Discovery Institute: Bypassing the Old Regime

We found something peculiar in the blog of 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).

Their article has no individual’s byline, so it’s the official position of the whole Discoveroid organization. The title is The Digital Age Liberates Science. It “liberates” science? From what? We didn’t realize science was in need of liberation. Anyway, here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Science has protected its public trust through peer review, publication, and replication.

“Public trust”? The procedures used by science are to assure the quality of the work. Public trust, whatever that may mean in this context, is due to demonstrable results. Well, let’s proceed with the rest of their lead paragraph.

The digital age is changing that. Science is reducing its dependence on journals, and inviting more collaboration, public scrutiny and lay involvement.

Science is inviting lay involvement? Perhaps so, but except for a few specialized programs like SETI at Home, it’s escaped our notice. Let’s read on:

A sociologist of science thinks this can be a good thing. Will it open doors for intelligent design?

We have never paid any attention to the output of sociologists, and we won’t change now. They’re talking about Jerome Ravetz, who has an article in Nature. Here’s a link: Sociology of science: Keep standards high. We continue with the Discoveroids’ article:

When it comes to maintaining quality control in science, there’s nothing sacred about peer review, publication or replication. In essence, those are mere human conventions that have seemed to work (more or less) to protect science from wild ideas during certain periods of civilization.

The Discoveroids understandably minimize the importance of peer reviewed publication, as they’ve never published anything in a recognized journal that supports their “theory” about a magic designer. Here’s more:

They do not preclude other methods of quality control when conditions change. And they are indeed changing: the digital age with the Internet, cloud computing and instant free online publication was not envisioned by the inventors of peer review.

The internet wasn’t envisioned when the procedures of science were developed? So what? Moving along:

It must be noted, too, that the old regime was less than ideal. Replication is not practicable for many types of scientific inquiry (e.g., for unique, one-of-a-kind observations, or for decades-long longitudinal studies).

The “old regime”? Is there a new one that provides better results? Here’s another excerpt:

Scientific institutions have been disturbingly prone to reign by consensus; they sometimes shut out mavericks who might have the best ideas, and quite often promote conformity rather than scrutiny. Intelligent-design scientists know this all too well.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! On with the article:

In addition, journal subscriptions are expensive, shutting out a large segment of the public from scrutinizing scientific claims, and forcing scientists to compete for print space in profit-driven publications.

Oh, those horrible journals! Where is Occupy Wall Street when we need them? The Discoveroid article then discusses what the sociologist wrote in Nature, after which they say:

These ideas from Ravetz are pregnant with possibilities for intelligent design. For too long, the scientific institutions have been like castles with high walls, pouring boiling oil on those deemed to be enemies by the self-appointed guardians of science (almost all pro-Darwin usurpers). Now, those walls are coming down. ID advocates can blog, publish downloadable e-books on the cheap, comment on papers, and collaborate across the world instantaneously.

The internet has possibilities for more than intelligent design. There’s also The Time Cube and the Flat Earth Society, and the Association for Biblical Astronomy. Here’s the Discoveroids’ last paragraph:

Every revolution offers challenges and opportunities. We are in the midst of a global tide of change brought on by the digital age. The anti-ID journal strongholds may not last much longer in a world of open access, open collaboration, and open science. If Ravetz sees more good than bad, then ID advocates should, too. Let those who have longed for scientific integrity master the digital age and take the initiative.

So there you are. The digital age has liberated the Discoveroids to bypass the old regime’s failed methods of quality control — like peer-reviewed professional journals. If the sociologist is correct, the “theory” of intelligent design can achieve success on the internet. Well, let them give it a try; they’re not getting anywhere otherwise.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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13 responses to “Discovery Institute: Bypassing the Old Regime

  1. Ceteris Paribus

    The DI bothers to tell us this because “A sociologist of science thinks this can be a good thing.”? No wonder they get no respect. Next the DI will be telling us about an “astrologer of astronomy” who has published a revelation about the big bang that catches their notice.

    Since the time of Francis Bacon science has been a collaborative and cumulative human enterprise. That won’t change because of The Digital Age.

