Discovery Institute Catastrophes in 2013

Wile E. Coyote

Wile E. Coyote

We take great delight in presenting this summary of the Discoveroids’ greatest failures for the year which is now ending. As we do so, it should not go unnoticed that they’ve accomplished nothing which could be considered a success. Okay, here we go, starting in January:

1 You recall that the Discoveroids were vigorously supporting David Coppedge in his allegedly wrongful termination case against Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which is part of Caltech. At the start of the year we posted about their big loss — see David Coppedge Trial: Final Order Issued. They compounded that failure a couple of weeks later when they urged that Congress Should Act. We never heard anything more about their lobbying effort, so their silence tells the tale.

2 In April we posted Jindal Betrays the Discovery Institute, describing how Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, when asked during an NBC interview about teaching creationism, gave away the “secret” purpose of the Louisiana Science Education Act when he said:

I’ve got no problem if a school board, a local school board, says we want to teach our kids about creationism, that people, some people, have these beliefs as well, let’s teach them about ‘intelligent design’.” “What are we scared of?” he asked.

How embarrassing! Although the entire rational world has always known what that law is all about, the Discoveroids have steadfastly maintained that it is not about teaching creationism. No, of course not — it’s all about teaching science! After Jindal told the truth, the Discoveroids attempted a desperate effort at damage control, and we posted Discoveroids: “Bobby Jindal? Who’s He?”

3 In June we wrote Discovery Institute’s “Peer Reviewed” Literature. Klinghoffer had posted about their pathetic attempts to get their “theory” into the professional, peer-reviewed literature, and we reviewed Klinghoffer’s list. There’s no reason to rehash that here. It’s well known that the Discoveroids have nothing — nothing at all, and Klinghoffer’s post demonstrated that very well.

4 In July we began to report about the Battle of Ball State. That was yet another Discoveroid catastrophe. They had stealthily slipped some of their creationist propaganda into a class taught by Eric Hedin, an assistant professor of physics. He was alleged to have been teaching intelligent design in an honors science class titled “The Boundaries of Science.” It all hit the fan when the whistle was blown by Jerry Coyne. Then it was also disclosed that they had hired Guillermo Gonzalez — the Discoveroid “senior fellow” who failed to get tenure at Iowa State University and who had been teaching at some bible college. That prompted a Statement from Ball State University’s President, Jo Ann Gora, on the impropriety of teaching intelligent design in science class. The Discoveroids have been squawking about it ever since.

5 In September we summarized the Discoveroids’ failures up to that point (see Outgunned & Outsmarted), including the fact that:

their legislative crusade to get states to adopt some version of their anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism Academic Freedom Act has come to an embarrassing stage. This year, “academic freedom” bills have failed to pass in Arizona, in Colorado, in Indiana, in Missouri (two bills), in Montana, in Oklahoma (two bills), and in Texas.

6 Ooops! We see that in November we posted Discovery Institute: 2013 in Review. We covered some of the same ground we’re discussing here (but not all of it), and we also said:

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.

Did anything else happen in the remainder of the year? Oh yes — no one could have foreseen this:

7 In late November, we posted Discoveroids React to Freshwater Decision. Casey said the Ohio Supreme Court “chickened out by refusing to rule on the issues related to academic freedom and evolution instruction.” In spite of the criticism they’ve wrongfully hurled at Judge Jones over the years (the Kitzmiller decision wasn’t an example of judicial activism), it seems that the Discoveroids would like to see some judicial activism — but only if it produces a decision in their favor. And there was one more item for 2013:

8 In December, it was with great pleasure that we posted Discoveroids Suffer a Crushing Defeat. They were apparently embarked on a stealth campaign to infiltrate two-year community colleges with their kind of creationist course, using their books, thinking that no one would notice. But their plans were thwarted at Amarillo College, a state-run, two-year community college in Amarillo, Texas.

There are still nine days remaining in the year, so it’s possible that some other news could turn up, but that doesn’t seem likely. Your Curmudgeon is satisfied with how the year has gone; and we’re confident that the Discoveroids aren’t. That means it’s been a very good year!

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

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19 responses to “Discovery Institute Catastrophes in 2013

  1. they’ve never even come close to finding any positive, verifiable evidence to either: (a) contradict evolution, or (b) support intelligent design.

