We may be seeing the next propaganda initiative from 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).
You can observe the beginnings of their new campaign in two new posts at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog. The first is by their leader, John West: Journal Apologizes and Pays $10,000 After Censoring Article. The second is by Casey Luskin — everyone’s favorite creationist: The First Law of Darwin Lobbying and the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
Before we discuss those new posts, let’s review some of the earlier campaigns waged by the Discoveroids. First they attempted to penetrate academia, but that failed spectacularly (see, e.g., Intelligent Design’s Brief Shining Moment), leaving them only with a woeful list of martyrs featured in their now-defunct “documentary,” Expelled!
Then they identified the soft-underbelly of American politics — school boards — and tried to influence them. That’s had it’s ups and downs (see Kansas Flashback: The Crazy Days). In the past few years they’ve been promoting their misleadingly-named “academic freedom” bills, but so far those efforts have failed everywhere but Louisiana. And although they promote litigation from time to time (always remaining in the background), that hasn’t worked out at all (see Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District).
They’ve always been aware, however, that one of their major failures has been getting their creationist “research” published in respected, peer-reviewed science journals. Quite simply, they’ve never had any science to publish that literally challenges evolution, and until they do their “theory” of intelligent design will remain a fantasy (see Creationism and the Burden of Proof). When they tried to publish by dubious means they failed (recall Stephen C. Meyer’s paper that was approved by Richard von Sternberg, resulting in the infamous Sternberg peer review controversy).
Desperate for some record of being published in peer-reviewed journals, the Discoveroids then tried to set up their own captive journal, BIO-Complexity (see Discovery Institute: Creationist “Peer-Review”). Nobody was impressed. Then, a few months ago, we posted Intelligent Design in Peer Reviewed Publications, in which we said of their recent publication “triumphs”:
[G]etting insignificant survey articles published in journals that are the scientific equivalent of “Toilet Tissue Technology Today” doesn’t mean anything.
But now they seem to be embarked on what looks to us like a campaign of intimidation, an attempt to bully their way into respected journals, perhaps by threatening litigation to frighten the editors of such journals into a more “respectful” attitude toward creationism. We’ve seen signs of this in the Synthese imbroglio, about which we haven’t written because we regard it as a matter to be resolved by the editors of that journal — but you can read about it in the New York Times: Debate Over Intelligent Design Ensnares a Journal.
With all of that background out of the way, we can now look at the two new Discoveroid articles to which we linked at the start of this post. Taking West’s piece first, he says, with his links omitted and bold font added by us:
In one of their favorite soundbytes, members of the Darwin lobby like to assert that intelligent design scientists do not publish peer-reviewed research. That claim is manifestly false. But the fact that intelligent design scholars do publish peer-reviewed articles is no thanks to Darwinists, many of whom do their best to ensure that peer-reviewed articles by intelligent design scientists never see the light of day.
Yes, it’s all a conspiracy. Then he says:
Witness the brazen censorship earlier this year of an article by University of Texas, El Paso mathematics professor Granville Sewell … . Sewell’s article critical of Neo-Darwinism (“A Second Look at the Second Law”) was both peer-reviewed and accepted for publication by the journal Applied Mathematics Letters. That is, the article was accepted for publication until a Darwinist blogger who describes himself as an “opinionated computer science geek” wrote the journal editor to denounce the article, and the editor decided to pull Sewell’s article in violation of his journal’s own professional standards.
We have no idea what happened, but we’ve written about Sewell before. See: Discovery Institute: Math Disproves Evolution from January of last year, and also Discovery Institute Touts Another Genius from a month later. Sewell is signatory to the Discovery Institute’s A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism. His book, which the Discoveroids were touting last year, was published by Discovery Institute Press (the Discoveroids’ own publishing arm) and it received a favorable review by — get this! — a Discoveroid fellow. How lovely.
Let’s read on from West’s article:
The publisher of Applied Mathematics Letters (Elsevier, the international science publisher) has now agreed to issue a public statement apologizing to Dr. Sewell as well as to pay $10,000 in attorney’s fees.
Attorney’s fees? Well, that’s one way to get published. Let’s see if Casey’s article adds anything else of interest. No, not really. He basically praises and rehashes West’s article. Oh, at the end he says:
In the peer-reviewed article he wrote for Applied Mathematics Letters, Sewell argued that the basic principles underlying the second law of thermodynamics, when properly applied, might be a bar to Darwinian evolution after all. I’ll further discuss Sewell’s thesis in a second article later this week.
So there you are. Intelligent Design continues its long march toward respectability.
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