The Discovery Institute Has a Whistleblower

A couple of years ago we wrote an off-topic post titled Your Biggest and Last Regrets, where we speculated:

[W]hat about the Discoveroids, who are forever concealing their old-time creationism in order to maintain the facade of being scientific? Will they regret the course they have taken? Do they regret it even now? Unless one of them turns whistle-blower and spills the beans in a tell-all book — titled My Life as a Fraud Among Fools, we’ll never know.

We never thought anything like that would happen — and it hasn’t, at least not yet — but the next-best thing has happened. There’s a whistleblower among the Discoveroids. Our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) have just posted this at their website: “Creationism Whistleblower”, about a Discovery Institute insider who is spilling the beans. They say:

Writing in The Daily Beast (December 28, 2015), Zack Kopplin reviews the last decade of antievolution strategies — with the assistance of a former employee of the Discovery Institute, the de facto institutional home of “intelligent design” creationism.

A Discoveroid insider is helping Zack Kopplin? You know who Zack is. According to Wikipedia:

Zachary “Zack” Sawyer Kopplin (born July 20, 1993) is an American political activist, journalist, and television personality from Louisiana. Kopplin has campaigned to keep creationism out of public school science classrooms and been involved with other separation of church and state causes. He has opposed school vouchers because they provide public money to schools which may teach creationism. As a high school student, he organized seventy-eight Nobel laureate scientists in a campaign against the Louisiana Science Education Act, a creationism law.

NCSE’s post gives us a few excerpts from The Daily Beast, and that’s about it. Were it not for them, we wouldn’t know about this, because we’ve never visited The Daily Beast before. Now we will. This is their article: Creationism Whistleblower: ‘Academic Freedom’ Is Sneak Attack on Evolution. It’s a big article that you’ll want to read for yourself, but briefly they say, with our bold font:

Led by the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, creationists now promote “academic freedom” laws that allow teachers to supplement biology textbooks with materials that attack evolution. The first academic freedom legislation was sponsored in Alabama in 2004 and became a template for legislation distributed by Discovery Institute across the states.

Despite the scientific-sounding name, a former Discovery Institute employee says it’s anything but.

“DI is religiously motivated in all they do,” the person said, requesting anonymity. “One way to tell that the motivation is religion, and not science, is to compare DI work product to tech papers produced by working scientists in the field of biology or subfield of evolutionary biology. The two kinds of work product look very different, read very different, and were produced by very different means.”

One more excerpt should be sufficient:

“Critical thinking, critical analysis, teach the controversy, academic freedom — these are words that stand for legitimate pedagogical approaches and doctrines in the fields of public education and public education policy,” said the former Discovery Institute employee. “That is why DI co-opts them. DI hollows these words out and fills them with their own purposes; it then passes them off to the public and to government as secular, pedagogically appropriate, and religiously neutral.”

We’ve always known that, of course, but now it’s coming from an inside source. This is great news. All that remains is to learn the identity of the informer. In due course, it will be known. Whoever it is, we congratulate him (or her) for coming to his senses and having the courage to tell the truth.

And now we await the coming firestorm from the Discoveroids. This should be fun!

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

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

24 responses to “The Discovery Institute Has a Whistleblower

  1. Ceteris Paribus

    “[S]aid the former Discovery Institute employee. “That is why DI co-opts them. DI hollows these words out and fills them with their own purposes;

    Ah yes, that sinister “cdesign proponentsists” gambit raises its ugly head once again at the DI.

    So the employees at the DI would be well advised to avoid grabbing a Krispy Kreme donut from the lunch room. The nefarious unknown perpetrator may right now be busy sucking out the lemon custard filling, and replacing it with library paste. Or worse.

  2. michaelfugate

    It is a risk hiring interns from the ranks of college students or recent college grads – they may grow out of their juvenile creationism.