    Evidence?! Why keep talking about the lack of evidence when they don’t have something for which one can speak of evidence? Rather, they’ve never come close – nay, better: they’ve never shown any interest in providing an alternative explanation, a description of what might have happened, when and where, which does not include natural common descent with modification.
    Why did the “intelligent designer(s)” decide to give humans eyes like the other vertebrates, rather than like those of insects or octopuses?
    How were the IDs constrained by the laws of nature that ordinary chemistry works throughout the world of life? Who were the IDs – what was their “intelligence” like, how many of them were there (and are any of them still doing anything today)?

  2. And thank you for documenting it all in such a brilliant and witty way. Have a great Christmas.

  3. Don’t forget the utter and complete destruction of Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt… by everyone.

  4. Oh, yes! We mustn’t forget the exquisite disemvowelings of Meyer’s hopeless, clumsy, error-filled creationist tome “Darwin’s Doubt.” My personal favorites are by Donald Prothero and at the blog Smilodon’s Retreat. Casey Luskin’s apparent help with Meyer’s klunker gives added giggles. Thanks, Ogre, for reminding us!

  5. I don’t think their failures constitute a problem for them, the problems just are fodder for their complaint filled essays on how they are being marginalized. The fact that they are still in business, still getting money sent their way, still able to exist without having a real job is all they really care about. Their failure to make any waves in the real world (and influence policy) is great though. We’ll know when they are truly vanquished when they are as relevant and successful at garnering donations as the flat Earthers.

  6. The Texas State Board of Education approved all of the proposed biology textbooks without requiring any revisions, despite creationist complaints.
    “[The textbook] will leave students in the dark about contemporary mainstream scientific controversies over Darwinian evolution,” said Meyer.
    “Unfortunately, because Texas is a major purchaser of textbooks, the board’s action may have an adverse impact on science education across America for years to come.”
    It would seem that Meyer is not a happy camper.

  7. You’re being too kind with Wyle E. Coyote as a symbol of their efforts, the Hindenburg is more like how they fared this year.

  8. anevilmeme says: “the Hindenburg is more like how they fared this year.”

    But they’re still in business. I’m saving the Hindenburg.

  9. The Hindenburg needed a saboteur to crash; the IDiots from Seattles all do it by themselves.

  10. TomS: “Evidence?! Why keep talking about the lack of evidence when they don’t have something for which one can speak of evidence?”

    As you know, that’s the game they play to fool the public and throw critics off track. To his credit, SC, unlike many critics, at least makes it clear that evidence “for ID” and “against evolution” are not the same thing.

    But other than a vague hypothesis that Behe offered in 1996 – a ~4 billion year old designed cell ancestral to us all – which would be devastating to believers of YEC or common-descent-denying-OEC – no Discoveroid has dared speculate either (1) how that design might have been implemented, or (2) stated a clear “what happened when” account that can be tested with or without reference to a designer – as evolution can, and even YEC and OEC conceivably could be, as Schwabe and Senapathy independently attempted.

    I think it was Taner Edis in “Why Intelligent Design Fails” who astutely noted that even if the DI was right about ID, the best explanation would be indistinguishable from evolution. And even amidst all their evasion, Discoveroids occasionally say something to support Edis’ claim. For example, Behe’s hypothesis is very close to the account that evolution explains (he never says when the designer might intervene). Dembski went even further in 2001, admitting that ID can accommodate all the results of “Darwinism.” Another time Dembski speculated that the designer might have merely frontloaded all designs at the Big Bang, not even the first life!

    Given all that, when the Discoveroids do occasionally say something friendly to Biblical creationists, the worst way to react is to assume that they are closet Biblical literalists – or worse, YECs. A much simpler explanation is that they are merely throwing a predictable bone to their literalist fans under the big tent.

  11. @ TomS:

    As you know I don’t think they’re even obligated to name the designer – that’s the one thing I think they’re sincere about, if only because if they really were convinced that it was God that they caught red-handed, you’d never have Behe admitting at Dover that the designer might no longer exist, and keeping his DI fellowship. Nor do I think they’re obligated to speculate on the “whys” (designer’s intentions and motives). Evolution doesn’t, so it would not be fair to demand it of them.

    The other Ws are fair game, and as you are painfully aware, not demanded nearly enough from them. So, as a Kizmas present to Discoverids, I copy this (edited) golden oldie from 2006:

    William Dembski’s classic “I’m not going to take the bait”
    comment from a 2002 ISCID discussion board (my link no longer works)sums up the ID scam better than anything. My comments are interspersed with those of WD:

    WD: You’re asking me to play a game:

    No, you’re already playing a game. We’re asking you to stop.

