Discovery Institute Tactics: Recruitment

WE have often described the creationist-intelligent design (ID) movement in terms which echo those once used to describe the spread of Marxism. The ID movement is currently led by the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids).

The Discoveroids have a faith-based network of accomplices — card-carrying creationists, fellow travelers, and useful idiots — occupying posts in various school boards and legislatures around the country. They use other tactics borrowed from the leftists. One such tactic was described here: Discovery Institute: Stealth Operative Francis Beckwith.

They promote rather obvious ploys like the Academic Freedom Act, and they complain about viewpoint discrimination and academic persecution. The Discoveroids have shamelessly adopted liberal codewords, some taken from the civil rights movement, to propagandize the teaching of intelligent design. That’s why you always see them demanding that the schools should stop “discriminating,” and claiming that they’re for “fairness.” In promoting what is literally affirmative action for their pseudo-science, they tirelessly urge that schools should “teach both sides” of the non-existent scientific “controversy.”

There are sometimes threats and intimidation, as described here: The Ugly Face of Creationism, although we make no accusations, because there are no fingerprints connecting such episodes to the Discoveroids. And there’s another oddity which we’ll toss in for your consideration: The Discoveroids’ Wedge Document describes their arch-enemy — materialism. This is oddly evocative of the Marxists’ enemy of free-market capitalism. See also: Discovery Institute: Conservatives or Socialists? And don’t overlook: Intelligent Design: It’s Not About Science.

If that’s not enough, check out our “global report,” which was only half tongue-in-cheek: Intelligence Briefing: The State of the Creosphere.

That’s a lot to think about — or to dismiss as mere feverish speculation. But the evidence keeps piling up. Today, in what is otherwise a purely local story about a seemingly boring person who has achieved a boring political office, we have found what appears to be an actual case study in the techniques used to identify, recruit, and promote creationist-ID operatives.

This news item is from Texas, currently a principal theater of the Discoveroids’ War on Reason, so today’s story is especially significant. Therefore, dear reader, let us consider, some excerpts from Irving ISD trustee says despite personal beliefs, she won’t push intelligent design, which appears in the Dallas Morning News. The bold font was added by us:

New Irving school board trustee Heather Ashley says that she is a creationist and supports the teaching of intelligent design – though she knows she can’t have any impact at the local level on the teaching of evolution.

“I am not going to, as a school board member, set curriculum that teaches only one point of view,” she said. “I think we should have the possibility of teachers exposing students to different perspectives, which should include intelligent design.”

Irving is a city within Dallas County. They have just acquired exactly what Texas doesn’t need — yet another creationist school board member. How is it that these people keep popping up? Let’s read on:

Ashley, 30, said that she realizes decisions about the teaching of evolution happen at the state level and that she didn’t run for the school board to change its teaching.


“I’m not going to campaign for intelligent design,” Ashley said. “That’s not why I’m on the board.”

Right. We always believe creationist politicians. Hint: Ashley probably dreams about changing the board’s teaching. We continue with the article:

On her résumé she lists that in 2000, she was a fellow for the conservative Family Research Council, which is affiliated with Focus on the Family, a group founded by James Dobson. Ashley said she also supports abstinence-only education.

This illustrates something else we’ve been saying. Any group with “Family” in its name is a creationist outfit — unless the group’s name suggests “family planning,” which is a completely different bunch of people. Here’s more:

Lewisville Trinity Baptist Church pastor Terry Bowman said that Ashley, who is a church pianist and teaches vacation Bible school, is very cooperative. “I think she has some strong convictions concerning family and morality,” he said.


While at the Family Research Council, Ashley said, she worked under Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis, known for his opposition to gays in the military. She said her involvement with the group had “more of a national focus than a local focus.”

We may be making more of this than is really there, but one can conclude that Ashley was spotted by a creationist recruiter, proved her commitment in that “family” outfit, and now she’s being positioned in a political office. See how it works?

Here’s one more excerpt:

“My goal is to serve my community,” she said.

