Discovery Institute Catastrophes: Mid 2014

Wile E. Coyote

Wile E. Coyote

At the end of last year we posted Discovery Institute Catastrophes in 2013. Now that we’re half-way through 2014, let’s take a look at their dismal record of accomplishments for this year.

In making such a survey, it’s good to keep in mind their Wedge strategy. It’s the founding manifesto of the Discovery Institute, drafted in 1998. You can read the actual document at the NCSE website: The Wedge Document. Here’s a scan of the original: The Wedge. It’s a pdf document which begins with a graphic of Michelangelo’s God creating Adam. We wrote about it here: What is the “Wedge Document”?

So far, the Discoveroids have failed to accomplish every one of their goals and objectives, but they keep plugging away. How is this possible? Very few endeavors continue in the face of endless failure.

Occasionally, some lone individual will devote his life to a bizarre cause, for example, there’s The Time Cube guy. Government programs can go on for generations, accomplishing nothing, because the politicians aren’t spending their own money, and the bigger the government gets, the more important they are, so they don’t care if their programs ever do anything. The Discoveroids aren’t spending their own money either. As long as somebody’s money keeps flowing in, they’ll keep doing what they do.

Here’s what they’ve done — or rather, have failed to do — in 2014:

They began the year by claiming they had nothing to do with the fact that creationism was being taught in the public schools of Louisiana — see Creationism in Louisiana? Klinghoffer Is Shocked! That was particularly lovely because the Louisiana Science Education Act is one of the few accomplishments the Discoveroids have ever had, but they were forced to disown it.

They ducked, and have continued ducking, as Bryan College flagrantly discriminated against its faculty members who weren’t sufficiently creationist. They ignored all their rhetorical calls for “Academic Freedom,” which was thereby revealed to be a slogan they invoke only when a secular school, like Ball State, tries to rein in creationists who won’t teach science. See “Academic Freedom” for Creationists Only.

There was that shining moment when they finally stopped pretending that their movement was about science, and Klinghoffer Admits Intelligent Design Is Theism.

They spent a couple of months complaining about Cosmos. Also — as they often do — they presented numerous arguments they claimed supported intelligent design — for example Discoveroids: Horses Can Prance, Therefore …, and also Discoveroids: Science Copies Nature, Therefore … — but their record of failing to produce data to support their “theory” remains unbroken.

Then they tried to stir up some action by complaining about a Darwin Day event held at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, but they never got any mileage out of it — see Science Museum Promotes Science — Scandal!

Oh, and all the states that considered some version of their Academic Freedom Act failed to pass such a law.

So what are their plans for the second half of 2014? We have no idea. In all likelihood, they’ll be concentrating on making sure their generous patrons fund the joint for another year. Accomplishing that is the only goal they have any hope of achieving.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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27 responses to “Discovery Institute Catastrophes: Mid 2014

  1. ladyatheist

    You read their crap so I don’t have to. You are my hero!

    I agree that by now their only true (i.e., achievable) goal is to bring in funding so they don’t have to go looking for real jobs.

  2. Bob Carroll

    Curmy, in your para beginning with “They ducked” you might want to change “it’s” to “its” and “reign” to “rein.”

  3. Thanks, Bob Carroll. Both typos are fixed.

  4. “Then they tried to stir up some action by complaining about a Darwin Day event held at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, but they never got any mileage out of it — see Science Museum Promotes Science — Scandal!”

    I thought the “scandal” the Dishonesty Institute complained about was the fact that the museum promoted an “atheist, anti-theist organization’s event” as part of Darwin Days.

    They were observing that Eugenie Scott and others (such as me) keep telling them that “evolutionatheism” but a photo of the Museum brochure with the atheism event highlighted the atheism organization’s event and that that evidence proves us wrong. The DI considers linking evolution with atheism one of their most effective tactics for attracting donations.

  5. Ceteris Paribus

    @ “it’s” to “its” and “reign” to “rein” Wow, that was fixed faster than a speeding deity.

  6. Charles Deetz ;)

    Didn’t they get the watchmaker analogy published in Nature? Or was it the tornado in the junkyard proof in Science. I forgot which it was. 😉

  7. As the inimitable François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld put it,

    Nous avons tous assez de force pour supporter les maux d’autrui!

  8. waldteufel

    I think the only thing the Discovery Institute has actually discovered is a stable of wealthy but credulous sugar daddies with which they have intelligently designed a cash cow. Milking said cash cow has to be the Discoveroids’ top priority.

  9. Speaking of the Discovery Institute’s propensity for lying, I just came across this not-so-old one from Casey Luskin:

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/01/plants_polyploi055301.html

    Yes, it is not totally on topic here except that it is such a great example of why you can always count on the DI to come up with more and more lies. Plus, several readers here have asked me for memories of my YEC days of long ago.

