Discovery Institute: What Are They Thinking?

This may be one of the strangest posts ever 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).

It’s by Bruce Chapman, whom we affectionately call “Chappy.” He’s the founder and president of the Discovery Institute. Chappy’s position makes him Lord High Keeper of the Discoveroids’ Wedge strategy, and the ultimate leader of all Discoveroids. When he posts at their blog, it’s supposed to mean something.

Chappy’s article is My Genes Make Me Hate Work. We can’t figure it out, but he must think it’s important because he posted it. The only virtue we can see in it is its brevity, which allows us to spend a little time giving you some background before we get to it.

The story begins with an article at the website of the American Psychological Association: Associations between dopamine and serotonin genes and job satisfaction: Preliminary evidence from the Add Health Study. All we can see without a subscription is the abstract, which is this:

Previous behavioral genetic studies have found that job satisfaction is partially heritable. We went a step further to examine particular genetic markers that may be associated with job satisfaction. Using an oversample from the National Adolescent Longitudinal Study (Add Health Study), we found 2 genetic markers, dopamine receptor gene DRD4 VNTR and serotonin transporter gene 5-HTTLPR, to be weakly but significantly associated with job satisfaction. Furthermore, we found study participants’ level of pay to mediate the DRD4 and job satisfaction relationship. However, we found no evidence that self-esteem mediated the relationships between these 2 genes and job satisfaction. The study represents an initial effort to introduce a molecular genetics approach to the fields of organizational psychology and organizational behavior.

We know nothing about psychology, so we offer no opinion about that at all. But do you see anything there to get the Discoveroids all worked up? Neither do we. However, that’s only part of the background. Stay with us.

Last week the Journal of the American Bar Association had an article about it: Work Dissatisfaction May Be Partly Genetic. It was a very short summary of the psychology study, and they said:

The researchers cautioned that the results were preliminary … . . But they did offer a suggestion for further genetic research. Identifying genes linked to leadership and entrepreneurship, they said, could help people plan their careers.

Why does the ABA care about the psychology study? We have no idea. Maybe someone at the ABA Journal majored in that subject before law school. But what does this have to do with anything we blog about? Hold on a little bit longer.

A day later the ABA Journal — apparently desperate for material to fill their pages — posted another brief item about the same subject: Are You Satisfied at Your Job? Are Your Parents and Siblings Satisfied at Their Jobs? They mentioned their article from the day before and then said:

Are you satisfied at your job? How do your parents, siblings and others with your DNA feel about their own jobs? Have you been satisfied, at least up to a point, at every job you’ve had, or dissatisfied at every job you’ve ever had? Or do you think that the theory of a link between dopamine, serotonin and job satisfaction is bunk?

We think it’s all trivial stuff, but that’s the background. Now you’re ready for Chappy’s Discoveroid post. It’s short so we’ll copy it all, omitting his links and adding a bit of bold font for emphasis. Chappy says:

Are you lazy? Well, little darlings, it may not be your fault. It is probably your parents’ fault. That is the latest insight from genetic determinism — Darwinian theory applied to practically everything.

Darwinian genetic determinism? Huh? Whaa? Let’s read on:

The ABA Journal is very interested in this issue. Someone may get sued. Operating principle: What can be imagined can be litigated.

Chappy doesn’t like lawyers, it seems. We can understand that. The Discoveroids haven’t done very well in court. He continues:

Until someone figures out how to put one’s ancestors in the dock, however, the only solution for the laziness gene is a big federal program funded through the next federal stimulus program — the one we get once taxes are raised.

Chappy doesn’t like federally-funded research either — especially if it might be about “Darwinian genetic determinism.” He might not object to federal money for creationist research — but there isn’t any way to research the imaginary activities of their magic designer. Here’s the end of Chappy’s post:

I’d put that program together myself, but it’s mid-afternoon and time for my nap.

Okay, that’s it. Now see if you can help your Curmudgeon out. What was Chappy saying? Was it a swipe at psychology? At lawyers? At government programs? Or was that supposed to be a clever attack on Darwin? Whatever it was, Chappy used the Discoveroids’ blog to let you know what was on his mind, so maybe there’s something to it.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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19 responses to “Discovery Institute: What Are They Thinking?

  1. He’s addressing Team Red generally. Team Red doesn’t like lawyers, frivolous litigation, evolution, genetic determinism, evolutionary psychology, government programs, etc, so he’s addressed everyone who shares all those opinions. Maybe 80% of Team Red.

