Those of us who write about The Controversy between evolution and creationism are always dealing with the issue of how to write about the subject at hand so that it will be: (1) accurate, and (2) accessible to the general reader.
We do our humble best, but we are always impressed by the way authors like Ken Miller and Richard Dawkins strike a balance between readability and technical comprehensiveness so that their work can be be appreciated by a large audience.
But is there anyone in the universe who cares about how Casey Luskin — our favorite creationist — plies his craft on behalf of the Discovery Institute? Both he and they are described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page. We already know he’s a dedicated Discoveroid, so what else is there to know about him?
Well, there’s always the psychological angle. Some people may be curious about what goes on inside the head of such a person. Those skilled in such things may be able to make something out of what Casey just posted at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog: Striking the “High Accuracy” and “High Readability” Balance with the New Discovering Intelligent Design Curriculum.
It’s about the Discoveroids’ new book, authored by Casey (who is now the Discoveroids’ “research coordinator”) and two lesser-known intellects, Gary and Hallie Kemper (described as “home school educators”). We wrote about it four days ago when it was first announced. See Hey Louisiana — Here It Is! and then one more time: Discovery Institute Redefines Evolution.
Since their first announcement, the Discoveroids have posted an incredible six more times about the book, one of which was an “interview” with Casey — which we didn’t bother to read. Upon reflection, despite his new post’s promising title, it’s unlikely that Casey provides any revealing insights regarding his motivation or his skills. Anyway, we’ll take a look. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us and Casey’s links omitted:
Over the past couple of months, readers may have noticed I haven’t posted quite as many articles here as usual. This is partly because I’ve been working with my co-authors, Gary and Hallie Kemper, to put the finishing touches on a new introductory ID curriculum, Discovering Intelligent Design.
Actually, we didn’t notice the scarcity of Casey’s posting. We must have filled that intellectual void by watching shows about Nostradamus and ghost hunters on the History Channel. Casey continues:
Having written in this space since the end of 2005, I’ve learned a few lessons about science writing. One of the main things I’ve found is that that it can be a real challenge to communicate complex scientific concepts to a general audience.
What’s so difficult about pushing creationism? Casey explains:
First and foremost, a good science writer needs to make sure what he says is accurate.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Here’s more:
Then comes the next challenge: communicating those scientific ideas to a diverse readership — not just scientists and university students but bank tellers, hotel clerks, soccer moms, priests, rabbis, gardeners and even my dear old grandma. (OK, maybe not my own grandma in particular — she has no idea how to use the Internet.) And above all, teachers and high schoolers (and not just the nerds and geeks, but also goths, punks, vamps, skaters,…and maybe even the stoners and the jocks).
We can’t imagine Casey communicating to the jocks. He seems like the kid they used to take a whiz on in the high school locker room. Moving along, Casey expounds on his struggle between accuracy and reaching a general readership:
At this point, there are a couple options. The “quick and easy path,” as Yoda would say, is to sacrifice scientific accuracy for the sake of communicating to everyone.
That’s precisely what creationists do. Does Casey have any other option? He thinks he does:
Another path that can also be easier (but isn’t always the best choice) is to keep your science writing on a very high level, maintaining strict accuracy, but very likely failing to reach a broad spectrum of less-technical readers.
It seem to us that Casey has chosen the quick and easy path. But he sees things differently:
Given a choice between sacrificing accuracy and sacrificing accessibility, I’ve essentially always opted for the latter. That’s because I can’t stomach the idea of being inaccurate for any reason, even in the noble pursuit of informing my readership.
M’god — is he serious? Here’s another excerpt:
But what if this choice is really a false dilemma? Perhaps there’s a third way, one that communicates scientific information to a broad spectrum of readers yet remains scrupulously accurate. Indeed, I think there is such a third option. It typically requires a lot more time and effort to craft your material. It also usually requires that the science writer himself have a deeper understanding of the subject at hand, and use creativity so as to better explain the relevant ideas. This third way, in my opinion, is the best.
That’s what a good introductory textbook should do — but if it’s written to promote Oogity Boogity, there may have to be — shall we say — some slight sacrifice in the accuracy component. Then Casey says this:
It is precisely the approach we took in developing Discovering Intelligent Design. My co-authors and I worked very hard to make sure that we covered the core topics in the debate over intelligent design, yet communicated the material at an easy-to-read level …
Yeah, okay. We’ll spare you the sales pitch with which the article ends. So there you are, dear reader. Casey claims his new book is not only easy to read, it’s also accurate. It’s the best of both worlds!
We started Casey’s article hoping for some insights. Did we learn anything about Casey’s inner motivations, or his unique writing skills? No, not really. But we can take comfort in being assured that we made no mistake three years ago when we announced that Casey Luskin Is Named a Curmudgeon Fellow.
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