Discovery Institute: 2013 in Review

This may be premature because it’s not yet mid-November, but it seems like a good time to sum up the year’s accomplishments of the Discovery Institute — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page.

We haven’t done one of these since Discovery Institute: 2011 in Review. At that time we said:

[W]e 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.

Nothing has changed. Those are still among their primary topics. We also discussed their dismal record in courtroom litigation and their failure to get any of their “academic freedom” bills passed. The year 2011 was a total bust for the Discoveroids.

As for their accomplishments in 2012, we didn’t bother with a year-end summary because there wasn’t much to sum up. Instead, we wrote about a few of their own summaries. They posted a year-end series about their Top Ten accomplishments for 2012. The only one worth mentioning was that they managed to get an Academic Freedom Law passed in Tennessee. Tennessee thus became the second state (after Louisiana) to enact an anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism piece of legislative insanity that was literally drafted by the Discoveroids, based on their heavily-promoted model Academic Freedom Act.

Then they told us about their Top Story for 2012. What was it? They claimed that the ENCODE Project was a “stunning vindication” of their prediction of intelligent design, i.e., that the genome will turn out to have no junk DNA. If that was their top story, 2012 wasn’t much for them. Oh,they also asked for money — see Discoveroids’ Year-End Request for Funds #2

Okay, that’s the past. Now what have they done in 2013? In courtroom litigation, they lost the Coppedge case — see The David Coppedge Case: It’s Over. They’re not actively involved in the other litigation we’ve been watching — John Freshwater’s case and the relatively new Kansas suit challenging the Next Generation Science Standards — see Kansas Creationism Lawsuit Update: 19 Oct 2013. Nor have they even mentioned the John Oller litigation.

In academia, they’ve been actively involved in the Ball State Imbroglio. We don’t know what they’ve accomplished there, if anything. Well, they do have one of their “fellows” on that university’s faculty — see Ball State University Hires Guillermo Gonzalez, and they may or may not have been a factor in the recent decision of the university’s President — see Jo Ann Gora Will Resign. That situation is still unfolding.

In legislation, all the bills they backed in 2013 failed to pass — see The Controversy: Mid 2013 Report, The last creationist bill we were following, which the Discoveroids never mentioned, also failed — see North Carolina’s 2013 Bible Bill — It’s Dead. Well, there may be something going on in Pennsylvania, but they haven’t mentioned it — see Pennsylvania Creationism: A Bill for 2013?

Well, what have the Discoveroids done? Each year they receive more than $4 million from their generous patrons, and at least half of that is devoted to their creationist public relations activities. Have they accomplished anything? As we glance through our posts about them, we don’t see anything they can brag about. They’ve had their revivals here and there. They blog about their disgust with science. They do their share of quote-mining. And they’ve been furiously promoting Stephen Meyer’s book, Darwin’s Doubt. That’s about it.

Why are things going so badly for them? It’s not too difficult to think of some reasons. They’ve been beating the same old drum for years now, and everyone who matters already knows what their game is. It’s possible that in another state or two, where the legislature is dominated by utterly crazed creationists, they may yet score a legislative triumph in years to come. But those states are hopelessly backward anyway, so any such victories — if they occur — will be little more than a confirmation of their existing lunacy. It won’t represent any progress for the Discoveroids’ cause.

We can confidently predict that they won’t be doing any science that supports their idea of intelligent design. In all the years that they’ve been doing whatever it is that they do, they’ve never even come close to finding any positive, verifiable evidence to either: (a) contradict evolution, or (b) support intelligent design.

Well then, what will the the Discoveroids be doing for the rest of 2013? They’ll publish some fund-raising posts, and they probably have at least one more propaganda barrage remaining for the year, along with 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.

But the year isn’t over yet. They still have seven weeks left, and we could be faced with a year-end surprise. In that sense, this post of ours is a bit of a risk, but it’s a risk we’re willing to take.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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15 responses to “Discovery Institute: 2013 in Review

  1. They sent Discoveroid fellow Michael Flannery to Borneo–isn’t that some sort of accomplishment? Or does he have to stay there permanently to be a worthwhile achievement?

  2. Megalonyx says: “They sent Discoveroid fellow Michael Flannery to Borneo”

    I didn’t know that. It sounds like they’re making progress.

