Klinghoffer: We’re Skeptics, Not Deniers

The Discovery Institute just posted this at their creationist blog: Seeking to Vilify Doubters, New York Times Now Opts for “Denier” Over “Skeptic.” It was written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger.

As Klinghoffer’s title suggests, his article is all about word-play. But before we discuss it, it’s important to understand why word-play is all they’ve got. We often fail to notice what doesn’t exist, but we shouldn’t overlook the fact that the Discovery Institute has failed to accomplish anything of any substance whatsoever.

The Discoveroids have no evidence for the existence of their supernatural designer, and no hope of examining or explaining the designer’s methods. For all the millions their “think tank” has spent lobbying idiots in state legislatures and conducting revivals at churches and bible colleges, they have no data, no theory, and no hope of ever testing their ideas. All they have is an intense dislike of evolution (and science in general), and the forlorn hope of restoring a supernatural view of the world — see What is the “Wedge Document”?

Despite all the noise they make, the Discoveroids have had no impact on science, industry, agriculture, medicine, academia, or any other rational endeavor. It’s true that they’ve managed to get Academic Freedom bills passed in Louisiana and Tennessee, but those states were already teaching creationism in their public schools, and no other state has followed their example.

Now that it’s clear how empty and dreary the Discoveroids’ record truly is, it’s easy to understand why they’re playing language games — they don’t have anything else. Okay, let’s get to Klinghoffer’s new essay. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

The vaunted New York Times regards it as “progress” that the new standard at the paper is to refer to climate change skeptics as “deniers.”

Ooooooooh — a linguistic shift. That’s important! But we’re not interested in climate change. Neither is Klinghoffer, so he changes the topic to evolution:

Language matters — in part because subtle changes in word choice can serve as a method of intimidating nonconformists. While global warming isn’t our issue, such blatant manipulation techniques are routinely used to cow Darwin skeptics, to dissuade the uncertain from expressing sympathy for skeptics, or from thinking independently themselves. I don’t have any doubt that the Times would regard it as appropriate to call us “evolution deniers.”

Why wouldn’t they? Let’s read on:

The term “denier” is obviously loaded. It intentionally calls to mind Holocaust denial … . Yet I’m confident that most who direct the “science denier” label against Darwin skeptics are not even aware of the scientific issues in the debate about whether blind Darwinian processes can explain the emergence of complex animal life. Nor are they aware of the positive arguments for intelligent design as an alternative theory.

Oh, we’re aware of the “scientific issues.” There aren’t any. Klinghoffer continues:

ID is the subject you can say literally anything about, however grossly ignorant, without worrying that you’ll be corrected on it in the mainstream media. Claiming to know that the science is “settled” is therefore a bluff.

Yeah, we’re bluffing. Here’s more:

It is disturbing to see so highly regarded a newspaper embrace intimidation, calling it “accuracy.” And calling it “progress,” that is “in a good direction.” If using language to squash dissent is progress, then what is it progress toward? If it’s merely “in a good direction,” where does the trajectory end?

[…]

One reason we urge high school science teachers to stay away from ID, and why we support academic freedom laws for teaching about evolutionary theory’s strengths and weaknesses, is precisely because we don’t want to see a teacher lose her job over an ambitious lesson plan.

An “ambitious lesson plan”? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Moving along:

From using disgrace and loss of employment as a weapon, it’s only a short step to wielding criminal law. Is that the kind of “progress” that the influential editors at the New York Times consider “in a good direction”?

Uh huh. Soon, the Inquisition will be back, and this time it’s the scientists who will burn the skeptics. Or so Klinghoffer would have us believe. And now we come to the end:

I would hesitate to say yes. But I also would have hesitated to think that, just for wishing to see evolution treated as a normal scientific idea, subject to debate, I would ever have been linked, through guilt by association, with something as vile as Holocaust denial.

