Maybe you can help us figure it out. We’ve been observing bits and pieces of a new public relations thrust 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).
We don’t understand the overall concept here. Let us give you some examples of what we’ve been noticing. First, as we’ve discussed several times, most recently here, Discovery Institute & Alfred Wallace, Again, there seems to be a Discoveroid metamorphosis into a full-blown mystical cult — Wallace-ism.
That alone is strange. It’s one thing to claim that some highly respected name from the past is your intellectual predecessor. We’d be delighted to find evidence that, say, Albert Einstein’s secret diary contained insights that prove he would be a great admirer of your humble Curmudgeon. But why would we promote the idea that a known kook, perhaps someone who destroyed his academic career over a goofy enthusiasm for flying saucers, was our intellectual predecessor and is thus validation for our controversial opinions?
That’s essentially what we see going on with the Discoveroids. Observe the latest at their blog. They’re promoting a debate over the question: Resolved: If He Were Alive Today, Alfred Russel Wallace Would Be an Intelligent Design Advocate. Wallace’s place as a co-discoverer with Darwin of evolution by natural selection is secure, but he unfortunately marginalized himself in his later years. His reputation suffered because of his devotion to spiritualism, unscientific fantasies, un-evidenced phantasms, and seances. Now the Discoveroids are using him as intellectual authority to validate their “theory” about a magical designer. They seem to love Wallace — not for discovering evolution, but for his late-life dementia. Their blog article says, with bold font added by us and their links omitted:
This week at Evolution News & Views we present an exclusive online event: a debate between Darwin advocate and intelligent-design critic Michael Shermer and Center for Science & Culture fellow Michael Flannery. The question? If he were alive today, would evolutionary theory’s co-discoverer, Alfred Russel Wallace, be an intelligent design advocate?
And get this — they also say:
The occasion for the debate is the online premiere of John West’s compelling documentary short Darwin’s Heretic, which may be viewed here.
John West? Most of you know who he is (we affectionately call him “Westie”). He’s a winner of the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award. Westie is Associate Director of the Discoveroids’ creationist “think tank,” which consumes almost half of the Discovery Institute’s’ $4 million budget (see Their 2007 Tax Return). That makes him one of the chief Keepers of their wedge strategy.
We wrote about that documentary before, but we didn’t know it was produced by Westie. See Discovery Institute Has Another Documentary, in which we said:
This is the Discoveroids’ website for the film: Darwin’s Heretic. The film apparently also features Michael Flannery, who enjoys the honor of being designated a Discoveroid “fellow.” As we reported here, he wrote a biography of Alfred Wallace, which was published by — brace yourself! — the Discovery Institute Press.
We don’t know why Shermer would spend his time in such a way, but he’s a big boy. You can read his first remarks here: Alfred Russel Wallace Was a Hyper-Evolutionist, Not an Intelligent Design Creationist.
But that’s not all. At the website of the apparently creationist American Family News Network we read: Evolution theory co-founder a ‘heretic’. This appears to be coordinated with the Discoveroids campaign about Wallace. As you know, any outfit with “Family” in its name, but not “planning,” is almost certain to be creationist. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
A documentary that premiers online this Saturday tells why Alfred Russel Wallace, the man who shares credit with Charles Darwin for the theory of natural selection, later became known as Darwin’s heretic.
Here’s one more excerpt from their article about Westie’s documentary:
The 21-minute film is based on Alfred Russel Wallace: A Rediscovered Life, the biography written by Discovery Institute fellow and University of Alabama at Birmingham professor Michael Flannery. He tells OneNewsNow this film can be a valuable tool in the classroom “because people are not familiar with Wallace.”
Why should people be familiar with Wallace — especially his late-life descent into spiritualism? Folks usually have the good taste not to mention someone’s embarrassing behavior in his dotage. But in their quest for anything that might give them intellectual respectability, the Discoveroids are shameless.
So what’s this latest public relations campaign supposed to accomplish? It won’t impress the scientific community and it won’t generate any respect in academia. Anyway, Westie’s documentary should be great “supplementary material” for use in Louisiana schools.
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