CREATIONISTS have failed utterly in establishing even a toehold in the world of science — where evidence and experimental results are peer-reviewed. They have made no effort at all to penetrate the corporate world, where their creationism would be as productive as astrology.
As we’ve pointed out before, the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids) have decided to concentrate on what they see as the soft underbelly of American society — the public school system, where education officials are elected and where scientific credentials aren’t required.
But the Discoveroid campaign to subvert the Enlightenment isn’t limited to electing ignorant rustics to minor offices, thus imitating other tyrannies by controlling the education system. There are additional levers of power that are held by unscientific minds, and those too are being targeted. One example is journalism.
From time to time we’ve mentioned instances where the creeping rot of creationism occasionally manages to infiltrate previously respected publications and institutions. For example: Forbes Magazine Promotes Creationism, and “U.S.News & World Report” Touts Creationism, and “Weekly Standard” Going Creationist?
The latest respected medium to provide an apparently legitimate forum for creationism is Bloggingheads.tv. They hosted an an uncritical — and by some accounts fawning — interview with Michael Behe, whose “expert” testimony at the Dover trial proved so damaging to the creationist cause. See: Kitzmiller v. Dover: Michael Behe’s Testimony.
You can see Behe’s interview on Bloggingheads here. As a result, some reputable people did the rational thing and openly stated their intent to discontinue their appearances on that medium in the future. For example, science writer Carl Zimmer — see: Bloggingheads and the Old Challenges of New Tools. Zimmer says:
My standard for taking part in any forum about science is pretty simple. All the participants must rely on peer-reviewed science that has direct bearing on the subject at hand, not specious arguments that may sound fancy but are scientifically empty. I believe standards like this one are crucial if we are to have productive discussions about the state of science and its effects on our lives.
This is not Blogginghead’s standard, at least as I understand it now. And so here we must part ways
Okay, that seems fair. Here’s the reaction of Sean Carroll, a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology: Bye to Bloggingheads, in which he says:
Unfortunately, I won’t be appearing on Bloggingheads.tv any more. And it is unfortunate — I had some great times there, and there’s an enormous amount to like about the site. So I thought I should explain my reasons.
So last week we were startled once again, this time by the sight of a dialogue between John McWhorter and Michael Behe. Behe, some of you undoubtedly know, is a leading proponent of Intelligent Design, and chief promulgator of the idea of “irreducible complexity.” The idea is that you can just look at something and know it was “designed,” because changing any bit of it would render the thing useless — so it couldn’t have arisen via a series of incremental steps that were all individually beneficial to the purpose of the object.
Here’s the distinction I want to draw, which might admittedly be a very fine line. If someone wants to talk about ID as a socio/religio/political phenomenon worth of study by anthropologists and sociologists, that’s fine. …
But if you present a discussion about the scientific merits of ID, with someone who actually believes that such merits exist — then you are wasting my time and giving up on the goal of having a worthwhile intellectual discussion. Which is fine, if that’s what you want to do. But it’s not an endeavor with which I want to be associated.
Having said all that, I’m very happy to admit that there’s nothing cut-and-dried about any of these issues, and I have a great deal of sympathy for anyone who feels differently and wants to continue contributing to BH.tv. The site provides a lot of high-quality intellectual food for thought, and I wish it well into the future.
We’ve quoted Carroll’s remarks at length so you can judge his behavior for yourself. To us, it seems to be an entirely reasonable and restrained response. In effect he’s saying: “You are free to promote what I regard as pseudo-science, but I shall not lend my credibility to your endeavors.”
This is a truly interesting situation. This isn’t just another rural school board or state legislature (as in Louisiana) that is captured by creationist lunacy. Bloggingheads was created to present intelligent dialogue, which is what they have been doing until now; but the science community isn’t accepting their recent embrace of creationism. In other words, the rational world is openly objecting to this latest instance of Discoveroid infiltration.
What is the reaction of the Discoveroids? It’s not very pretty. Here is a post by their president, Bruce Chapman: “Bloggingheads” Faces the Guillotine.
Guillotine? You can see from the title that the Discoveroid reaction is, shall we say, a bit over the top. Here are some excerpts from Chapman’s post, with bold added by us:
How many intellectuals and media conveyers will defend free speech and the importance of an unfettered debate of ideas? Fewer and fewer. We are witnessing in America a kind of academic French Revolution, where leading opinion is fratricidal, enraged, fanatical — and then overthrown to make room for a newer fanaticism.
People are not getting their heads chopped off physically, of course, but careers are being sliced off and reputations ruined. Fear is in the air.
Oooooh! Fanaticism! Fear is in the air! Let’s read on:
There are manifold efforts to chase down, stigmatize and eradicate intellectual dissent, almost all of them in universities and media outlets. There is no recourse for the honest scholar or commentator except to stand up to the bullies, pay the price and then live in peace with his conscience, whatever his resulting — usually diminished — station might be.
O the ecstasy of being a martyr for Noah’s Ark! We continue:
I use the French Revolution metaphor above. But one also might mention McCarthyism — not the reality alone, but also the hysteria around it.
McCarthyism! Hey, if you like that kind of foaming-at-the-mouth prose, click over to the Discoveroid blog and read all of Chapman’s piece. It’s not very long. But it’s quite revealing.
Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.