Discovery Institute Demands Accurate Quotes

Today we shall discuss the odious practice of quote-mining, a shady, dishonorable tactic which is almost universally employed by creationists. It involves plundering, distorting, and perverting the writings or statements of someone, to make it appear that the person being “quoted” said something he really didn’t say at all. See Lies, Damned Lies and Quote Mines, edited by John Pieret.

Henry M. Morris, the now-deceased founder of the Institute for Creation Research, wrote an entire book of such execrable material: That Their Words May Be Used Against Them (Amazon listing).

WorldNetDaily routinely engages in quote-mining. See Cesspool of Creationist Slime, and Thomas Jefferson, Theocrat, and Diabolical Darwin, and Worthless Creationist Rag!

But when it comes to quote-mining, there’s really no one like 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).

We’ve posted about quote-mining by the Discoveroids’ associate director, John West (see Workin’ in the Quote Mine), and by Casey Luskin (see High Risk Quote Mining), and by Casey again (see Where No Quote-Miner Has Gone Before), and here, where another Discoveroid Quote-Mines Eugenie Scott, and here’s another where Casey is quote-mining Francisco Ayala.

Given the extensive and well-documented use of quote-mining by creationists, and by Discoveroids in particular — especially Casey — you may find Casey’s latest posting at the Discoveroid blog to be amusing: Tracking Down the Quotes John Wise Invented for Michael Behe.

Casey is desperately struggling to say something — anything! — in the Discoveroids’ favor following their fiasco at Southern Methodist University (see: More Fallout after Creationist Revival at SMU). Casey says, with bold font added by us:

In my prior post, I noted that John Wise’s online response to Discovery Institute used invented quotes from Michael Behe’s Dover testimony. In one case, this was understandable since Wise was simply copying a misquote from Judge Jones (who copied it from the ACLU). But there’s another invented misquote from Behe’s Dover testimony whose origin is more puzzling.

We’ll ignore Casey’s slur on Judge Jones’ work because we’ve already debunked that canard here: Three Years Since Dover — Merry Kitzmas! Now Casey is claiming that John Wise misquoted Behe’s testimony. We have a whole post on Behe’s performance, which you can review at your leisure (Kitzmiller v. Dover: Michael Behe’s Testimony). Let’s read on:

I tried finding the words attributed to Behe in the Dover trial transcript, but could not. The quote Wise attributed to Behe does not exist.

We can almost hear Casey sighing: Oh dear, it’s just so difficult checking out all these fake Darwinist quotes! And then all the irony detectors within a thousand-mile radius simultaneously explode.

Casey’s talking about Behe’s famous remark while testifying at the Kitzmiller trial that using his (Behe’s) definition of science, which is necessary for intelligent design to be considered science, astrology also qualifies as science. Professor Wise may have been only paraphrasing Behe’s testimony, but he was certainly accurate in describing the substance of what Behe said.

Casey continues through his long and boring post to expound about trivia — the punctuation and the precise wording of what Wise said about Behe’s testimony. But Casey is wasting his time if he thinks anyone will engage with the minutiae of his argument. What Wise said about Behe and astrology was not at all misleading. Period.

Besides, who is Casey — or any creationist — to complain about inaccurate quotes?

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

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20 responses to “Discovery Institute Demands Accurate Quotes

  1. Curmudgeon: “What Wise said about Behe and astrology was not at all misleading. Period.”

    Casey knows that. And he also knows that what Behe said about Jerry Coyne is as misleading as it gets. But he’s trying to save the world, so give him a break. 😉

  2. Well I been workin’ in a quote mine
    Goin’ downtown
    Workin’ in a quote mine
    WHEW about to slip down

    Five-o-clock in the mornin’
    I’ll do what ever it takes
    When my work day is over
    All my quotes are freakin’ fakes

    Well I been workin’ in a quote mine
    Goin’ downtown
    Workin’ in a quote mine
    WHEW about to slip down

    With deepest and most sincere apologies to DEVO.

  3. I actually do think that the “quote” is misleading, and should be changed and/or replaced. It’s not so very far out of line, understand, not like a lot of creationist/ID quotes, yet the context suggests more on the order that astrology once could be considered to be science–which is still at best questionable.

