Discovery Institute: 2011 in Review

Things haven’t been going very well this year for 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).

If their tax returns for 2008 & 2009 are any indication, they burn through about $2 million per year on their creationist activities. As the whole educated world knows, they have no scientific discoveries to which they can point which even remotely cast any doubt on the validity of Darwin’s theory of evolution. Even Casey’s strange war against junk DNA is going nowhere.

It’s fair to ask what these cutting-edge thinkers have accomplished — if anything — after spending $2 million per year on their activities for a decade. As we review our writing about them for this year, we note that aside from their usual flood of foolish anti-science posts, all they have to show for their efforts is their new love affair with Alfred Wallace, and their continuing efforts to blame Darwin for Hitler.

They’ve been busy promoting litigation on behalf of creationists who suffered workplace “discrimination” — like David Coppedge. They haven’t taken any of those cases to trial, but a few have been settled, allowing them to claim some kind of victory. For example there was the case filed by Martin Gaskell against the University of Kentucky. And another settlement was achieved against the California Science Center. The way we see it, such settlements are nothing more than a “victory” for harassment and nuisance lawsuits; we regard such cases as the creationist equivalent of ambulance chasing.

All of this year’s crop of “academic freedom” bills failed to pass (in Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, New Mexico, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Texas), leaving the Discoveroids with only their 2008 victory in Louisiana to brag about.

They’ve produced and heavily promoted a “documentary” about butterflies that is somehow supposed to disprove the theory of evolution, but of course it doesn’t, and it’s attracted no attention at all outside of the Discoveroids’ blog.

So what has all this furious and useless activity accomplished? The Discoveroids are in the same position as the year before, and the year before that — which is nowhere. They’re not even getting the same attention from the press that they used to enjoy, because even journalists have begun to figure out that they’re just another creationist website — albeit a well-funded one.

They probably have one more propaganda barrage remaining for this year — their customary year-end blasts about the decision on 20 December 2005 by Judge John E. Jones III in the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. While they’re doing that, we’ll be celebrating Kitzmas.

Will next year be any different? We doubt it. But it’s always fun to watch the Discoveroids waste their time — and their patrons’ money.

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

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8 responses to “Discovery Institute: 2011 in Review

  1. The discoveroids are their own worst enemies. I just watched the trailer for Metamophosis, the butterfly movie. They interview a number of people in the trailer who make statements such as:

    “…the cells themselves disappear [caterpillar cells], but then their components are recycled and are turned into a kind of soup out of which the adult structures will be built.”

    “I think the only reasonable answer is an intelligence that transcends the natural world.”

    Very interesting. Here’s the problem (for discoveroids anyway) – the above statement is a perfect description of a natural process that doesn’t transcend natural law. In fact, the soup analogy sounds oddly similar to the language Miller and Urey use to describe the origin of life itself. So, in the end they assert that a “soup” can self organize and transform a caterpillar into an adult butterfly. They didn’t show god manipulating the molecules into position with nanotweezers, so I can only assume the process occurs naturally.

    Here’s another:
    “For evolution to have created this sort of pathway, gradually, it would take a miracle.”

    This is simply a bare faced, unsubstantiated assertion. No science here – next please.

    One more:
    “If you saw a mechanical device of the sophistication of the butterfly, you would not for a moment hesitate to ascribe that to intelligence.”

    How many times do we need to point out that living systems are not mechanical systems. Living systems display self organizing, emergent behavior, mechanical systems do not.

  2. When was the last time the DI published an article explaining a positive argument for “intelligent design” creationism with supporting data, as opposed to a negative argument against the modern theory of evolution also with supporting evidence?

    I would claim the answer is never.

    The DI has NEVER put forth a positive argument for “intelligent design” creationism and the reason is simple, there isn’t one.

    All the DI does is gripe about being treated badly, write how Darwin is Hitler and bash evolutionary theory with unsubstantiated arguments.

    At the core of the DI’s problem with “intelligent design” creationism is this:

    1. There is no theory of “intelligent design.” None. Zip. Nada. No theory.
    2. “Intelligent design” is creationism. It requires a named or unnamed “designer” which is supernatural. That’s creationism.

  3. Doc Bill says:

    The DI has NEVER put forth a positive argument for “intelligent design” creationism and the reason is simple, there isn’t one.

    Right, but Casey argues otherwise. In this old post, Dover Derangement Syndrome, you’ll see Casey argue that just because Behe claims his argument is positive, then it literally is positive.

  4. Yes, Capitan Curmie, that is their ploy. Never to answer the question then point to response Number 9 as an answer to the question which, of course, it’s not.

    Nope, even Behe has never put forth a positive theory of ID that is not a negative argument against evolution. Behe’s latest book, Edge of Evolution, simply points out (in his own rat’s nest mind, but with no data to support it) that the evolution has an “edge” beyond which it can’t work. However, Behe neither demonstrates this nor provides an alternative mechanism for speciation other than a miracle. Common to all creationists, Behe simply invents numbers to support his case, but on casual examination, they do not, of course.

    Morons or turtles all the way down.

  5. Curmudgeon: “As the whole educated world knows, they have no scientific discoveries to which they can point which even remotely cast any doubt on the validity of Darwin’s theory of evolution.”

    But you know that’s not their goal. As long as they can maintain a ~45% denial of evolution (note that only ~1/2 of them are strict Fundamentalists, and an even smaller minority are stric YECs) and a ~75% approval of teaching one or more anti-evolution scams, they have succeeded, and will conue to be well-funded. Remember that their method, unlike that of AiG and ICR, is to flood (pun intended) the public with misleding anti-evolution memes. That those memes keep evolving away from “evolution lacks evidence” to “accepting evolution leads to evil behavior” means that they are running out of options. But I think they have several generations left to perpetrate their scams.

    Our celebration of victories such as Dover need to be tempered with the sobering fact that the ~30 years of fairly consistent public poll results is despite substantial increases in (1) evidence for evolution, (2) acceptance by religious groups, and (3) devatating arguments against creationism/ID.

  6. The DI strategy, reminds me of the famous Chewbacca defense from Southpark. Say something that doesn’t make sense, and because what you say doesn’t make sense, therefore evolution is wrong.

    @FrankJ “Our celebration of victories such as Dover need to be tempered with the sobering fact that the ~30 years of fairly consistent public poll results is despite substantial increases in (1) evidence for evolution, (2) acceptance by religious groups, and (3) devatating arguments against creationism/ID.”

    The trouble with a lot of the evidence is that much of it is coming in the form of information in scientific journals that is not easily accessible to the general public. When a lot of people trust their pastors for the latest in science, politics, and finance why would they ever go looking? If the pastor says “hey that creation museum in Kentucky is a great source of information” and the creation museum says “there are no transitional fossils” why would little Johnny ever go looking for more?

  7. @FrankJ

    While the poll numbers, and that there is no evidence they are improving, are disappointing, remember that belief in astrology, in ghosts, and in UFOs manned by aliens all poll similarly, or higher.

    There is probably an unchangeable percentage of the population that will always be stuck on stupid and that will wallow in ignorance.

    That’s not to say we should not remain vigilant in opposing creationist attacks on science. At least the poll numbers are stable. That would be alarming.

    At I’m at least as concerned with the growing number of high school graduates, and even college graduates, who cannot do basic algebra and who cannot write beyond a grade school level — in those cases when they can string together more than two related and coherent sentences. Sometimes they cannot even do basic arithmetic without a calculator.