    Another thing that won’t change is that there will still be individuals who can make a living jumping up and proclaiming that they have suddenly been given a revealed vision of The Eternal Truth. But the Digital Age does certainly make that enterprise more profitable.

  2. “Scientific institutions have been disturbingly prone to reign by consensus…”
    A consensus from expertise is a different thing from a consensus of mere authority. The DI, having neither, is apparently assuming (hoping?) the latter is the only barrier to acceptance of their creed, since authority would be easier to overcome and fake.

  3. Credit where credit is due: I honestly thought the DI had already published the full range of their idiocy, but then they manage new bathos of lunacy like this

    It is amusing, for anyone so inclined, to replace the word ‘science’ in the DI piece with the word ‘medicine,’; e.g.

    “When it comes to maintaining quality control in medicine, there’s nothing sacred about peer review, publication or replication.”

    A sure fire prescription for the very worst quackery, surely!

  4. Casey and his handlers at the Disco Tute really do live in an alternate universe that is completely devoid of substance and utterly divorced from reality.

    One thinks of Josef Goebbels assuring the German public in January of 1945 that “secret weapons” will soon be unleashed on the Allies, thereby assuring victory for the Reich.

  5. “Bathos” — delightful word, Great Claw.

  6. Tomato Addict

    A consensus from expertise is a different thing from a consensus of mere authority.

    The DI fails to recognize that in the new regime the consensus of expertise is stronger, not weaker.

  7. I’m not sure why the DI thinks this is even relevant. The article is about the effect of the digital age on science, not creationism. Nowhere in the article does the author speculate on ways that the digital age will enhance efforts to replace science with a “theistic understanding of nature”, to quote the DI’s wedge document.

  8. The Internet makes it relatively cheap and easy for AiG, ICR, and the DI to create their own faux “peer reviewed” pseudo-science publication sites that have the look and feel of the real thing. Internet trolls and anti-science creationist crusaders can continually link to them. I see them all over the Internet. Unsuspecting, gullible, uninformed readers can be easily duped.

    The Internet makes it easier for lunatics to band together and create their own insane parallel universe. It enables them to spam the cyberworld with links to it. Not only creationist do this. The Truthers have done it, too, as have holocaust deniers, Islamist jihadists, crypto-commies, and almost every nutty conspiracy promoting and/or propaganda generating organization on the planet.

  9. SC curmudges; “Where is Occupy Wall Street when we need them?”

    They’re occupied with something else – probably looking for functional toilets. Or maybe they’re looking for more than two people with the same idea to rub together.

    If you can’t get published, blame a conspiracy, fake your own journals or pretend it doesn’t matter. That strategy works for CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) extremely well.

  10. Jack Hogan suggests; “The Internet makes it easier for lunatics to band together and create their own insane parallel universe.”

    I’m thinking they live on the offspring of Bizarro World and The Twilight Zone (Bill Shatner episode).

  11. I for one am more than happy that the Creationists have publication ability on the net. It provides the real science community with effective weapons against Creationist “science.”

    First, the censorship complaint is effectively moot. The tools are relatively easy and inexpensive to exploit. If we hear complaints about “censorship,” we simply point our interlocutors to the crank publications.

    Second, the Creationist “scientific” output is paltry. This provides a convenient point of attack: Creationism does not lead to extensive scientific research.

    Third, the Creationist output is largely self-referential. IOW we don’t see it widely cited outside of the Creationist sphere in a positive manner. This holds especially in the practical technology realm, where YEC ideas about a global flood should have wide application in mineral resource recovery and civil engineering, just to name two quick examples. This lack of “outside” citations to the Creationist literature represent another Creationist failure, to integrate their work within science and technology in general.

    Finally, there’s the poor quality of the research itself. That poor quality is on wide display now, and we can shine the harshest light upon that fact.

  12. Retired Prof

    “Bathos” is indeed a delightful word. Greek for “natatorium,” isn’t it? 😉

  13. Irving Schwartz

    A good example of the creationist mastery of the Internet is the journal Progress in Complexity, Information and Design, which was founded by Dembski and friends in 2002 and died in 2005, with no new issues being produced. The problem? They apparently couldn’t get anybody except their friends and a few crackpots to submit anything worth publishing.