  3. They brought on-board a bunch of new “commenters” like Dense O’Leary who is a fixture at the fever swamp known as Uncommon Descent, Dembski’s old site famous only for the Judge Jones flatulence animation, foley sound by Dembski himself. They got that retired religious nutcase in Indiana, an ancient British crackpot and a couple of other loonies.

    It’s really quite a collection of crackpots, cranks, religious nutters and science deniers. What they all have in common is a massive inferiority complex, a massive persecution complex, rampant narcissism and a strong anti-intellectual streak. A finer collection of idiots you couldn’t round up in the best asylum in the world.

    Maybe that’s their achievement.

  4. Flannery is apparently at a conference in Borneo, commemorating Alfred Wallace and his work there. As far as I can tell, it appears to be focused on local ecology and conservation, and papers on various contributions by Wallace during his time there. The “accepted papers” list is here: http://www.unimas.my/Wallace2013/index.php/accepted-abstracts and Flannery’s paper is on the first page. I downloaded the abstract, and of course it is his usual schtick. It will be a good time for the conference-goers to stretch their legs.

  5. Charles Deetz ;)

    So are we going to casually toss off “Darwin’s Doubt” as insignificant? Its a real book that people have purchased, maybe even read.

  6. Charles Deetz asks:

    So are we going to casually toss off “Darwin’s Doubt” as insignificant? Its a real book that people have purchased, maybe even read.

    People buy Hambo’s books too. What of it?

  7. Yes, Darwin’s Doubt is insignificant. It’s less significant than Behe’s “Black Box” or Wells’ “Icons.” Quite a lot less significant. Meyer’s recent Hopeless Monster falls into the “so what” category. You can only buy it if you look for it. Not exactly jumping off the shelves, or even ON the shelves at the local Barnes and Noble. Nope, Meyer is done with this and he’s going to be stretched to come up with Book Three. Perhaps he’ll write about DNA in a book called “Darwin’s Junk.” With pictures. Can’t wait.

  8. One year after Springer retracted it the creationist croud finally achieved to get the proceedings of the Biological Information: New Perspectives fake conference published. Either, they didn’t realize yet that the Ernst Mayr Library obtained a copy. or the librarians reply to my question if they were aware that this is a creationist book was too embarrassing:

    Thank you Martin for your comments. We do collect in this area occasionally but not comprehensively. We appreciate the warnings.

  9. I actually learned one thing through the activities of IDiots this year: Going through the list of the Ernst Mayr Library I’ve noticed that there are <a href="http://tinyurl.com/p3vlt7g&quot;bird dropping moths. Looking forward to claims that they are way to complex to have evolved. Just wondering if these moths display the same degree of CSI as bird dropping.

  10. A preview button would be appreciated.

  11. Shorter DI rundown: “We got nothing, so we’re bringing out O’Leary, Egnor, and Meyer to prove it.”

  12. sparc says: “A preview button would be appreciated.”

    I would appreciate it more than anyone else.

  13. The biggest Discoveroid accomplishment of the last year or so is by far Michael Medved’s weekly hour on his radio show, where he interviews fellow Discoveroids (Meyer, West, Luskin, etc). There are even commercials for the DI. Rarely do they have guests to offer a critical analysis, but the few times they did, they are, like the callers, well screened so that most “take the bait.”

    Why is this significant? I estimate that less than half of listeners to that show are committed Biblical literalists. But most are not scientists, so conservatives and even many liberals who listen just to disagree, will fall for the falsehoods, be they the “evidence of design,” or the “mainstream science ‘censors’ dissenters” type. And now names of Discoveroids are being attached to the misleading, but catchy memes. A seed has been planted.

  14. Um, didn’t you leave off the list of the scientific papers that they published in peer-reviewed journals?

    Oh, wait a minute; I just overlooked it. I see it now, between the “take the bait” in the next-to-last paragraph and the “Why is this significant?” in the last paragraph of your post. Good job!

  15. It should be noted that the Discovery Institue ID-creationists don’t consider any of the 2013 articles in their own Bio-Complexity journal as being a research article, It’s just two “Critical Reviews” by M. Denton and one of Granville Sewells’s self-referential SLOT categorized as “Critical Focus”..