    You want bad quotemines from the head of the DI’s CSC, though? Here they are:

    Another traditional expectation from IDCreationism is poor scholarship, and quotes taken out of context, and this characterizes Meyer’s work as well, beyond what I have already mentioned.

    Meyer claims that “dual-coding”–common in prokaryotes, not common in eukaryotes (such as ourselves)–is a kind of “encryption” (it is not, it is usually a means of data compaction) and, yes, he writes that it is something that only intelligence does. Yet we have good evidence that certain aspects of such “dual-coding” in prokaryotes are what would be expected to occur as the result of evolution. See the abstract at […] So his claim about its origins looks at best to be unlikely.

    W.-Y. Chung and some colleagues studied some of the few cases of “dual-coding” in humans, and Meyer quoted their paper as stating that the origin of these instances “…is `virtually impossible by chance'” (Chung, et al., “A First Look at the ARFome.”). Meyer’s next sentence, which starts a paragraph, provides context which shows his confusion of chance with natural selection: “Nor does natural selection acting on random mutations help explain the efficient information-storage density of the genome” (p. 464).

    But Chung was clearly stating that the maintenance of “dual-coding” was naturally selected, which is the opposite of “chance.” The relevant paper states: “Maintenance of dual-coding regions is evolutionarily costly and their occurrence by chance is statistically improbable. Therefore, an ARF that is conserved in multiple species is highly likely to be functional” (Chung, et al.). Natural selection “pays the cost” because keeping the dual-coding is (by inference) actually functional.

    Another misused source is Michael Lynch. Meyer writes (p. 470) that “…evolutionary biologist Michael Lynch has argued using standard population genetics, the size of breeding populations of multicellular organisms are simply not large enough to have afforded natural selection sufficient opportunity to shape genomes into structures with the kind of hierarchically organized systems of information storage that they exhibit.” Lynch did not do that at all. There is organization in eukaryotic genomes, but not nearly so much as Meyer claims, which is why Lynch writes:

    “The most profound changes [in eukaryotic genomes] include introns that must be spliced out of precursor mRNAs, transcribed but untranslated leader and trailer sequences (untranslated regions), modular regulatory elements that drive patterns of gene expression, and expansive intergenic regions that harbor additional diffuse control mechanisms. Explaining the origins of these features is difficult because they each impose an intrinsic disadvantage by increasing the genic mutation rate to defective alleles.” […]

    It is the putative lack of the efficient organization of the eukaryotic genomes, compared with those of prokaryotes, that Michael Lynch addresses there.

    In still another case, Meyer claims that “on the basis of orthodox evolutionary theory” evolutionary biologists had assumed that “homologous genes should, therefore, produce homologous organisms and structures” (p. 471). Yet text in the chapter note that he uses for reference states the exact opposite: “Comparative and evolutionary biologists had long assumed that different groups of animals, separated by vast amounts of evolutionary time, were constructed and had evolved by entirely different means” (p. 558, note 28), and, “…Ernst Mayr remarked: `Much that has been learned about gene physiology makes it evident that the search for homologous genes is quite futile except in very close relatives…'” (Ibid.). Mayr was incorrect, but Meyer credits Mayr and others of the same position with a stance 180 degrees from the one that they were taking.

    From my review of Signature in the Cell at Amazon

    Actually, the last one isn’t so much a quotemine as simply making a claim the opposite of what the reference really states. But each is far worse than Wise’s “quote,” which I still think should be changed/retracted. Any half competent scientist or editor would have noticed that, meaning that the IDiots who did review it did a very sloppy job, are incompetent, or care too little about the truth to bother to correct egregious errors.

    Pretty one-sided there, Lacey-boy.

  4. I wonder if my home insurance includes utter destruction by irony-meter explosion. After all the insurance company could claim that I should have known better than using it while reading about the cdesign proponentsists …


  5. As Casey notes in his whine:

    In an attempt to verify whether the quote existed, I contacted Dr. Wise to ask him for the source. His reply to me did not provide any source for the quote. He also did not admit any error. However, soon after I sent my inquiry, the quote marks around the erroneous quote mysteriously disappeared from Wise’s online response.