That was quite an essay! But what did it say? To us, it’s a cry of despair. The Discoveroids are losing their war against the Enlightenment, and they know it.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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27 responses to “Klinghoffer: We’re Skeptics, Not Deniers

  1. You could say you were a climate skeptic 20years ago, today you are a denier!!! If you say climate change is not real then you are saying — screw the grand-kids!! But then that does seem to be what history shows to be the attitude of most humans.

  2. “Language matters — in part because subtle changes in word choice can serve as a method of intimidating nonconformists. ”

    I agree with that, actually. CAGW theory is turning into its own religion and academic/industrial complex. Face it..the science is saddled. But creationists tend to view evolution as the only issue that makes or breaks a creationist viewpoint. If you really want to explore creation, how about talking in a history context about cultures that came and went without any exposure to it? Some folks have it in their mission to translate the bible into obscure languages of still isolated tribes in Papua New Guinea. So…what have they been doing with their misguided lives all those generations?

  3. To think that someone would stoop to low as to call to mind, by using the word “denial”, something as vile as “Holocaust denial”.

    Not that anyone would would stoop so low as to say, “without Darwin, no Hitler”.

  4. michaelfugate

    Irony meters breaking world over…. but that happens every time K put pen to paper…
    It is also interesting that the DI took in $2.8M of climate change denial funding according to a source in the Guardian…

  5. Mighty Klinghoffer proclaims

    ID is the subject you can say literally anything about, however grossly ignorant, without worrying that you’ll be corrected on it in the mainstream media.

    And for once, I have to agree with the Seattle Slasher–though probably for different reasons from his own, viz.:

    1. The same statement could be made, with the same accuracy, if you replace “ID” with “astrology”; they aren’t topics that can be taken seriously enough to ever warrent ‘correction.’

    2. Globally, very little of the ‘mainstream media’ wastes time on something as ill-defined and politically reactionary as ID

    3. The “you” in Klinghoffer’s assertion most obviously applies to the proponents of ID themselves, who indeed do say “literally anything…however grossly ignorant” about their diaphonous soi disant “theory” without being “corrected”; ID cannot be “corrected”, only ignored or ridiculed.

  6. michaelfugate

    The previous nonsense in the BC Catholic ( a bit like my So. Baptist grandmother claiming that the Baptists were a separate lineage of Christianity never tainted by papism – John the Baptist and all, but I digress) and the continued shouting from the DI makes me wonder why more Catholics and other Christians who are not science deniers aren’t more vocal.

    The Anglican vicar Michael Roberts in what may be a paraphrase from a conference on Science and Islam said that “Creationism is totally untrue. It exposes people of the book – many of whom, among them distinguished speakers at this conference, see no contradiction between evolutionary theory and their faith – to ridicule. And if it gains traction with governments or other authorities, then the public practice of science and research will be hindered.”

    Well said.

  7. RWR: “Face it..the science is saddled.”

    Looks like you’ve been victimized by your auto spell-correct. How it came up with “saddled” when “settled” was intended is a mystery.

  8. docbill1351

    Yes, you could probably be a climate change skeptic 20 or 30 years ago, but the degree of accuracy, consistency, conformity and cross-correlation of climate data from many sources – atmospheric, terrestrial, oceanic, satellite, atmospheric chemistry, ocean chemistry – has now made the conclusion that the climate is changing rapidly and accelerated by human activity irrefutable.

    There is no climate change skeptic with different data or who can draw different conclusions to the current scientific consensus.

    So, yes, in 2015 one can deny that the climate is changing by being a denier, but the science and the data are unaltered. I’m quick to point out that the same “kind” of people who are climate denialists (the Tooters for sure) are the same “kind” who deny evolution, especially human evolution, and promote nonsense like creationism, ID, fine tuning, alien abduction and that thing from Sweden that can double the size of your [edited out].

  9. michaelfugate, referring to the statement of Anglican vicar Michael Roberts, “Well said.”

    Well said, indeed. And I’m sure Professor Tertius would agree, as well.