    It reminds me of a private conversation I had with Dr. Duane Gish, probably years before Casey Luskin was born. (After all, the Ecclesiastes maxim applies even to denialist lies: There is nothing new under the sun.) At the time, I had just learned about polyploidy through an interesting farming magazine article about the hybrid seed corn industry. So I asked Dr. Gish if this was a case where evolution meant an increase in complexity and information, something he always considered impossible without “the intervention of intelligence.” And as with most questions that made things uncomfortable for denialists, he answered me with an accusatory “So you think polyploidy accounts for monkey to man evolution?” (An unwritten rule of the YEC world both then and now is that you don’t ask meaningful questions that will embarrass the leaders by exposing their ignorance…..even in private conversation.) Our interactions had already become strained some weeks before—largely due to my pointing out a dishonest quote-mine are daring to ask if it would be removed from the next edition of his book— but looking back I’m still surprised that I was sufficiently young and brash to reply, “No, I asked you a question. I simply asked what you think about polyploidy adding information and complexity.” With obvious irritation, he mumbled something about my thinking that a phenomenon as rare as polyploidy could possibly provide any credibility for The Theory of Evolution—-because it was always as if he expected that there would be just one single overwhelming item of evidence that should support any hypothesis worthy of rising to the level of a scientific theory. So it was as if an entire theory must rest on just one single process in order to be valid. (I vaguely remember either Gish or Morris, I can no longer recall which, saying something like, “Real science leads to important theories which win out because of an impressive grand slam, not because of a series of bunts, base-on-balls, stolen bases, and singles to the outfield.) Little did I know that I would be seeing this same kind of thinking among denialists many decades later. So the aforementioned DI article brought back memories.

    Now whenever a lawyer on the Dishonesty Institute’s staff decides to tell us why polyploidy is not a good example of evolution at work, you know you are in for a fun trip down Pathological Liar’s Lane. But there’s something fascinating about how they can take solid evidence for evolutionary processes and somehow spin it into an insignificant observation which “good Christians” should ignore, although that insinuation is never actually spoken. I was particularly interested in this Luskin fib when I first saw the headline because I often use polyploidy as my prize example when denialists ask me for evidence of evolution adding information to a genome. Similarly to the late Dr. Gish, Discoveroid Luskin tells us why polyploidy is not evidence for evolution after all:

    1) “Polyploidy is common in plants but not in animals!” (Wow. Picky, picky. I thought simply giving an illustrative example was sufficient!)

    2) “Polyploidy is only common in flowering plants.” (Yes. We all know just how rare those angiosperms are!)

    3) “Most of the resulting offspring aren’t all that much different in appearance and general morphology from their parents. (Remember: Even though they won’t actually say it, they want their followers to keep thinking that real evidence for evolution would be a cat giving birth to a dog! Small changes in any given generation just don’t count.

    Anyway, I was struck by the fact that the worst lying is not always of the most overt kind: making false statements. Equally misleading is this kind of ignorant spin of acknowledging the evidence and then pretending that it isn’t evidence at all or is just too insignificant to matter.

    I’ve seen this “divide and conquer” strategy often in DI denialism: Instead of even mentioning the multiple evolutionary processes which lead to changes in allele frequency, they focus on just one of them at a time, always in isolation, and complain that that one evolutionary process does not explain everything. That’s why you always see them attack processes like gene duplication, genetic draft, genetic drift, etc. in separate articles. They want to put the entire evolution burden of proof on just one process at a time—and then pretend that because that one process doesn’t explain everything, it therefore doesn’t explain anything of importance.

    They even do this with such an important process as natural selection. How many times have we seen this accusation: “Natural selection alone can never account for the alleged molecules-to-man evolution!” Of course, it can’t. The statement is quite true but is only a half-truth (and even less than a half-truth)—and is therefore just as effective as any direct lie.

    Lying was not a spontaneous mutation which entered the YEC gene pool after the Internet propelled the “creation science” of Drs. Gish, Morris, and Whitcomb into the fundamentalist mainstream. Dishonesty alleles were already strongly established in the founder population of YEC ministry entrepreneurs well before The Genesis Flood (1962) turned it loose on the vulnerable, unvaccinated masses of the American Bible Belt.

    Like most stereotypical old-timers, my stories of the past can drone on and on. But ya asked for it. (“When I was a young Young Earth Creationist attending ‘creation science’ Bible conferences, we walked bare-foot uphill for many miles….both ways. And we liked it!” And in those days long before the R.A.T.E. Project, radiometric dating was frowned upon….and only allowed at all if both brought a chaperone.)

