Discovery Institute: Way Beyond Quote-Mining

Our readers know what quote-mining is — see Lies, Damned Lies and Quote Mines, edited by John Pieret. It involves plundering the writing of someone to quote them out of context, thus distorting the meaning of the quote. The victims are usually dead people, because they can’t speak out to criticize the perversion of what they’ve said.

Among the most experienced practitioners of that black art are 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 before about some of the Discoveroids’ more outrageous efforts. For example, see High Risk Quote Mining, and also Workin’ in the Quote Mine, and also Quote-Mining Where No Quote-Miner Has Gone Before.

But for our purposes today, the most appropriate example is Discovery Institute Quote-Mines Eugenie Scott. Why is that appropriate? Because today the Discoveroids are quote-mining Eugenie Scott again.

Actually, this time it’s not really quote-mining. It’s more like — what shall we call it? — quote shifting. They’re taking something Scott said (or so they claim) and blatantly applying that quote to something else entirely. It’s amazingly brazen, and you may find it amusing.

The quote-miner in this case is Casey Luskin, our favorite creationist. He’s the only non-fellow among the Discoveroids, which is a considerable distinction. His post at the Discoveroid blog is Eugenie Scott Endorses Discrimination Against Darwin-Doubting Scientists.

Casey starts out talking about Martin Gaskell, the astronomer who didn’t get hired by the University of Kentucky because they were worried about his attitude regarding evolution. Casey has posted about him before, and so have we — most recently here: Discovery Institute Discovers Martin Gaskell. Today Casey says, with bold font added by us:

Gaskell alarmed the Darwinian thought police at UK because in online notes from a talk, he favorably cites the works of proponents of intelligent design like Michael Behe and Phillip Johnson, and states, “there are significant scientific problems in evolutionary theory,” and “these problems are bigger than is usually made out in introductory geology/biology courses.”

Speaking favorably about Discoveroids certainly is an alarming thing for a scientist to do — but Casey’s a Discoveroid, so he looks at it differently Let’s read on:

Apparently Eugenie Scott thinks that such apparent doubts about the Darwinian consensus justified UK in denying Gaskell the job:

As you know, Eugenie Scott is Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education . Casey purports to quote Scott speaking about the Gaskell affair:

Pro-evolution advocates say the university was well within its rights. “It’s an employment law case,” says Eugenie Scott … . “Can an employer discriminate based on the scientific knowledge of an employee?” she asks. “Well, yeah.”

She’s correct. So what can Casey do with that quote? You’ll see. He says:

Scott is right about one thing: this is an employment law case.

Casey knows about employment cases — at least those involving creationists. He’s some kind of adviser to the lawyers for David Coppedge. From that perspective, what does he say about Scott’s remark? Here it comes:

Two of the questions at stake in this case are:

1. Can a university deny a scientist a job simply because they believe he holds scientific doubts about Darwin?
2. Does a university have the right to discriminate against a job applicant based upon his perceived religious affiliation?

Most rational observers would answer “Yes” to Casey’s first question and “No” to the second (a question that Scott didn’t address). Okay, brace yourself, because here’s how Casey concludes his post:

It would seem that Eugenie Scott thinks the answer to both questions is, “Well, yeah.”

As we said, this isn’t really quote-mining; it’s quote-shifting — or something. It seems to be a new tactic. Be careful, dear reader. If you get quoted answering “Yes” to a question, the Discoveroids may “quote” that as your answer to a totally different question. Isn’t creationism fun?

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

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10 responses to “Discovery Institute: Way Beyond Quote-Mining

  1. I’m not sure they aren’t quote mining Gaskell as well. This was his ‘favorable citation’ of Johnson and Behe:

    [D]espite some popular claims to the contrary, science has no satisfactory explanation of the origins of life yet. Note that the question of the origin of life is a separate problem from the question of the validity of some theories of evolution. The evidence is very good (and gets stronger every year) that all life on earth descended (i.e., evolved from) from a common origin. There is still a problem of the ultimate origin of life. A discussion of the current controversies over evolutionary theory and how Christians view these controversies, is beyond the scope of this handout, but the now extensive literature discussing and reviewing books such as those of Phillip E. Johnson (“Darwin on Trial”) and of biochemist Michael J. Behe (“Darwin’s Black Box”) will give you some of the flavor of the diversity of opinion of Christian biologists (and geologists).

    Note that he isn’t recommending the books of Johnson and Behe but the extensive literature discussing and reviewing them … much of which is highly critical, particularly from scientisgts who are also Christians, such as Ken Miller, Francis Collins, Karl Gibberson, et al.

  2. John Pieret says: “I’m not sure they aren’t quote mining Gaskell as well.”

    They’re hoping he’s one of their own. I doubt that he is.

  3. Casey and his Imaginary Friends.

    Luskin has a long history of using imaginary conversations to float his flimsy arguments. Dead men don’t talk, except to Luskin who, apparently, hears voices all the time.

    Gee, Casey, what would Isaac Newton have said about cdesign proponentsists’ total lack of research?

    I’m sure the iNewt would have said, “It is the weight, rather than the number of experiments that is to be regarded.”

    Heavy, dude.

  4. “Heavy, dude.”

    “There’s that word again; “heavy”. Why are things so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the earth’s gravitational pull? ”


  5. Curmudgeon: “Most rational observers would answer “Yes” to Casey’s first question…”

    I would answer “no” to the first question too. The point is moot, however, because none of these people who try to beat the system, then whine about being “expelled,” have scientific doubts about Darwin. What they have is some combination of poor understanding of what they are hired for, and willful misrepresentation of it to suit their political agenda. Both are severe liabilities.

    The ones who do have scientific doubts about Darwin, e.g. Stuart Kauffman and the late Motoo Kimura, are not denied their jobs, and are fully supported by the “Darwinian thought police.” But you’ll never hear that from the scam artists.

  6. @LRA: Things were very heavy in the 60’s. They were, in fact, so heavy that they tended to leave marks when moved around, resulting in very groovy places.

  7. Right arm, Ed! Farm out!

    We were there, so they tell me. Yep, thems was the days, kicking back, drinking Thunderbird and Kool-Aid and listening to “The World Tomorrow” with Garner Ted Armstrong on the AM dial.


  8. Can a university deny a scientist a job simply because he lies about the science?

    That’s one of the questions that Scott was covering in her response, but she would not have stated it that way for a number of reasons, including liability. She said that a university can discriminate on the basis of “scientific knowledge” because one would take care to publicly suggest that he makes false claims (such as that ID is not religious) due to lack of the proper knowledge, and not accuse him of dishonesty.

    Casey likely knows all of this, and manipulates her words in a manner that could be semantically correct, but clearly was not what Scott was saying. But then, we have trouble with his “lack of knowledge” as well, or, uh, whatever other factors might make so much of his writing wrong.

    Glen Davidson

  9. Gabriel Hanna

    The ones who do have scientific doubts about Darwin, e.g. Stuart Kauffman and the late Motoo Kimura, are not denied their jobs, and are fully supported by the “Darwinian thought police.”

    Let’s not forget Lynn Margulis, who has many unorthodox opinions besides her rejection of evolution by natural selection, and yet has been honored in all sorts of ways for the things she got right.

  10. One interesting and somewhat related fact: Apparently, UK contacted Eugenie Scott during the search process to ask if Gaskell was on NCSE’s “black list”. (He wasn’t, and Scott didn’t voice any major objection to his views at the time.)