Klinghoffer: How To Spot Fake Science News

A fabulous gem of mind-warping misinformation has appeared at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog: Ten Tips for Spotting Fake Science News on Evolution. 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. We’ll give you a few excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis.

He begins by discussing someone who “offers smart tips on spotting fake science news,” and says:

[W]hen it comes to the ID [intelligent design] debate, these journalists often seem to have done little more than scan the Wikipedia article, a disinformation hatchet job.

The Discoveroids have been frustrated for years because they’ve been unable to convert Wikipedia into a creationist website — see Casey: Wikipedia Is Unfair about Intelligent Design. Then Klinghoffer says:

I’d add a few red flags of my own. Not any journalist who commits one or more of the following is guilty of spreading fake news, but these are things to watch for:

Before we look at Klinghoffer’s list, we’ll remind you of something we wrote back in 2008, the first year of this humble blog: Discovery Institute: Their Own Version of Newspeak, in which we discussed the Discoveroids’ specialized vocabulary for attacking science in general and evolution in particular.

Okay, dear reader, now the fun begins. In accusing journalists of writing fake science news, Klinghoffer is using a primitive rhetorical device with a fine Latin name: tu quoque, which means “you too!” It’s commonly encountered on the school playground, where young children respond to insults by saying: I’m not a poop-head; you’re a poop-head! That’s usually followed up with Nyaaa, nyaaaa, nyaaaaaaaaa! Here’s Klinghoffer’s list:

1. The article discusses “evolution” without defining it.

2. The article discusses “creationism” without defining it.

3. The article discusses “intelligent design” without defining it, or without defining the idea as its own proponents do.

4. The article conflates intelligent design with creationism in a phrase like “Intelligent Design Creationism.”

Obviously, Klinghoffer wants “good” journalists to define “evolution” as some kind of Satanic, materialist, Hitlerian dogma, while defining “intelligent design” as a splendid scientific theory supported by oodles of solid research, which — of course! — has nothing whatsoever to do with bible-based creationism. That is, a “good” journalist is one who accepts the Discoveroids’ upside-down universe as the real one. Here’s more of Klinghoffer’s list:

5. The article uses scare terms like “anti-science” or “science denial” as an excuse for not engaging with ideas the writer doesn’t like or hasn’t bothered to research.

6. The article engages in personal attacks or … “inflammatory language”: “crank, quack, nutty, lies, paranoid, pseudo, and conspiracy.”

It’s difficult to write about creationists’ ongoing war against science without using such terms. The list continues:

7. The article uses instances of trivial microevolution to extrapolate as a freebee to macroevolution, i.e., major innovations in the history of life. A current favorite is antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

8. The article credulously invokes what Jonathan Wells calls icons of evolution, from peppered moths, Miller-Urey, and Darwin’s finches to the myth of how “99 percent of our DNA is identical to that of chimpanzees,” or whales as the “sweetest series of transitional fossils an evolutionist could ever hope to find,” and the like.

In other words, any article that references actual evidence for evolution, and doesn’t do the micro-macro mambo (defined in Common Creationist Claims Confuted) is promoting fake science. Let’s read on:

9. The article presents academic freedom legislation as an attempt to “teach creationism” in the schools.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! And here comes number ten:

The article takes aim at ideas associated with prominent ID proponents without naming them or citing their terminology.

Why should science journalists bother to publicize creationists, or adopt creationists’ Orwellian terminology? Then Klinghoffer babbles that “fake news in defense of Darwinism has pervasive influence,” because of “the power of the prestige media, academia, and U.S. federal funding,” and he finishes with this:

Which is why at Evolution News [the Discoveroids’ creationist blog] we have our work cut out for us.

Yes, the Discoveroids have their work cut out for them. And what, exactly, is their work? We explained that when we started this blog — see Discovery Institute: Enemies of the Enlightenment.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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22 responses to “Klinghoffer: How To Spot Fake Science News

  1. The definition-of-terms game is made to order for the DI’s demagogues. Unless you define terms like “evolution,” “intelligent design,” “creationism” and “academic freedom” as they do, you’re being “unfair,” if not worse. Essentially, they’re demanding that their opponents concede victory to them simply by definition. Not that this is rigging the debate or anything, heavens no!

  2. Charles Deetz ;)

    The purloining of ‘fake news’ by the right to include any perceived bias is itself a miscarriage, regardless of the details of Klingy’s ten edicts. What do we call fake things any more?

  3. Michael Fugate

    The easiest way to spot fake science is to check if the article was written by Klinghoffer or anyone else at the DI, AiG, ICR, etc.

  4. He seems to have forgotten #11: “The article discusses or examines evidence. Science is based on intuition, so evidence is irrelevant and unbiblic… err… biased.”

  5. I sympathize with the problem of referring to “intelligent design creationism.” It’s more precise to say “intelligent design creationism pseudoscience.”

  6. Holding the Line in Florida

    SC you should have advised prior to reading, “Put on the Hip Waders Lads and Lassies! It is going to get really deep here!.” Such balderdash! I particularly like number 3. “The article discusses “intelligent design” without defining it, or without defining the idea as its own proponents do.” Sorta of hard to do, since they can’t even do that!

  7. 4. The article conflates intelligent design with creationism in a phrase like “Intelligent Design Creationism.”

    Kling misses the point here. For journalists and other writers it is important to distinguish between something that is intelligently designed, such as a car or a computer, and the religious belief the natural world is designed, or more properly, “created,” by a supernatural entity. The first type of ID is done routinely in large and small ways by ordinary people. There is no known evidence that the second type, or ID Creationism, has ever happened.

