Discovery Institute Weeps for Don McLeroy

Buffoon Award

WE have a special treat for you today — a post by John West about Don McLeroy. If you know who McLeroy is you can skip the next few indented paragraphs:

Don McLeroy is the creationist dentist whom Texas Governor Rick Perry had appointed as chairman of the State Board of Education (the SBOE); but the Texas senate voted to reject that nomination. The disgrace of rejection was largely because McLeroy — a young-earth creationist — had presided over the Texas Science Chainsaw Massacre.

To learn more about this dashing Dark-Ager with a dental drill, you need to read his essay, The Gift of Medieval Christendom to the World , which is posted at his personal website. But be warned — we regard McLeroy’s essay as a glimpse into the pit of hell. It’s safer to read what we wrote about it here: The Mind of a Creationist Dentist.

And as everyone knows by now, McLeroy will be off the SBOE at the end of the year. He just lost a Republican primary election to Thomas Ratliff. See: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly.

Okay, now who is John West? It’s in his honor that this post is adorned with our jolly Buffoon logo. If you already know who West is, you can skip the next two indented paragraphs:

West is a winner of the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award. He’s a Senior Fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute (the DI), where he is Associate Director of their Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids). That makes him one of the chief Keepers of their Wedge strategy, and the guru of the cdesign proponentsists (a term described here: cdesign proponentsists).

West can be counted on each year to attempt Another July 4th Hijacking. He also seems to have a history of making — let us say — somewhat exaggerated claims. See: Wild Charges of Evidence Suppression. Then see Brave Struggle Against All Odds. See also: Censored by Vandals!

Okay, those are the players. Let’s see what West has written. We present to you, dear reader, some excerpts from Did Dallas Morning News Endorsement Backfire and Sink Pro-Darwin Candidate?, which appears at the Discoveroid blog. The bold font was added by us:

In the Texas Republican Party primary this week, voters in one part of the state narrowly rejected pro-teach-the-controversy State Board of Education member Don McLeroy.

Aaaargh!! West describes McLeroy — a hard-core, flaming, full-blown young-earth creationist who believes that man and dinosaur lived at the same time — as a “pro-teach-the-controversy” member of the Board. Spin much, Westie?

Teach the Controversy is Discoveroid code for “Let’s jam creationism into the curriculum any way we can.” Wikipedia says:

The campaign was devised by Stephen C. Meyer and Discovery Institute founder and President Bruce Chapman as a compromise strategy … designed to move the focus onto an approach that stresses open debate and evolution’s purported weakness, but does not require students to study intelligent design. The intention was to create doubt over evolution and avoid the question of whether the intelligent designer was God, while giving the institute time to strengthen their purported theory of intelligent design.

West spends half of his essay discussing the defeat of Geraldine Miller, who was pro-evolution, but his thinking (or gloating) about that doesn’t interest us. We note, however, that he says:

I think it’s abundantly clear that Miller’s strident efforts to oppose critical analysis of Darwin are what sunk her with a decisive number of primary voters.

We’re going to focus on what West says about McLeroy, as we find his embrace of the young-earth Dark Ager to be very revealing of the Discoveroid mindset. So we’ll skip a bit until we come to this:

Don McLeroy, also a former Chair of the State Board of Education, became a target of the Darwin lobby earlier this year after courageously leading the Board to adopt science standards that require students to “analyze and evaluate” the evidence for major evolutionary concepts such as common ancestry, natural selection, and mutations.

What West calls the “Darwin lobby” is the group of sane, knowledgeable witnesses who testified before the Board in support of the science standards drafted by experts — the standards that were savagely opposed and mutilated by McLeroy.

The Discoveroids mostly stayed in the background during McLeroy’s confirmation defeat and his recent election loss, but we always suspected that they were silently cheering for the creationist dentist. Discoveroids like to claim that they’re not creationists, but they’ve never fooled anyone. West’s post makes it clear that McLeroy is the Discoveroids’ kind of guy. Let’s read on:

McLeroy had at least three strikes against him from the Darwinists’ perspective.

Strike 1 was that he knew what he was talking about. Unlike some of the pro-Darwin Board members who simply parroted the talking points they got from their Darwinian experts, McLeroy immersed himself in the scientific arguments and literature, and in January he gave a remarkable science lesson to the Board based on his own extensive readings of the conflicting claims offered by Darwinists themselves. It was nothing short of brilliant. But Darwinists don’t like their threadbare talking points to be exposed, and so McLeroy’s presentation was like sticking one’s finger in the proverbial hornets’ nest.

Are you sick yet? No? Stay with us. It’ll happen. We continue:

Strike 2 against McLeroy was his unfailing decency and good humor. Don is the epitome of a gentleman, and doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He goes out of his way to be kind and fair to those with whom he disagrees. … I suspect Don’s sunny disposition further irritated many Darwinian zealots who are anything but sunny.

We never met McLeroy, so we don’t know his disposition. Who cares if he’s a happy creationist? His “good humor” is the least important aspect of his performance on the Board. Here’s more:

The final strike against McLeroy was that he successfully led the Board to enact science standards that require the critical analysis of Darwin’s theory throughout the standards. This was the unforgivable sin. In 2008, Darwinists with a lot of hoopla set out to destroy the previous science standards’ “strengths and weaknesses” provision. To even more hoopla earlier last year, they seemed to achieve their goal. But then they discovered that it was a pyrrhic victory, because while they weren’t paying attention, the specific science standards on evolution were re-written to require genuine critical analysis of all of the major planks of evolutionary theory — a far stronger requirement than anything in the previous Texas science standards!

