Discovery Institute’s New Form of Proof

The Discoveroids have no science to criticize, so the only real challenge they present is analyzing their errors in logic and their absurd rhetorical gyrations. We’ve previously discussed some of their techniques. For example:

• They argue that criticism of their nonsense demonstrates that the scientific community is “intolerant of dissent” — see Discovery Institute: Full Frontal Stupidity.

• They practice the time-tested political tactic of “Admit nothing, deny everything, and make counter-accusations.” See Discovery Institute — Deny, Deny, Deny!

• When someone criticizes them with devastating accuracy, they attack and spin. See Discovery Institute — Here’s How They Handle Failure.

• They reject sane, fact-based criticism as “misrepresentations, scare tactics, and the demonization of those who support honest discussion of scientific controversies.” See Discovery Institute — Freedom is Slavery (and other Big Brother-isms).

• They respond to solid criticism by ignoring the main points and pounding on one misconstrued trivial issue, as if blasting away at minutiae actually refuted what was really being said. See Discovery Institute — Blithering Pettifoggery.

• When they have no rational response at all, they rant about how outraged they are. See Discovery Institute: Pounding the Table.

• They invent their own terminology to describe their opponents (science advocates are “pro-Darwin lobbyists,” rejection of supernaturalism is a “dogmatic view,” etc.) which we call Their Own Version of Newspeak.

• While making the most outrageous slanders about Darwin and his theory (claiming it inspired Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc.) they claim that “Darwinists Are Uncivil!”

• And when something undeniably embarrassing happens, they say “You Caught Us. So What?”

We’ve also described some of their other tactics, including those common to all creationists, such as quote-mining, but we’ve listed enough to give you the general idea. What all this leads up to is our encounter with yet another tactic. Yes, the Discoveroids seem to be developing a new propaganda technique. It’s found in a few recent Discoveroid posts which we’ll briefly mention. The tactic consists of their saying something — usually some goofball creationist claim, and when it doesn’t get any attention they declare: “You’re afraid to debate me, so I win!”

We’ve seen a few examples of this recently, all related to their promotion and defense of Stephen Meyer’s book, Darwin’s Doubt. Notwithstanding their frantic efforts to praise the thing, it’s made no splash in the academic or scientific world; but it has attracted several unflattering reviews. The new tactic shows up in how the Discoveroids handle those negative reviews.

We recently posted about one by John Farrell which appeared in National Review. Casey’s response ignored most of Farrell’s substantive comments, and focused mostly on defending a “quote” in Meyer’s book which, by means of an ellipsis, joined two statements together that were actually separated by 15 pages. See Discoveroids: Outgunned & Outsmarted.

Farrell apparently thought so little of Casey’s response that all he did in reaction was post a brief Tweet. Casey has just posted at the Discoveroids’ blog to complain about that: John Farrell Tweets His Reply, in which Casey says:

John Farrell is calling me names and not addressing my arguments. I must’ve done something right.

See what we mean? If something a Discoveroid writes isn’t taken seriously, that’s declared to be “proof” that the Discoveroid is right!

Here’s another recent example by Klinghoffer: More Evidence of Darwinian Short-Term Memory Loss. He lists some serious and powerful criticisms of Meyer’s book, and then he links to some silly and ineffective posts made by Discoveroids which attempt to respond to those criticisms. After that he declares:

These guys [Meyer's critics] are all big talk. They want to give the impression that their pals have decisively confuted Stephen Meyer, but when you show them they’re wrong, they can’t process the information, or maybe they process it and then immediately forget they’ve done so. They do not so much as admit that a reply has been offered. This is their idea of debate.

Debate? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! What is there to debate? The critics have pointed out some of the innumerable problems with Meyer’s book, and despite subsequent responses by the Discoveroids — which often employ the tactics described at the start of this post — there’s nothing more for the critics to say. They’ve already said it, and nothing of substance has been offered in response. So Klinghoffer declares that because the Discoveroids have had the last word, Meyer’s critics have been defeated. Amazing!