    So, Casey took the time to email Dr. Wise about the quotes, Dr. Wise took the time to remove them. And Casey is whining about what?

    What is it, Casey, you’re whining about? The effing quotes are gone, dude! Get a grip.

  6. Doc Bil asks: “And Casey is whining about what?”

    Your Darwinist brain just doesn’t understand. Casey is a perfectionist.

  7. Casey whining about quote mines is like:
    … Microsoft suing Apple for Graphical User Interface infringement.
    … McDonalds suing Burger King for having too fatty foods.
    … Yugo suing Ford for building a crappy car like the Pinto.

    I could go on and on… new contest?

  8. Your Darwinist brain just doesn’t understand. Casey is a perfectionist.

    What else can you expect from an evolved brain but imperfection?

  9. Wise writes: During the Kitzmiller v. Dover Board of Education trial, Prof. Michael Behe – a leading proponent of Intelligent Design, stated under oath that under the broad definition of science that ID proponents prefer, astrology also qualifies as science. ASTROLOGY, not astronomy.

    Casey writes: During the Kitzmiller v. Dover Board of Education trial, Prof. Michael Behe – a leading proponent of Intelligent Design, stated under oath that under the broad definition of science that ID proponents prefer, astrology also qualifies as science.

    Subtle quote-mining on Casey’s part, I would say…

  10. Tomato Addict: “With deepest and most sincere apologies to DEVO.”

    I realize that the DI immediately makes us think of “devolution,” but you should apologize to the writer, Allen Toussaint, and the late Lee Dorsey, who sang the original hit version.

  11. Luskin: “However, soon after I sent my inquiry, the quote marks around the erroneous quote mysteriously disappeared from Wise’s online response.”

    Which only means that Wise has infinitely more integrity than Discoveroids. Note that Behe chose to leave the period he inserted in Jerry Coyne’s quote. Did Luskin complain to Behe about it, or does he only only “help” when a “Darwinist” does it? Either way, Behe has been aware of it for 14 years. If it was an honest mistake, he would have issued a correction no later than 1997.

    This is yet another “heads I win, tails you lose” scam from the DI. Whether Wise had left the quotes or removed them, Luskin would have spun it to his advantage.

  12. A simple “Google” of behe “definition of science” provides as the first hit a gem from the NY Times published during the trial:

    HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 18 – A leading architect of the intelligent-design movement defended his ideas in a federal courtroom on Tuesday and acknowledged that under his definition of a scientific theory, astrology would fit as neatly as intelligent design.

    Five years later, they’re still arguing that he didn’t really say that. The argument goes that he was actually claiming that Astrology would have been considered science 500 years ago (under Behe’s definition) because at that time it was widely believed to be true. In their blog “Evolution News and Views” they wrote:

    About 500 years ago, most “scientists” believed (albeit incorrectly) that the Earth was the center of the solar system. Had you asked an early astronomer in the year 1500 if the geocentric model of the solar system was “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, and tested hypotheses … that develop[ed] from extensive observation, experimentation, and creative reflection … [and] incorporate[s] a large body of scientific facts, laws, tested hypotheses, and logical inferences” she would have probably told you YES!

    Put the NAS on the witness stand, and they would admit that 500 years ago, some people would have said that geocentrism qualified under their definition of “theory.” In fact, 500 years ago, many of these same people would have put “astrology” under the NAS definition (note: we find this incredible today, but in his time, it was not scandalous that Newton was an astrologer). Today we know both astrology and geocentrism are totally wrong, and so nobody wants them taught as science in school.