    WD: “Provide as much detail in terms of possible causal mechanisms for
    your ID position as I do for my Darwinian position.”

    We’ll settle for less detail, since we’ve had a few years’ head
    start. Unless you count Paley, in which case you had the head start.
    But we don’t just need “causal mechanisms,” we also need you to
    tell us what those mechanisms explain. You know, the “what happened
    and when” of biological history. Even YECs can do that part, so
    we’re confident that you can too.

    WD: ID is not a mechanistic theory,…

    It isn’t a theory, period.

    WD: …and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in
    telling mechanistic stories.

    ID can’t match any level of detail, which is why you no longer demand
    that it be taught in schools. So you just promote the phony “critical
    analysis” of evolution, which insulates all the other attempts at
    “theories”, e.g. YEC, OEC, saltation, front loading, etc., from a
    real critical analysis. Nice trick, I must admit.

    WD: If ID is correct and an intelligence is responsible and
    indispensable for certain structures, then it makes no sense to try to
    ape your method of connecting the dots.

    Yes it does. You conveniently overlook the fact that when a designer is
    detected in forensics and archaeology – using the “side
    information” that those fields have that yours lacks – investigators
    continue to “connect the dots” by determining what the designer
    did, when and how. In contrast, the object of your game is to get your
    critics to dwell on whether or not there is a designer. That saves you
    from having to say what the designer did, when and how. And you don’t
    want to do that because you know that the answer is “it’s still
    evolution.” Maybe not your “Darwinism” caricature, but still

    WD: True, there may be dots to be connected. But there may also be
    fundamental discontinuities, and with IC systems that is what ID is

    Then what exactly are the “fundamental discontinuities?” They must
    not be biological because Michael Behe made it clear that there is
    “biological continuity” (his phrase for common descent at the
    Kansas Kangaroo Court), and you have not challenged him on it. So for
    all your gyrations about “the” flagellum, barring any extraordinary
    evidence to the contrary, the most reasonable explanation is still that
    modern flagella originated “in vivo” not “in vitro.” Likewise
    humans are “modified monkeys,” not “modified dirt.” And the
    process is still evolution.

    But we understand. You can’t say too much because you need YEC
    political support. We know the game. Like astrology, which Behe likened
    it to at Dover, ID continues to fool millions of people, but it fools
    no biologists except the handful who already sold out to pseudoscience.
    And since the sell-outs seem to know that it’s a scam, we can’t
    necessarily say that it fools them either.

  12. MNb: “The Hindenburg needed a saboteur to crash…

    [citation needed]

  13. @retiredsciguy about the Hindenburg … (this is an oldie)

    Just do a calculation on the probability that all of those hydrogen atoms would, by chance, happen to join with oxygen atoms. It is an extremely small probability, so it must have been done by design.

  14. @TomS: Now, that’s hot! (Pun intended.)

  15. Dear Casey and Kadooplehamster,,,,,,,,,,
    Merry Christmas from the Acme rocket
    and slingshot company…………
    ..beep beep…….

  16. On Failure No. 4, The Battle of Ball State, it’s worth recalling the threat with which Westie concluded his missive to Dr. Gora on 10 September 2013:

    We ask for a response to each of the items listed above by no later than the end of business on Monday, September 30, 2013. If you do not respond by that time, we will assume that you do not intend to answer our questions, or otherwise cooperate with our reasonable requests, and that we must therefore seek remedy elsewhere.

    What ever was this ‘remedy’ the DI was going to seek ‘elsewhere’? My guess is, they have a voodoo doll of Dr. Gora and using it like a pincushion whilst praying to the Forces of Oogity-Boogity for some supernatural smiting…

  17. “[I]t should not go unnoticed that they’ve accomplished nothing which could be considered a success.”

    And what an excellent note to end the year on! 🙂

  18. ////Oh, yes! We mustn’t forget the exquisite disemvowelings of Meyer’s hopeless, clumsy, error-filled creationist tome “Darwin’s Doubt.” My personal favorites are by Donald Prothero and at the blog Smilodon’s Retreat. ////

    Don’t forget Charles Marshall’s review in Science which was followed by a radio debate between him and Meyer. Marshall is a Cambrian explosion specialist and he exposed Meyer’s ludicrous points quite well in my opinion.

  19. Borny, do you have a link to the radio debate? Was it Medved’s show?