, utilize it extensively. It is, as Steve Meyer points out citing Peter Lipton, an “inference to the best explanation” given the available observable evidence at hand.

Ah yes, that great creation science technique — the “inference to the best explanation.” Well, what else can they do? All the evidence supports evolution, and they don’t have any evidence to refute it, so they sling the supernatural inference and claim it’s the “best.” Hey, Wallace found it persuasive — but he was stark raving mad at the time.

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

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8 responses to “Discovery Institute Has Another Documentary

  1. an “inference to the best explanation” given the available observable evidence at hand.

    What available observable evidence is there of the occurrence of design in nature, or of the existence of a designer? None. Neither has ever been witnessed or detected.

    Complex biological organisms and processes exist, but their mere existence is not evidence that they were artificially designed… much less designed by an undetectable but vastly more complex entity operating independently of the laws of nature.

    Note in their article they do not mention receiving any ID friendly questions, or even positive feedback. Students stating that they were not aware of that part of Wallace’s life is probably an honest statement, but it’s far short of saying “you’ve convinced me that ID is real science!”

  2. Smart kid. Good question: Where’s your evidence?

    I was hoping that at least one kid asked how the DI knew about Wallace by asking, “Were you there?”

  3. Rather than asking “Where’s you evidence?”, I’d ask “Where’s your explanation?”

    Pick some aspect of the world of life, and let them tell us how something about “Intelligent Design” makes it more likely that that happens, rather than something else.

    If ID is true, why is it more likely that there is a nested hierarchy (“tree of life”), rather than some other arrangement? If ID is true, why are humans more like chimps and other apes than they are like birds or octopuses?

    I’d suggest that only after we get an explanation is it worthwhile to start thinking about evidence for the explanation.

  4. A study of evolution has proved that flight is impossible: it is a scientific fact that despite the widespread availability of extension ladders, no part of the fossil record has been found in the air.

  5. “certain features of life give clear evidence of purposeful design such as the cell, the human intellect, even the bird’s wing and feather might be considered in Wallace’s example irreducibly complex.”

    These IDiots don’t know the difference between fact and opinion. Perhaps Binky can help them out?

    http://pbskids.org/arthur/games/factsopinions/

  6. The forensic sciences and anthropology, for example, utilize it extensively

    Yes, they form hypotheses about who did it, how, when, and why. Then they go out and search for evidence to confirm/reject the details. When a specifc who, what, when, why, etc… hypothesis has been confirmed, then they declare the murder solved. Not before.

    The ID version of CSI would be extremely short. Alice*: “The splatter of blood appears very complex.” Bob: “well that would be consistent with design. This person was murdered.” Alice: “Case closed, then. Let’s get some lunch.”

    *I’m making up names because I don’t watch CSI.

  7. Eric: “Yes, they form hypotheses about who did it, how, when, and why. Then they go out and search for evidence to confirm/reject the details.”

    Exactly!. Despite their protests, their method differs as much from real design detection as it does from any other science. First, real design detection starts with independent evidence of designers of the expected range of intelligence; unless ID scammers are looking for an alien of roughly similar intelligence to humans (or arguably less, if we’re outsmarting them by catching them), they have no independent evidence and they know it. Second, real design detection looks for evidence for it’s explanation, not against another explanation – or a strawman version that IDers invariably use. And follows that evidence where it leads, not where they want it to via “creative” cherry-picking. Third, as you say, real “design detectors” continue to determine what the “designer” did, when and how.

    Even YEC and OEC are closer to real science by at least making testable hypotheses of what the designer did when. ID insists that it’s not its job to do even that! The reason, of course is that ID scammers know that if they did elaborate on the whats and whens (instead of the rare admissions, usually by Behe) it would not please the YEC and OEC audiences that they are trying to fool.

  8. Criminal investigation is traditionally characterized as seeking the href=http:”//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Means,_motive,_and_opportunity”>Means, motive, and opportunity, as well as, of course, the “perpetrator” and the href=”://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corpus_delicti”>corpus delicti (the criminal act) – which correspond to how, why, when & where, who, what.