  2. Never heard of “Team Red.” Neither did Google.

  3. Oh, and anyone who does not share Chapman’s opinions on any one of those things will be assumed to be Team Blue.

    I am routinely accused of being a progressive whenever I argue for evolution or anthropogenic global warming.

  4. @SC:Never heard of “Team Red.”

    Election maps.

    Figure out what 80% of people who vote Republican think. That;s team Red. Figure out what 80% of people who vote Democrat think. That;s Team Blue.

    If you disagree with any tenet of Team Red, Team Red assumes you agree with all tenets of Team Blue, and widdershins likewise.

  5. In other words, SC, it’s feces-flinging, and that alone would cure me of any doubts regarding our descent from primates.

  6. Gabriel Hanna says: “In other words, SC, it’s feces-flinging”

    Ah, now I understand.

  7. Sixth paragraph:

    But do you see anything there to get the Discoveroids all worked up? Neither to we.

    Did you mean “Neither do we?”

  8. Whatever it was, Chappy used the Discoveroids’ blog to let you know what was on his mind, so maybe there’s something to it.

    But there’s nothing to it. Nothing. The only reason he’ll post something is that (a) he needs to show his paymasters how he’s “takin’ the fight to Darwin”, (b) keeping the masses happy with how much of a brainiac he is (not), and/or (c) some irrational thought that he didn’t manage to convey.
    Face it. Creationism is like an infinite “Seinfeld” episode. Just as “Seinfeld” was a “show about nothing”, creationism is much ado about nothing. There’s nothing there there. Do you realize how difficult it is to come up with something to blog about when you have nothing to blog about? (Know whatta mean?) That’s the problem you’re seeing here. So he had a stream of consciousness similar to a bowel movement; when the urge hit him, he let it out. The difference is that a bowel movement is both necessary and serves a purpose. I don’t believe the same can be said of his streams of thought.

  9. I think a better question is: what are they smoking?

  10. Gary, you’re right. Aaaarrrrggghhh! I’m losin’ it!

  11. Gary asks:

    Do you realize how difficult it is to come up with something to blog about when you have nothing to blog about?

    Hey, that’s what I do here. It’s my specialty.

  12. I think I know what it is. Discovery Institute is abandoning the “big tent” in favor of “rallying the base”. That’s why Chapman is hitting issues unrelated to evolution.

  13. @GH: Do you think this is a reaction to the criticism of Perry & Co. on the “teach evolution” thing and related controversies?

  14. @SJR: No, they started moving in this direction some time ago. I don’t think that DI really cares about the Republican candidates, though of course they won’t be unhappy to see them succeed.

    I think what’s going on is that they are shifting from offense to defense. Watering down creationism, trying to get courts and academia to acknowledge it as valid science, trying to be reasonable and moderate and giving the appearance of being scientific to appeal to as many people as possible, has failed for them–and by extension for their donors. Dressing up creationism and trying to sneak it around has not only not worked, it has also alienated some of the more conservative creationists, who have actually been saying that intelligent design is anti-Christian.

    So they are giving up that strategy, and instead trying to fire up people who already ARE creationists by engaging in the culture wars generally. They have to polish up their social conservative bona fides as well. I think they need more money and saying “trust us, pretending to be scientists is going to work” is no longer opening the wallets.

  15. Click to access wedge.pdf

    To read the Wedge Document now is to realize how badly the Discovery Institute has failed to achieve any of its stated goals. We’re coming up soon on twenty years since this document was written. The people who bankrolled them have to be wondering why they are throwing good money after bad.

  16. To read the Wedge Document now is to realize how badly the Discovery Institute has failed to achieve any of its stated goals.


    “The Wedge Document” is way too dignified a title for what amounts to an elaborate swindle. Let’s start colloquially referring to it as the “wedgie.” After all, an infantile and potentially harmful schoolyard prank is the intellectual equivalent of what they’ve been trying to do to science in earnest.

  17. @ GH: When you’re fighting the good fight, there’s no such thing as throwing good money after bad.

  18. Well, SC it’s like this. Chapman likes to think that how you behave is purely a consequence of free will, not those busy little enzymes churning out neurotransmitters and those other busy little receptors binding to the neurotransmitters. It’s got nothing to do with evolution, really; he just dislikes scientific explanations for things properly in the Mysterious Designer’s bailiwick.

  19. I was about to write that it’s not Darwin so much as “materialism”, or the idea of the “mind” as separate from the base organic stuff in your head.

    Gerard beat me to it.