  10. docbill1351 says: “Yes, you could probably be a climate change skeptic 20 or 30 years ago …”

    A stronger example would be a Big Bang skeptic — before the cosmic microwave background radiation was discovered. Or a skeptic regarding the existence of extra-solar planets — until thousands were sighted. Today it’s not possible to be a credible skeptic of those things, and a denier would have to be a complete wacko. An even stronger example would be evolution, but we all know that.

  11. One reason we urge high school science teachers to stay away from ID, and why we support academic freedom laws for teaching about evolutionary theory’s strengths and weaknesses, …

    Their only hope is their continuing attack on science and evolution. Of course they stay away from ID, although it’s always implied in whatever they say, because to discuss the strengths (none) and weaknesses (all) of ID, they have nothing to say, it is devoid of any meaning save for its religious foundations.

  12. Don’t forget little davy and his buds are experts in using words to their own benefit. Remember how easily they shift amongst the multiple definitions of theory and belief to say things that are patently untrue — but only if you use the colloquial definitions and not the ones intended when operating within the context of science.
    For example, ID is a theory if you define a theory as ‘an idea’. But when you apply the more rigorous definition of a scientific theory, ID falls out of any consideration. When davy, and others, claim “Evolution is only a theory” or “ID and Evolution are competing theories”, you bet they aren’t using the rigorous definition of a scientific theory.
    One final note, the daddy rabbit of ID is Philip E. Johnson . . . not just a lawyer, but a law professor. The only folks better at word-smithing are Public Relations people.

  13. Ted Herrlich: “…the daddy rabbit of ID is Philip E. Johnson . . . not just a lawyer, but a law professor.”

    Evidently, a “congenial lawyer” as well. (To borrow William Safire’s alternate line about Hillary Clinton — or was that “congenital liar”?)

  14. “It intentionally calls to mind Holocaust denial”
    Sure it does. That’s because Holocaust deniers, evolution deniers and climate change deniers all use the same methods. Take for instance this.

    “I would hesitate to say yes. But I also would have hesitated to think that, just for wishing to see the Holocaust treated as a normal historical topic, subject to debate, I would ever have been linked, through guilt by association, with something as vile as evolution denial.”
    Anyone who can tell me what’s the difference is a better person than me.

  15. Klinkle doopman is going to have a very sad and bitter old age.

  16. A couple of points:

    1) The NYT never said any of this. A NYT ***editor*** said this in an interview on a completely unrelated website.

    2) The interview in question never made ***any*** mention of evolution.

    Klingwrap quite simply made the whole thing up just to make his poo-flinging quota for the week. Though I suppose a manufactured controversy should not surprise any long-term IDC observers.

  17. And if it gains traction with governments or other authorities, then the public practice of science and research will be hindered.

    But remember, creationists like the Ham Man say that they just luuuuuv science. Yet, I wonder what he would say if somebody in a live Q&A asked, “Why spend $125 to $165 million on an Ark Park tourist destination when you could have used that to endow countless chairs of “creation science” and promote actual scientific discoveries?”

    After all, for years YECs have been telling me that the only reason they haven’t been making lots of scientific discoveries is because they are “left out” of the grant funding which only goes to evolutionists! (Yes, another conspiracy.) Some have even said, “We could make incredible discoveries even we had even just a few millions dollars to worth with.”

    Of course, “baraminologists” have been full-time “researchers” at the Creation Museum for years now. So what have Dr. Georgia Purdom et al discovered thus far? (What does she do all day besides write an occasional article for the AIG website and magazine?) She has a genetics Ph.D. Even without fancy labs, shouldn’t she be able to computer analyze existing data and compare animal genomes in order to identify all of the Noah’s Ark original baramins from which all animal life on the earth today evolved? Or perhaps she could explain how the ERVs came about.

    Georgia will be getting a Google Alert on this post so I hope she will tell us what she considers the most important scientific discovery produced by “creation scientists” during the past year/decade/century. After all, if it is truly science, there should be lots of breakthroughs for which AIG should be able to take credit.