    Professor Tertius

  10. Professor Tertius says: “Instead of even mentioning the multiple evolutionary processes which lead to changes in allele frequency, they focus on just one of them at a time, always in isolation, and complain that that one evolutionary process does not explain everything.”

    I usually ignore their posts that quibble about one detail. You’re correct that they do it a lot, but I don’t find it very entertaining to rebut those. I prefer their grandiose claims, or their absurd analogies. That’s when their goofiness is far more apparent.

  11. The Curmudgeon says:
    “I usually ignore their posts that quibble about one detail. …..I prefer their grandiose claims, or their absurd analogies. That’s when their goofiness is far more apparent.”

    Yes, the IDers and the YECists are known for both micro-ignorance and macro-ignorance. But lacking some process to establish a boundary between the two, all of it is deliberate ignorance.

    When asked to describe the research projects I have in the works, I’ve wondered what ______-ology describes “the study of ignorance, especially science ignorance.” What term would add gravitas to my studies of the brain-impaired evidence deniers?

    Whatever ___-ology that would be, no doubt some will specialize in micro___-ology and some in macro___-ology in trying to understand those who choose not to understand. Do we go traditional and choose some Greek or Latin morpheme? I’ve considered “Ineptiology”, from the Latin verb INEPTIO, “to be absurd, to trifle, to play the fool.”

    Or do we “honor” some famous ignoramus of the YEC world by means of terms like “Hamology” or “Hovindology”? Or honor organizations by means of awarding PhDs in the the new fields of “Icrology” or “Aigology”? (Of course, the sound of the latter brings to mind the Greek AGIOS, which, properly aspirated, is HAGIOS, which would produce “hagiology”, sounding like the study of that which is sacred, as in the hagiography of sacred texts.)

    With standard terminology available to us, The Curmudgeon could have commented upon my interest in microineptiology and his interest in macroineptiology. How much evidence of microineptiology would be necessary to confirm INEPTIA at the macroineptiology level?

    [Yes, sometimes I think retirement has left me with too much time on my hands. Too much exposure to dangerous levels of YEC-ism and ID-ology can really take a toll on the brain.]

  12. waldteufel

    Droolology? And, possibly microdroology and macrodroolology?

  13. waldteufel suggests: “Droolology?”

    In certain YEC circles, drool is also known as “living waters.”

  14. Since I mentioned the creationist chaos at Bryan College, there’s a news story today that isn’t worth a whole post, but it’s worth mentioning: Four trustees resign from Bryan College.

  15. docbill1351

    Hey, there’s a poll on whether Livesay should stay or go.

    I’m torn!

    Obviously, he’s insane and by that token he should go. But, I also think the entire college should go and the fastest way to achieve that is for Livesay to stay!

    I say vote to keep him and kill two birds with one ark.

  16. docbill leadeth me not astray, and I voted to keep the insane and utterly deranged Livesay at the helm of his sinking ship. Downward Christian Soldiers!

  17. In the third paragraph, shouldnt “every one of their goals and objectives” be EVEN one of their goals …?

  18. Professor Tertius reveals parenthetically—

    “(An unwritten rule of the YEC world both then and now is that you don’t ask meaningful questions that will embarrass the leaders by exposing their ignorance…..even in private conversation.)”

    A taboo that’s entirely in keeping with the character of megalomaniacs. A real scientist is of course motivated by perplexing questions that have the potential to reveal new or to test existing knowledge, while puffed up autocrats seek to stifle them at birth.

    Anyway, thanks for that fascinating exposé of the methods of YEC and DI. A whole new vocabulary seems needed to describe their many duplicities: Gishorisms, Morriceptions, Whitcombing and Luskination come to mind. I’m sure other commenters will be happy to extend this nascent terminology.

  19. About that poll. Of course, this kind of a poll attracts more voters than the usual readers of the newspaper. It’s got about 1000 votes, when 500 seems to be more like the usual number. FWIF, it’s about 84% for leaving. I’d say that it means that more evolutionists are lurking.

  20. Con-Tester expands the English language: “A whole new vocabulary seems needed to describe their many duplicities: Gishorisms, Morriceptions, Whitcombing and Luskination come to mind. I’m sure other commenters will be happy to extend this nascent terminology.”

    Providentially, one useful adjective already exists: “Ham-fisted.”

  21. SC: “…but their record of failing to produce data to support their ‘theory’ remains unbroken.”

    In fact their record of failing to even say what their ‘theory’ explains remains unbroken. Even Biblical creationism, bless its quaint, mutually contradictory ‘theories’, at least gives a basic “what happened when.” On those rare occasions when critics don’t take the DI’s bait (by claiming that ID “is” creationism), and instead show that ID can’t even meet the pathetic standards of Biblical YEC and OEC, ID peddlers retort with “it’s not IDs job to connect dots” nonsense.