  8. Ah, Kling: the a science faker tells the world how to spot fake science news! He has no mirrors.

  9. @Ed
    I recommend the 1852 essay by Herbert Spencer, “The Development Hypothesis”

  10. He violates rules #1, 2, and 6 regularly.

    Also, for any cdesign proponentists reading this, when asked what the strengths of evolution are, you can’t use antibiotic resistance anymore, because Klinghoffer says it’s trivial. Oh, hey, KevinC! Didn’t see you there.

  11. “The easiest way to spot fake science is to check if the article was written by Klinghoffer or anyone else at the DI, AiG, ICR, etc.”

    Too narrow; you left out the myriad of AGW denialist organizations, some of which even overlap your list.

  12. The article discusses “evolution” without defining it.

    It’s Kent Hovind.

  13. Dave Luckett

    It has always astonished me that the DI can get away without answering a simple question: “What exactly is the theory of intelligent design? That is, what action or actions, by what means, at what time, with what result, was done by what designer?”

    The question “How do you know this?” follows – but until there is some coherent statement of what they are actually proposing, it is not necessary to ask it. Without such a statement, there is no theory of “intelligent design”.

  14. @Dave Luckett

  15. It has always astonished me that the DI can get away without answering a simple question: “What exactly is the theory of intelligent design?

    This has been the problem all along. When asked what an “intelligent design creationist” would teach in a classroom there is no “intelligent design creationism” and a whole bunch of criticism of evolution. Even on the former “intelligent design creationist” “theorist,” Willie Dr. Dr. Dembski, who has since abandoned the movement, admitted there was nothing to teach, no real theory, only a vague notion.

    When push comes to shove “intelligent design creationism” is all smoke and mirrors, a bunch of bafflegab smothered in balderdash with a healthy shake of argle bargle.

  16. There IS no “Theory of Intelligent Design”. Never was; never will be. It was all just a ruse to get around a Supreme Court ruling and sneak creationism into the public classroom.

    Klinghoffer knows this full well, but he’s being paid to say otherwise. He’s prostituting his creative writing talents. (Reminds me a bit of Sean Spicer. Speaking of whom — I wonder how long that poor schmuck is going to last?)

  17. Klinghoffer misquotes Wells! I just checked my copy; Wells says nothing about whale evolution, nor about the resemblance between human and chimpanzee DNA.

    Wells’s account of the peppered moth affair is an essay in calumny and misdirection,, and the questions quite correctly asked about the original work had been long since refuted, to the point where Wells’s account is reduced to a conspiracy theory; I have described this elsewhere:https://paulbraterman.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/creationism-as-conspiracy-theory-the-case-of-the-peppered-moth/

    But Wells is actually quite right in attacking the textbook myths that Darwin’s finches played a large role in Darwin’s formulation of evolution, and that the Urey-Miller experiment solves the problem of the origin of life. The former myth persists, although the latter has now, fortunately, dropped out of the textbooks. I think there is a message here for us. We spend a lot of time here congratulating each other on how effectively we can sneer at the (admittedly sneerworthy) antics of creationists. But a sweeter revenge than merely sneering is to learn something from them, and as these two examples show, there is sometimes something of importance to be learnt.

    One final irony: Klinghoffer rejects as irrelevant the evolution of resistance by bacteria, while citing Jonathan Wells’s thoroughly discredited attacks on accounts of evolution in the peppered moth and in Darwin’s finches. But if we accept his distinction between micro- and macroevolution, both of these are equally irrelevant anyway.

  18. @Paul Bratermann
    As long as the creationists embrace micro-evolution within “kinds”, there is no point in any of their arguments which are against micro-evolution within a kind. A “kind” being something larger than a species or genus, maybe something like a taxonomic family. Thus Darwin’s finches, peppered moth, and speciation are not points of contention.
    In particular, as long as they embrace micro-evolution within kinds, anything which they say about the evil consequences of “believing” that there is micro-evolution within “mankind” applies as much to the creationists.

  19. Exactly. Which is why their campaign against Kettlewell’s peppered moth work (defective, but the defects long since corrected by Majerus), and against the historical importance incorrectly attached to Darwin’s finches, is absurd; attacks against claimed instances of a phenomenon, evolution within a kind, * which they themselves accept.*

  20. Michael Fugate

    Wells’ premise for “Icons” was that textbooks should depict the quintessence of any scholarly field and if they were wrong the field was wrong. It was bogus from the start, but I am sure he knew that.

  21. @TomS : “I recommend the 1852 essay by Herbert Spencer, ‘The Development Hypothesis'”

    Thanks for the link, very interesting. Spencer says (amid lots of other stuff)

    A little careful introspection will show them that they have never yet realized to themselves the creation of even one species. If they have formed a definite conception of the process, they will be able to answer such questions as — How is a new species constructed? and How does it make its appearance? Is it thrown down from the clouds? or must we hold to the notion that it struggles up out of the ground? Do its limbs and viscera rush together from all the points of the compass? or must we receive some such old Hebrew notion as, that God goes into a forest-cavern, and there takes clay and moulds a new creature? If they say that a new creature is produced in none of these modes, which are too absurd to be believed, then they are required to describe the mode in which a new creature may be produced — a mode which does not seem absurd; and such a mode they will find that they neither have conceived nor can conceive.

    I can however conceive a better means of special creation of a new species. Rather than, “God goes into a forest-cavern, and there takes clay and moulds a new creature”, let God take, for example, any monkey into a forest-cavern, and there put it into a deep sleep, shorten its tail, shave most of its hair, enlarge its thumbs and do a few other tweaks, and voila!, Eve or Adam! Process another monkey similarly: Adam and Eve. Wake them up and watch them go.
    Surely this is much more like ID than anything Spencer conceived of.