Astronomers long ago stopped debating with astrologers. No one debates with flat-Earthers or moon-landing deniers. And scientists are finally learning that there is nothing to be accomplished by debating with creationists either. The astrologers, flat-Earthers and the others seem to have accepted their status as isolated cultists. But not the Discoveroids. They still think they’re going somewhere.

Despite the fact that the Discoveroids have no evidence and no theory that challenges evolution (or any other science), they demand endless debates over their empty and valueless rubbish. And when no one pays any attention to them, they declare victory. It’s quite sad, really. But it probably impresses their generous patrons, who keep the cash flowing.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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13 responses to “Discovery Institute’s New Form of Proof

  1. Take heart, Curmy. The tactic of appropriating “victory” by fiat is one born of desperation, as is their pathetic resort to tu quoque where they merely paraphrase and then level at their detractors the very same accusations first levelled at them. Your penultimate paragraph summarises the Discorrhoids’ predicament very nicely. You just can’t reason with fanaticism. Now they’re just making a noise for the sake of reducing their essential insecurity, namely that history will consign them to mildly ignominious obscurity.

  2. True to their avowed Wedge Strategy to “replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God”, the Discoveroids are already living in their longed-for pre-Enlightenment world: in place of science, they practise Scholasticism.

    They really do want to drag us back to at least the 12th century, when human knowledge was ‘advanced’ by debates between medieval schoolmen disputing rival interpretations of scripture and citing ecclesiastical authorities about whether or not an infinite number of angels could dance on the head of a pin.

    They don’t actually want to debate the Theory of Evolution; they actually want to deny the facts of Evolution (e.g. law of faunal succession, genome sequencing, etc.), forgetting thereby that empirical data is only challenged by better empirical data, not scholastic sophistry or word-lawyering.

  3. SC said:

    They practice the time-tested political tactic of “Admit nothing, deny everything, and make counter-accusations.”

    Don’t forget the addendum: “Demand proof, discredit witnesses and blame society.”

  4. List some serious criticisms, give some irrelevant examples as counter evidence, declare victory. This is also Rush Limbaugh’s formula. Granted, it has been a long time since I checked, but the example I had in mind was: Claim “liberal media” bias, mention an article that appeared in some college newspaper, declare media is biased.

  5. @ Curmy: you don’t need me to direct you to the DI’s latest on ENV; their letter to BSU, with its veiled threats, is a humdinger! But I’m guessing a blog article is in the works?

  6. Megalonyx says: “I’m guessing a blog article is in the works?”

    Good guess. Gimme a little time, it’s coming.

  7. The arrogant puffery of the DI letter to BSU would take the breath away from a fire-breathing dragon with halitosis.
    I would be greatly disappointed in BSU if they acknowledged the letter at all. It deserves only to be thrown in the trash can upon arrival.

  8. Does this count as the DI’s official jump the shark moment?

  9. Neat article Curmy! Nice one :-)
    BTW, This article has just been mentioned on The Panda’s Thumb – fame at last eh? :-)

  10. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    Curmy said ….

    “The critics have pointed out some of the innumerable problems with Meyer’s book, and despite subsequent responses by the Discoveroids — which often employ the tactics described at the start of this post — there’s nothing more for the critics to say.”

    I’m guessing most of us here comment or lurk at Panda’s Thumb. For the benefit of any who are not, or may have missed it, I’d like to point out that Rhazes has created a blog compiling the criticisms of Meyer’s pant-load of intellectual dishonesty.

    Darwin’s Doubt Critical Reviews

  11. The DI likes to complain about “Darwinists” not wanting to debate even when pro-science advocates have done exactly that in the not-so-distant past.

    http://austringer.net/wp/index.php/2007/04/11/are-id-creationism-advocates-afraid-to-acknowledge-past-debates/

  12. Also collectively known as Proof by Intimidation.

  13. What still, somehow, shocks me is that it’s clear that at least some DI-sponsored folks know exactly what they’re doing. And I just can’t believe that intentional, routine, systematic deceit would actually be considered to be consistent with the religion that it’s the DI’s goal to support. Christians should repudiate their tactics. Everyone should Everyone understands honesty. Even people who are utter science sceptics can oppose what the Discovery Institute does.