    ID is a scam, and was well before the Wedge document. IDers never had any intention of doing real research, because they know that the results would only validate evolution and further discredit YEC and OEC, and draw more attention to their embarrassing contradictions.

    Nevertheless, despite their crocoduck tears, I think the DI is getting what they want most, which is to maintain the status quo of massive public misunderstanding of evolution, and unhealthy suspicion and/or indifference toward mainstream science. They may not be getting all they want in terms of the “supply” (getting their misinformation taught in schools at taxpayer expense), but they are keeping the “demand” up. There’s no reason to gloat when the great majority still thinks that its “fair” to teach “both sides,” and where millions who don’t personally buy creationism/ID nevertheless react to it with “what’s the harm, let them believe.”

  22. Frank J observed that ID can’t even meet the pathetic standards of Biblical YEC and OEC.

    That about sums it up.

    For it has long been a problem of creationism: how can one describe the sudden appearance of life rather like we know it today without resorting to the Omphalos Hypothesis? What leads the omnipotent and omniscient creator to do things as they are, out of the literally infinite possibilities which the creator could do? What is the theory of creationism? What came first, the chicken or the egg?

    Yet, ID was crafted to eliminate what little substance there was to traditional creationisms.

  23. @Third Prof: though our dear SC would like to forbid it I happen to debate creationists on internet on a regular base. What you write is very, very recognizable to me. So it’s safe to assume they haven’t changed even a bit since the glory days of Gish on his Gallup.

    “my stories of the past can drone on and on”
    Gimme more, please.

  24. Prof. Tertius,

    what you call ineptiology, I call the philosophy of pseudoscience. I have often wondered if academia should have a field called, let’s say, Stupidity Studies.

    Steve Allen, talk show host, used the word “Dumbth” to describe common fallacies.

    I loved the story about the conversation with Gish. Creationists employ straw-man misrepresentations with lightning fast reflexes.

    Creationist: Evolution is impossible because 2+2 = 68! Impossible!!

    Scientist: But 2+2 = 4, not 68. So, you were wrong; evolution is possible.

    Creationist: Ohh, so you’re saying that just because 2+2 = 4, that means pond scum will turn into a beautiful baby! Well it’s not that easy, buster!

    This is a particular but common type of straw-man misrepresentation, involving misrepresenting an argument for necessity as an argument for sufficiency:

    Creationist: Not-X, therefore evolution is impossible!!, because X is necessary for evolution!

    Scientist: Actually, X is true. Thus, evolution is possible because it meets the necessary condition X.

    Creationist: Oh, so you’re saying X by itself is sufficient for evolution? Well it’s not that easy, buster!

  25. Typo: “Actually, not-X is true” should be “X is true.”

    [*Voice from above*] I don’t mind contradictions, but if you insist, okay.

  26. TomS: “For it has long been a problem of creationism: how can one describe the sudden appearance of life rather like we know it today without resorting to the Omphalos Hypothesis? …Yet, ID was crafted to eliminate what little substance there was to traditional creationisms.”

    And in fact the only half-hearted stab at it taken by any major IDer implicitly denied “sudden appearance,” either the “all ‘kinds” at once” of the YECs and some OECs, or the “various ‘kinds’ periodically over billions of years” of other OECs. That was Behe’s “ancestral first cell” that he wrote of in “Darwin’s Black Box.” More importantly, no major IDer has ever publicly challenged him on it, making it the closest thing to an “official” ID hypothesis.

    ID had to eliminate the designer’s identity and “creat” words in 1987 because of “Edwards v Aguillard,” as all critics are quick to note. But the only reason it had to eliminate any “substance” is because those who became IDers knew well before 1987 that anything remotely resembling any of the mutually-contradictory literal interpretations of Genesis would not hold up to scrutiny, even by most nonscientists.

  27. mnbo: “…though our dear SC would like to forbid it I happen to debate creationists on internet on a regular base.”

    “Creationist” means so many different things, that the word is at best meaningless. Professional creationists (anti-evolution activists) abandoned open Internet boards by ~1990 and almost all retreated to sites that they can control, to delete inconvenient posts and ban inconvenient posters. Very few rank and file creationists (evolution-deniers) take that risk either, and prefer the safety of their church, where no one disagrees, or at most one-on-one debates where they can “evangelize” with no permanent record of he debate.

    The ones who frequent open Internet boards are, like the ones who write “letters to the editor,” “transitional,” and thus a tiny minority (though remember that 1% of US population is still 3 million). Many (most?) of them are trolls, just looking to be “fed,” and some of them are Loki trolls, merely pretending to be “creationists.” The only reason to debate any of them is to show lurkers their double-standards and other word games. That is best done by asking them at least as many questions about their “theory,” specifically “what happened when,” as they ask or assume about “Darwinism.”