  3. Maybe the DI will now adopt a pledge of allegiance statement like Hambo.

  4. DavidK:
    “Maybe the DI will now adopt a pledge of allegiance statement like Hambo.”

    Well, the DI’s adopting a statement of faith would certainly confirm their religious purpose, which of course they can’t do. So how could they possibly word a pledge of allegiance to prevent whistle-blowing? Hmm.

    Maybe they will just use fear — “It is written that if you talk, you go to hell.” Simple. Tried and true.

  5. Still time for a Curmudgeon Top Five (including this gem)…

  6. The whole truth

    SC said: “And now we await the coming firestorm from the Discoveroids. This should be fun!”

    Yeah, and the tooters will probably be up all night trying to figure out a way to distort this situation and paint Kopplin as the bad guy.

  7. What?! The Disco’Tute is pursuing a religious agenda and are not, as they claim, labouring away at the cutting edge of science? Who knew?

    Sorry, despite my high regard for Zack, I’m not particularly excited by this one, if only because it doesn’t tell us anything that wasn’t blatantly manifest already.

    Strictly speaking, the former D.I. employee here is a “leaker”; a “whistleblower” is someone who comes forward in his own name with hard evidence of specific and covert malfeasance or criminality undertaken by an organisation. I don’t think the D.I. will be losing any sleep over this one at all.

    And in many ways, I think this is all rather beside the point. I do not think ‘Intelligent Design Theory’ is wrong because its advocates are religiously motivated–it’s just plain flat-out wrong because it has no empirical basis and thereby has no basis in science–and still less, in science education. Scientific theories are tested on their merits, not on the intentions of those theories framers. And I.D. doesn’t even rise to the level of being a scientific theory.

  8. LIke Mega I think it nice that our views on the IDiots from Seattle are confirmed, but failed to get excited. I also think they will simply neglect this. But I’ll be happy if the IDiots from Seattle prove me wrong.

  9. I do not think ‘Intelligent Design Theory’ is wrong because its advocates are religiously motivated–it’s just plain flat-out wrong because it has no empirical basis and thereby has no basis in science–and still less, in science education. Scientific theories are tested on their merits, not on the intentions of those theories framers. And I.D. doesn’t even rise to the level of being a scientific theory.

    But motivations do matter here. ID is a political crusade intended to get creationism, and ultimately the whole of fundamentalist religion, into the public schools despite unfavorable court rulings. It needs to be opposed on that basis as well as for its utter intellectual bankruptcy, because it’s supported by politicians who don’t give a rat’s rear end about the latter.

  10. Eric Lipps maintains:

    But motivations do matter here. ID is a political crusade intended to get creationism, and ultimately the whole of fundamentalist religion, into the public schools despite unfavorable court rulings.

    I’ll allow that, in the USA, you have an additional set of considerations arising from the Constitutional separation of church and state. But that is something of a mixed blessing IMHO, as I’ll try and briefly explain:

    In the UK, there is no such constitutional separation (in fact, there is not a written constitution): the monarch is not only head of the British state, but is also head of the established church, the Church of England, In state run primary schools, Christian prayers are routine (though with option for parents of different or no faith to arrange for their own children to opt out), and ‘R.E.’ (Religious Education) a standard item on the national curriculum (it entails outline study of the world’s major religion, and a smattering of philosophical ethics). All of this must strike Americans (as it did me, when first I pitched up on these shores) as dubious at best if not downright horrifying. And yet: Britain is a substantially more secular nation than the United States despite having far fewer legal regulations concerning religion in public life or in schools. It’s a paradox that I have always found intriguing.

    But there is also in the UK specific legislation that prohibits the inclusion of Creationism in any of its guises (and specifically including I.D.) in state-funded schools — not because of its religious content (which does not run afoul of any constitutional issues), but because it is junk science and of no value. Simple and effective.