    In my view, these guys are crackers. I would like Behe to explain how, 500 years ago, people conducted experiments on Astrological matters, developed hypotheses for the mechanisms of how Astrology worked, tested their hypotheses in carefully controlled tests or studies. Astrology was never science, under anyone but Behe’s definition of what science is. Similarly, Geocentrism was a point of view similar to Intelligent Design, in that it was based on a common sense opinion, but not any sort of scientific process in the modern sense. If, as the DI suggests, we asked that astronomer in 1500 if geocentrism was based on the various elements of modern science listed in the above quote, they would have said “WHAT????”. It’s completely bogus to suggest that non-scientific beliefs of the past were somehow scientific at the time, but have simply been disproved by more recent developments or data or whatever. They were never scientific to begin with. I think this gets to a central issue with ID, which is that the advocates of ID do not understand what science really is, and do their “work” completely outside of the scientific community, and think if they use scientific sounding words that they are somehow doing real science. This may not be just a sham, as it appears to be – they may really believe they are doing science, in the same sense that they believe that Astrology and Geocentrism were examples of early scientific theories (since disproven).

  13. Gabriel Hanna

    It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? Science is, according to DI, whatever scientists believe, so if they believe God designed everything that will be science; so all DI has to do is convince everyone that God designed everything. Experiments and calculations and peer review are so much work–it’s a lot easier to lie about what scientists think and say and give people rationalizations that appeal to their prejudices.

  14. Frank J writes:

    I realize that the DI immediately makes us think of “devolution,” but you should apologize to the writer, Allen Toussaint, and the late Lee Dorsey, who sang the original hit version.

    I stand corrected!

  15. Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District
    Trial transcript: Day 11 (October 18), PM Session, Part 1:

    “Q In fact, your definition of scientific theory is synonymous with hypothesis, correct?

    A Partly — it can be synonymous with hypothesis, it can also include the National Academy’s definition. But in fact, the scientific community uses the word “theory” in many times as synonymous with the word “hypothesis,” other times it uses the word as a synonym for the definition reached by the National Academy, and at other times it uses it in other ways.

    Q But the way you are using it is synonymous with the definition of hypothesis?

    A No, I would disagree. It can be used to cover hypotheses, but it can also include ideas that are in fact well substantiated and so on. So while it does include ideas that are synonymous or in fact are hypotheses, it also includes stronger senses of that term.

    Q And using your definition, intelligent design is a scientific theory, correct?

    A Yes.

    Q Under that same definition astrology is a scientific theory under your definition, correct?

    A Under my definition, a scientific theory is a proposed explanation which focuses or points to physical, observable data and logical inferences. There are many things throughout the history of science which we now think to be incorrect which nonetheless would fit that — which would fit that definition. Yes, astrology is in fact one, and so is the ether theory of the propagation of light, and many other — many other theories as well.”

    Q is Rothschild; A is Behe.

  16. Behe is as clear as he can be…a scientific theory does not require testing and verification, needs not make predictions, and does not need to account for all the known data. It just needs to “focus or point to physical, observable data and logical inferences”. A stone age tribesman could observe the sun travel across the sky and logically infer that it was moving, and by Behe’s definition, create a scientific theory. Which is, come to think of it, a pretty good analog for the science content of ID.

  17. It took me a while to find some time (most of us have day jobs), but here is my response to the Discovery Institute’s lawyer:
    And by the way, let’s get back to questions of science. Let me pose this question once again to the Discovery Institute: Does “No items found” mean the same thing as “Peer review”?
    Best regards,

  18. Nicely done, John Wise. Those are irrefutable responses. My only reaction is to question whether it’s appropriate for you to make such a response. It always strikes me as a wee bit unseemly to grant such people even the limited “recognition” of taking the time to crush their silly claims. (Someone has to do it, of course; maybe that’s what grad students are for.)

  19. True enough, Curmudgeon, but I do believe it is important enough for me to spend a couple of minutes a day trying to quash this nonsense. The ridiculous idea that someone can manufacture an internet “journal” like Bio-complexity out of thin air and gain the respect that “peer review” denotes needs to be pointed out, not just to my scientifically trained colleagues, but also to those who spend their days doing other things. Such action by the Discovery Institute puts them in the same class as the Answers in Genesis flood theory journal (see my website) and this should be pointed out as often as possible.
    I sense that I will eventually grow tired of this, but perhaps not for a while. Who knew it could be this much fun.

  20. Dr. Wise,
    Nicely done indeed. Your “Big Problems with Intelligent Design” page contains a wealth of current information that I hadn’t seen yet, and I look forward to spending more time browsing through it. Thanks for providing this resource.
    I’m glad you are having fun with it too!