  18. The term “denier” is obviously loaded. It intentionally calls to mind Holocaust denial.

    I wouldn’t go there if I were Klinghoffer. Too many fundamentalist Christians are outright anti-Semites, and I don’t doubt that at least some are indeed Holocaust deniers.

    Besides, it’s only in K’s mind that “denier” automatically conjures up Holocaust denial. There are pent of others global warming denialists, moon-landing denialists and so on. Leaping to claim that the Times is intentionally linking them with Jew-haters is a cheap rhetorical trick st best, and at worst suggests a guilty conscience on the part of creationists like Klinghoffer.

  19. @Bible & Science Forum: Professor Tertius : You make several good points concerning research possibilities for creation science. For instance, one would think they would use DNA tracing techniques to backtrack the dispersion of animal species to determine the landing point of the Ark. After all, that shouldn’t be that difficult — they say it happened just a few thousand years ago. Should be a piece of cake.

  20. @retiredsciguy:

    Given that they cannot even come up with a consistent list or definition of the ‘Kinds’ on the ark, tracking back to that point of origin would appear unlikely.

    That is without even considering the fact that a rather large miracle would be needed to turn such a small population into the diversity we see today, and that such a miracle would likely be a fairly effective Forensic Countermeasure as to the location of the scene of the ‘crime’. “Your honor, we cannot present any reliable forensic evidence in this case because some bastard came along and broke all the laws of science, so we cannot scientifically determine exactly what happened.”

  21. I couldn’t help but notice that Klinghoffer didn’t label people like us, at least not here. Am I an Intelligent Design skeptic or an Intelligent Design denier?

    I prefer denier, but it’s a bit clumsy to say.

  22. Hrafn quotes the creation scientists,
    “Your honor, we cannot present any reliable forensic evidence in this case because some bastard came along and broke all the laws of science, so we cannot scientifically determine exactly what happened.”

    Ah yes. Such are the problems with creation “science”.

    Mark Germano wonders about proper terminology,
    “Am I an Intelligent Design skeptic or an Intelligent Design denier?”

    Since Intelligent Design is a religious belief for which there is no evidence one way or the other, perhaps we would be called “Intelligent Design agnostics.”

  23. On second thought, Mark, since belief in Intelligent Design requires a belief in the Grand Old Designer, simply calling us either “agnostic” or “atheist” works just fine.

    After all, the term “Intelligent Design” was invented in order to skirt the Supreme Court ruling prohibiting the teaching of “Creation Science” in public schools.

  24. Klinghoffer should spend a little time discussing use of the term “Darwinists” to describe scientists and others who research and write about evolution. The DI deliberately chooses “Dawinist” to imply that evolution is not science but some sort of cult, composed of devotees to a past historical figure, and who are stuck in 19th century science. Kling is practicing pure projection when he argues about the term “denier.”

    Kling even uses the term “Darwin skeptic” to describe himself and others – coupling his own misleading term for modern evolutionary science with his preferred term for himself. And, speaking of loaded terms, we find this gem in his article – “strident atheist-Darwinian community.” Loaded language, Kling?

  25. One other point, were advocates of the “big-bang” theory ever referred to as “steady state” deniers? Of course not, they had their own theory to advocate. Evolutionary scientists are not ID deniers, for example. They are simply evolutionary scientists.

    Evolution deniers – or even skeptics, for that matter – are referred to as such because they have no theory of their own. Their identity is defined by their opposition to something else, rather than their own “theory.” Such is the case with global warming deniers. And, so it is with with evolution deniers, or “skeptics,” as Kling prefers to call himself.

  26. @Ed
    You nailed it!

  27. Diogenes' Lamp

    Skeptic:

    “I have not seen sufficient evideence to make me believe in X.”

    Denier:

    “If evolution is real, why are there are no transitional fossils? Not even one!”

    “Here is a list of 200 transitional fossils.”

    “Oh, but your silly ‘list’ of hundreds of ‘transitional fossils’ doesn’t explain the Big Bang, does it!”

    [Two minutes later]

    “If evolution is real, why are there no transitional fossils? Not even one!’