    Now — again, while accepting you’ve got a different dynamic in the US — I do tend to feel that arguing with Creationists (of whatever stripe) about their religious motivation is a waste of time, if not indeed counter-productive. To do so simply invites the Creationist ‘riposte’ that Science is motivated by atheism, and scientists don’t really think their science is true, but they make it up because they love to fornicate, abort babies, worship Satan and blah blah blah. Or else the Creationists trot out that other wearisome bollocks that ‘science and/or atheism is also a religion’, and therefore must be kept out of American state-funded schools and public life, blah blah blah.

    So I’ll qualify my previous point somewhat, viz., outside the USA (which has some specific legal kinks, motivations and intents of the proposers of scientific theories are often unknowable, and always irrelevant even if known, for science has a good methodology for testing theories without recourse to those theories’ authors. And in any event, there are plenty of excellent scientists who also hold strong personal religious beliefs which do not impede their scientific work. And who cares about that? No one should.

  11. If the anti-evolutionists could drop the argument that it is science, and argue that it is a social-political movement, then how could it be kept out of schools? If they could argue that it is only that people don’t like being reminded of their relationship with other primates, not because of what the Bible says about that (indeed the Bible doesn’t say anything about evolution), but just because of irrational disgust, could they then legislate against evolution?

  12. And if ID really were science, then it would not have lost at Dover…
    All the DI need do is show everyone how a separate creation of humans is a better fit to the genomic data than common descent. Name the cause behind the creation and, if it were intelligent, to tell us how and why it was done.

  13. Interesting idea, Tom S. Blackstone remarked that there was no legislating against a fact of nature. (The way he put it was that not even Parliament could make a man into a woman, but he was talking about matters in his own day.) But what you posit falls well short of that. Could you legislate against teaching a fact on the grounds that many people find it distasteful?

    I suppose you could. I understand that in many states many facts about sexuality and contraception are not taught even in sex-ed class, because many people find the facts distasteful – or think it dangerous for adolescents to know them. (I hope it doesn’t need to be said that I find that notion idiotic.)

    I suppose you could say the same about evolution. The second prong of Lemon might apply, though: if students are not taught about evolution, it might be held to advance a creationist explanation, hence it would serve a religious purpose.

    It should be made the subject of another edition of “Misleading Cases”!

  14. The guy who spills the beans most often is our old pal The Slasher, aka Klinkerbafflegabble. Often he’ll attempt “reverse psychology” by claiming that the Disco Tute is one big fraud and follow it with, “That’s what they’d like you to think!”

    No [edited out!] Sherlock.

  15. The real problem is that, in the U.S. anyway, very little classroom time is spent on evolution anyway. This story is a bit dated, but I believe the overall findings are probably the same today. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/31/evolution-vs-creationism-_n_815664.html

    One thing to note, most teachers in the study avoid spending much time on evolution because they are afraid of the potential response from creationists. The DI constantly blathers on about the “Darwin Lobby” and it’s enforcers, when it’s actually the creationists who are wielding the threats. Certainly the creationists are the ones with lawyers…

  16. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    I think Curm’s design detector might require a fresh battery.😉

  17. “Anyway,” courtesy of the ministry of redundancy ministry.

  18. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik, are you referring to that strange comment you posted earlier? I thought a maniac had hacked into your account.

  19. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    @Curmalicious

    Yes, however I accept responsibility for the outcome. I was perhaps too eager and overzealous trying to please my Dawinist superiors whilst carrying out my clandestine mission. I have confidence that the code will not be broken by the enemy, they too have a faulty detector.

  20. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik, your garbled post hasn’t been permanently deleted. It can still be restored, but I need to know what it is.

  21. Isn’t it strange how the DI hasn’t posted anything yet?

  22. It’s expected, Zack. Denial is what they do best.

  23. The whole truth

    Zack, SC is right about the discotoot and denial but I have a feeling that they will respond at some point.

  24. Yes, even as we speak Klinghumper is probably composing a severe letter to Zack’s parents, advising them to whoop that young’un to learn him some manners!