Discovery Institute Scolds Mississippi Legislature

Ten days ago we posted Mississippi Creationism: New Bill for 2016. The thing had the usual code-words, like “critical thinking,” “strengths and weaknesses,” and it had that silly “shall not be construed” language, which means “please overlook this statute’s obvious purpose.”

It was based on the Discovery Institute’s Academic Freedom bill. We’ve critiqued their model bill here: Curmudgeon’s Guide to “Academic Freedom” Laws.

The only hope that such bills have of sliming their way into law is if everyone involved maintains the fiction that they’re all about teaching science — which they obviously are not. The Discoveroids used to be good at coaching the sponsors of such bills, but they’ve been losing personnel lately, so creationist legislators have to blunder around without their guidance.

But creationists are like children. They need supervision. Te very next day after our first post about the bill we wrote Mississippi Creationism Bill Doomed by Its Author. Mark Formby, a real estate salesman and legislative genius who introduced the Mississippi bill, destroyed the bill with a single press interview. We quoted a newspaper article that reported:

“I just don’t want my teachers punished in any form or fashion for bringing creationism into the debate. Lots of us believe in creationism,” Formby, the chairman of the House Revenue and Expenditure committee, said. “To say that creationism as a theory is any less valuable than any other theory that nobody can scientifically prove I just think is being close-minded.”

Since that amazingly funny blunder hit the internet, the Discovery Institute has been silent about Mississippi — until now. This just appeared at their creationist blog: Mississippi Legislators Should Drop Academic Freedom Bill or Make Clear It Doesn’t Permit Creationism. It’s by Sarah Chaffee, a new Discoveroid staffer. We’ve been calling her “Savvy Sarah.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us.

In most states where academic freedom bills for science education are considered, it’s the critics who are wrongly claiming that the bills would authorize the teaching of creationism.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Savvy Sarah starts out strong! Then she says:

But if media accounts from Mississippi are accurate, it appears that at least some legislators who support academic freedom legislation wrongly think it would permit creationism. The Mississippi legislature is currently considering HB 50, which was taken virtually verbatim from Discovery Institute’s model academic freedom bill for science education.

Jeepers — why would anyone think the Discoveroids’ bill would permit teaching creationism? Let’s read on:

The language of the bill clearly does not authorize the teaching of creationism. It does not even authorize the teaching of intelligent design. Unfortunately, some of the bill’s sponsors apparently think otherwise.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! If it didn’t do those things, why would a creationist legislator waste his time on the Discoveroids’ bill? Savvy Sarah continues:

To clear up the confusion, Discovery Institute has sent a letter to the Mississippi House Education Committee explaining what the language of the bill would really do and asking the Committee either to drop the bill because of the inaccurate statements put out by some of its sponsors or to make clear that the legislature understands that the bill does not protect creationism.

What follows is a copy of a very long letter the Discoveroids sent to the Mississippi legislators. You can click over there to read it, if you like. We’ll excerpt only the fun parts:

Creationism is typically based on a certain reading of the first chapter of the book of Genesis in the Bible. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that creationism is a religious belief and that it is unconstitutional to endorse it in the classroom.

[…]

We note in addition that the language of HB 50 does not even authorize the teaching of intelligent design. Intelligent design is the scientific theory that some features of nature are best explained as the product of an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. Intelligent design is based on the empirical data of nature rather than the Bible … . Although Discovery Institute strongly supports scientists who are researching evidence of purposeful design throughout nature, we do not favor inserting intelligent design into public school science classes. We think the debate over intelligent design is best left to the scientific community and to discussions among the general public.

[…]

As applied to biological evolution, the language of HB 50 would protect teachers who want to objectively discuss scientific information in favor of Darwin’s theory as well as teachers who want to objectively discuss scientific information conflicting with certain Darwinian claims.

[…]

If you still want to act on HB 50 during the current session despite these concerns, we urge you to make clear in the legislative record (perhaps in a report attached to the bill, and in floor statements) that the bill does not authorize the teaching of creationism nor does it authorize the teaching of intelligent design. Instead, it merely protects the ability of teachers to help students understand the scientific strengths and weaknesses of scientific topics already in the curriculum.

It makes your head spin, doesn’t it? Inherent in all of that are four key clunkers:

(1) intelligent design isn’t creationism, because the Discoveroids avoid identifying their designer as Yahweh, and they carefully avoid citing Genesis as authority for their “theory;”

(2) there really are serious scientific weaknesses in the theory of evolution, which “Darwinists” are unable to solve;

(3) the Discoveroids’ imaginary, transcendent designer — blessed be he! — is a better explanation than anything else; and

(4) the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, which clearly traces the creationist roots of the intelligent design movement, never happened.