Okay, we know what you’re thinking. This may be pure Curmudgeonly paranoia. But there’s a pattern here. We see the same institutional players over and over again in state after state, and we see their chosen operatives moving into political positions. And we don’t like what we see.

As Colonel Klebb said on SPECTRE Island after reviewing the file on “Nash,” Bond’s opponent in From Russia With Love:

… convicted murderer. Escaped Dartmoor Prison …. Recruited in Tangier … Homicidal paranoiac … Superb material!

Welcome to the controversy, Heather Ashley!

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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7 responses to “Discovery Institute Tactics: Recruitment

  1. Okay, we know what you’re thinking. This may be pure Curmudgeonly paranoia.

    Hardly. This is how the McLeroys and Dunbars end up on state boards of education.

  2. As a graduate of Irving High School (and a Ph.D. in genetics) I was sorry to hear this news. When I took high school biology we did not hear about Darwin and evolution (this was 1963). As a biology buff I of course had already read about evolution, but my high school teacher would not touch the issue. Now that evolution is in the curriculum we have to worry about people who want to take it out or at least throw mud at it. How sad. We must keep up the work of bringing threats to evolution education to light and fight, fight, fight for reason.

  3. Biokid says: “… but my high school teacher would not touch the issue.”

    No information is better than false information.

  4. Where’s my check? 🙂

    Although I am sure you will not budge on this one, I can assure you that I my own man. After who can claim to be both a shill for ID (according to Brian Leiter) and someone who has “disowned” ID (according to Bill Dembski).

    I resigned from DI for several reasons, one of which was my disagreement with how its public voice disparaged my home institution, Baylor University. Second, my own views have always been much closer to thinkers like Etienne Gilson and Stanley Jaki, two Thomists who have written extensively on the relationship between science and religion. Third, I have never been convinced that the Behe-Dembski project works. Here’s why: even if Behe conclusively shows that there is an anomaly for which neo-Darwinism cannot account, that is no reason to abandon the paradigm. After all, there have been many cases in the history of science in which theories have faced difficulties, but their explanatory power works so well in other areas that there is no reason to abandon them. So, I’ve never been a fan of the anomaly-isolation tactic of some critics of neo-Darwinian evolution. Having said that, I am also convinced that some of the questions raised by ID advocates are perfectly legitimate.

    In any event, I have friends at Discovery, who like and admire. I have my disagreements with them. But I am certainly not a “stealth” agent for the political battles in which they have been involved. The last time I testified on this matter was about 6 years ago in Texas, and I wish I had not done it. Partly because it made it more difficult for people to listen to my arguments without bringing to bear on them the culture war motif that has so corrupted our political discourse. There have been several court cases, school board battles, and legislative fights over the past 6 years. There is not one that I have been involved in, including Kitzmiller and this recent Louisiana statute. (I did speak at Southern U. Law School in Baton Rouge in February. I refused to address their legislation, but spoke more generally about the use of the “religious motivation” test as means to invalidate such legislation. My own view on this is that such a test violates free exercise, as I argued in 2006 piece in the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly: )

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

  5. Francis Beckwith, thanks for the comment. We appreciate your taking the time.

  6. Prof. Beckwith,

    Thank you for clarifying your position on this forum. I am curious to know what sort of questions raised by ID advocates are “perfectly legitimate,” however, at least from a scientific standpoint – perhaps the questions you refer to are all of a philosophical or theological rather than a scientific nature? Furthermore, since ID has failed to present a testable mechanism through which an “intelligent agency” influences biological complexity – indeed, it has failed to produce any experimental data in the peer-reviewed scientific literature – do you think that the scientific establishment is incompetent or involved in a global conspiracy, or that ID simply is not science?

  7. Prof. Beckwith, while you’re working on an answer to the excellent questions put by James F, I’d also appreciate knowing if you had anything to do with this post at Uncommon Descent, which claims that you were “recently savaged at considerable length” by “conspirazoid Barbara Forrest”. Or was that — like your defense of ID — just an independently erupting phenomenon?