Yes, that’s right. McLeroy sabotaged the science standards. No question about it. The head Discoveroid, Bruce Chapman, posted at the time to gloat about it. See Discovery Institute: Their Victory in Texas. Moving along:

It was because of this staggering defeat of the Darwinists’ agenda in 2009 that Chairman McLeroy became the object of the Darwinists’ unadulterated wrath, and they smeared and demonized him to such an extent that Democrats in the State Senate refused to allow him to be reappointed as Board Chair. Then Darwinists did their best to continue to demonize McLeroy so that he wouldn’t be renominated in the primary. Given the demonization, smears, and money thrown against him, it’s amazing that McLeroy still almost won renomination, losing by only 860 votes. McLeroy will be missed when his term is up at the end of this year.

Yeah, he’ll be missed — by all the other Dark Agers who share his thinking. (Hi, Westie!) Another excerpt:

So what is the bottom line for science education in Texas in the near future? The State Board of Education will likely remain narrowly stacked against teaching the scientific controversy on evolution, with 7 board members supporting teaching the scientific arguments for and against Darwin’s theory, and 8 board members generally opposed.

West is predicting that the creationists (the “teach the controversy” gang) will be narrowly outvoted, 7 to 8. We hope so. Here’s the end of the article:

As before, the balance of power will be held by a couple of Republican members (Bob Craig and Don McLeroy’s replacement) who will try to play both sides of the fence. Unfortunately, this probably means that lots of scientific errors and misrepresentations will be allowed to stay in Texas’s biology textbooks in the next round of adoptions, and it also probably means that the Board won’t force publishers to follow the state’s excellent science standards on evolution.

Those “excellent science standards on evolution” are the ones that resulted from McLeroy’s butchery. In other words, West predicts that the creationists are going to lose. We don’t have much confidence in anything the Discoveroids say, but this is one time we’re hoping they’re right.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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7 responses to “Discovery Institute Weeps for Don McLeroy

  1. Curmudgeon: “Aaaargh!! West describes McLeroy — a hard-core, flaming, full-blown young-earth creationist who believes that man and dinosaur lived at the same time — as a ‘pro-teach-the-controversy’ member of the Board. Spin much, Westie??

    Spin, and nothing but spin.

    Before I get to my main point, I’ll add a side note that it may be too charitable to say that McLeroy “believes” that man and dinosaur coexisted. At best we know that he promotes it, presumably because he thinks that’s what people must believe to behave properly.

    (Now the main point): Discoveroids who have voiced their opinion on the dinosaur/man (H. sapiens) controversy are quite clear that their existence is separated by ~65 million years.

    So here’s the deal for the Discoveroids: Have your own “strengths and weaknesses” debate with McLeroy on the dinosaur/human controversy, then get back to us when you come to a consensus that can be supported on it’s own merits, with no reference to your problems with “Darwinists.” Until then, stop trying to peddle your snake oil in public schools.

  2. Spin much, Westie?

    The DI fellows spin so much you could attach jumper cables to them and have a free energy machine powering half the West coast without measurably diminishing their net angular momentum.

  3. ” science standards that require students to “analyze and evaluate” the evidence for major evolutionary concepts such as common ancestry, natural selection, and mutations.”

    WTF??? So they’re questioning *mutations* now???? Really????

  4. LRA: “WTF??? So they’re questioning *mutations* now???? Really????”

    Either he just threw it in hoping to bait-and-switch the different meanings of “random,” or maybe use Behe’s bogus “too many simultanious” mutations needed” argument from “Edge of Evolution.”

    If anything, McLeroy’s audacity to challenge common ancestry (CA) must have had some Discoveroids privately fuming. They have taken pains not to address it directly, because they seem to know that CA itself is a done deal regardless of what they think of the mechanism of species change. But they can’t admit that, because it would not be good for the big tent.

  5. John Pieret reported earlier that Miller’s family recently had their home seized for back taxes (although I do not have any news reports handy). Leave it the DI not to do any homework before making such a broad claim.

    Other then that, yes, let’s hope West is right about the “excellent” science standards not being implemented.

  6. re LRA “WTF??? So they’re questioning *mutations* now???? Really????”

    The sunscreen lobby has been raking in the cash with their lies about ‘mutations’ and ‘UV light’ causing skin cancer. I’ve never seen this so-called ‘UV light’, and if it causes mutations, why haven’t I got five arms, I mean, five crocoduck arms?

    Cancer is obviously a punishment by the Sun God. You should sin less.

  7. To the tune of “Dont Cry For Me Argentina”

    And what of Beauty, and what of Truth?
    Those things I tried so hard to hide,
    As I rewrote our history to suit our own ends.
    And through my writing
    I tried hard to make old McCarthy a saint
    And Ronny the saviour of all….
    Was my work all in vain?

    Dont cry for me Mike ‘n Tina
    The truth is you never loved me.
    I played attack dog,
    But still you spurned me.
    I said Creation….
    and then you burned me…….