Savvy Sarah concludes her post with this:

When sponsoring legislators incorrectly portray academic freedom legislation as authorizing creationism, it is unhelpful for academic freedom in Mississippi and in other parts of the country. Please join us in accurately communicating what bills like HB 50 would accomplish.

So there you are, dear reader. It looks like Mississippi is a lost cause for the Discoveroids — at least this time around. Your compassionate Curmudgeon sympathizes with the Discoveroids. The success of their model bill requires that the legislators involved must not only be aware of the lies and double-talk involved, but they must also be dishonest enough to maintain the charade. The Mississippi legislature, although it probably has an ark-load of creationists, just isn’t slimy enough to do the job.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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10 responses to “Discovery Institute Scolds Mississippi Legislature

  1. michaelfugate

    Intelligent design is the scientific theory that some features of nature are best explained as the product of an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection.

    like the selection used by humans to create animal and plant varieties? or like the injection of genes inside transposable elements used by humans to create bacteria that produce proteins or modify the phenotypes of animals and plants?

    Any evidence for any other kind of intelligent design?

  2. Probably next year, or sooner if possible, the Dishonesty Institute will ghost write the bill for the Mississippi legislature that meets the DI’s criteria. Then Mississippi can follow Louisiana’s model and and continue to kill science education in the public schools.

  3. Our compassionate Curmudgeon opines: “The Mississippi legislature, although it probably has an ark-load of creationists, just isn’t slimy enough to do the job.”

    I think they are plenty slimy enough; they just lack reading comprehension skills, which speaks volumes about the education system of which they are doubtless a product.

  4. Interesting thought. The low quality of their schools has left them too poorly educated to wreck their schools any further. Almost a feedback lesson in there somewhere.

  5. As applied to biological evolution, the language of HB 50 would protect teachers who want to objectively discuss scientific information in favor of Darwin’s theory as well as teachers who want to objectively discuss scientific information conflicting with certain Darwinian claims.

    What the DI does not explain in their letter is that teachers are already permitted to discuss any “scientific information” relevant to any subject in a science class. If there exists evidence – recognized by actual scientists – which challenges some aspect of current theory, teachers are welcome to bring it up. There is no need for an academic freedom bill to protect teachers from teaching actual science.

    So, it begs the question, what are these laws for if teachers already have academic freedom to teach their subject? No matter how much smoke the DI generates to conceal their purpose, the reason is abundantly clear to all, and will be clear to a judge if the act is ever challenged.

    This is a bit like voter ID laws to protect against non-existent in-person voter fraud, or TRAP laws to “protect women’s health” from virtually nonexistent risks.

    What is it about ideology that causes people to lie without shame?

  6. michaelfugate

    There is the Kentucky Viagra Law……

  7. Intelligent design is the scientific theory that some features of nature are best explained as the product of an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection.
    Once again.
    The most that they can bring themselves to claim is that there is a better explanation. They cannot say what that explanation might be.
    Once again they cannot identify what they believe without going negative.
    The fact is that no one has suggested positive alternative (other than, maybe the Omphalos Hypothesis?). They dare not alienate their boosters by saying When. They are too wishy-washy to say Who. And they haven’t the cleverness to suggest How, Where, Why.

  8. If they endorse the bill’s contents and its contents are sound, why would they care if some crazy legislator connects it with creationism? Surely a good law needn’t be withdrawn because one of its sponsors makes inaccurate comments about it.

    On the other hand, if the bill’s entire purpose is to sneak creationism into classrooms, your whole cover will be blown if anyone says the word “creationism” in public. Like cockroaches, the Discovery Institute’s work is best done in the dark, away from inquisitive eyes and ears.

  9. These people drivel on and on about “academic freedom,” by which they mean the freedom to attack Darwinian evolution — which, contrary to their claims, can be and has been “scientifically proven”as much as any such theory — and insert creationism, under whatever name, into public school science classes.

    What they really want is the “freedom” to undo the Supreme Court’s 1968 ruling in Epperson v.Arkansas, which declared laws which outright forbade the teaching of evolution to be unconstitutional.

  10. Techreseller

    Quack quack quack. Quack Quack Quack. Hmmm I hear a duck. Most likely this is a duck. QED