Discoveroids in the Wilderness

Days like this when there’s no creationism news are, as we’ve noted before, actually good news. It’s true that there are many creationists running around out there, and they provide people like ol’ Hambo with a good living. But there’s nothing new in that. There have always been creationists and those who exploit them.

The only important question is: Are creationists actually succeeding in shutting down science? The answer is no, of course not. There is controversy about climate science, but that’s not a creationist issue — it’s mostly about economic issues. Otherwise, science has never been stronger — at least in the civilized parts of the world. One of the best indicators of the actual situation is search engine statistics. We did this about nine months ago — see Intelligent Design — A Progress Report — and it’s time for another look.

Check out the history of Google searches on “intelligent design.” Go ahead, click on that link. The picture is striking. Interest in the Discovery Institute’s “theory” peaked during the Kitzmiller trial in 2005, and it’s been steadily trending downward ever since. It’s now 2% of what it was in December of 2005, and it would probably be lower if it weren’t for our own searches.

You’re familiar with the Discoveroids’ manifesto — the Wedge Document. That’s a link to the Wikipedia article which describes it. You can read the actual document at the NCSE website: The Wedge Document. It was drafted in 1995. Listed among their “Twenty Year Goals” is: “To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life.” Very ambitious, so they gave themselves twenty years to accomplish that goal.

More than twenty years have passed, and what do they have to show for all the millions they’ve spent, the books they’ve written, and the videos they’re always promoting? That’s right — a big, fat nothing. All of their goals have failed.

To be fair, we should mention their “accomplishments.” There are none in science, of course, but back in 2008 Louisiana’s Democrat controlled legislature overwhelmingly passed the misnamed Louisiana Science Education Act. It was based on the anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism Academic Freedom Act promoted by the Discovery Institute. We’ve critiqued their model bill here: Curmudgeon’s Guide to “Academic Freedom” Laws.

No other state has been so foolish, except for Tennessee. And that’s it. The Discoveroids have nothing else to brag about. That means we have a great deal to brag about.

So let’s have another Intellectual Free Fire Zone. Talk about whatever you think is interesting — science, politics, philosophy, etc. Banter, babble, bicker, bluster, blubber, blather, blab, blurt, burble, boast — say what you will. But beware of the profanity filters.

We now throw open the comments to you, dear reader. Have at it!

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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46 responses to “Discoveroids in the Wilderness

  1. Sunny the Soccer Cat is now in YellowVision

  2. Charles Deetz ;)

    The continued trend and battle for truth and rationality is with politics, and the Great Orange Liar. It is my blog reading, my podcasts. And I dare not say much on Facebook or my brainwashed IRL friends friendships will suffer. Who wants to argue about creation when the very fabric of society is threatened. It is exhausting, tho.

  3. Isn’t it illegal to use one forelimbs?

  4. Michael Fugate

    The DI seems to have regressed to the mean – now espousing mainstream creationism – not as nutty as some, but definitely Genesis 1 and 2, Adam and Eve – special creation of humans – is the flood and Ark far behind? the Tower of Babel?

  5. Ross Cameron

    Creos are like camels–they both regurgitate what they`ve swallowed.

  6. @TomS
    Not in Cat Soccer (Feline Football).
    The PreMeow League is interested in Sunny.

  7. @Michael Fugate
    I wonder how stultifying it must be to spend one’s intellectual life merely on denying something. Being careful not to appear religious by saying Who; or to alienate part of one’s constituency by saying When; while going along with the tradition of not saying What etc.

  8. “Being careful not to appear religious …”

    Reading the DI postings always results in quickly and clearly detecting that they are *really* bad at their intended deception! Stupid is as stupid does.

  9. This is a fine opportunity for some nostalgy.

    https://evolutionnews.org/2005/10/discovery_institute_s_wedge_document_how/

    Didn’t Klinkleclapper downplay the relevance of the Wedge Document quite a while ago? I can’t refind it.

    @TomS: I’ve consulted The Laws of the Game as published by KNVB (Royal Dutch Football Association).

    https://www.knvb.nl/downloads/bestand/4841/spelregels-veldvoetbal-versie-13-juli-2016

    Page 45: “Hands houdt in, dat de speler de bal opzettelijk met de hand of arm speelt/raakt.”
    Original and official English version:

    “Handling the ball involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with the hand or arm.” (IFAB)
    As everybody knows cats don’t have hands nor arms, only legs. Sunny doesn’t commit a foul.

  10. Charles Deetz I share your pain and exhaustion.I just read that Dennison is the first president since 1941 not to have a science advisor. He thinks he can decide anything on instinct. Facts and truth don’t matter to him.

  11. GretaCyclamen

    By linking directly to the Wedge Document, you lend authority to it in search rankings. Likewise with the biographies, blog posts and other creationist content you link to. They may be doing poorly in the numbers of actual search queries, but when the queries occur, you’re contributing to the ranking of their content as opposed to any rebuttals or valid science.

  12. GretaCyclamen

    PS mostly OK to link to creationist content from below the line. This doesn’t lend link juice in the way links in the article body do.

  13. Mark Germano

    You can’t expect cats to follow the rules of any game. So many of them are cheetahs.

  14. How do I do a google hit history search? I’d like to do one on Glasgow’s own Centre [sic; correct UK spelling] for Intelligent Design, with which I’ve crossed swords.

    But I’d point out that the function of ID is not really to provide an intellectually respectable version of creationism, but to allow bible-thumpers to tel each other that such a version exists.

  15. FrankB says: “Didn’t Klinkleclapper downplay the relevance of the Wedge Document quite a while ago? I can’t refind it.”

    There’s a link to it in this old post: Discovery Institute: The Wedge Document, So What?

  16. @Paul Breterman
    I would expect Google would correct any search of mine, as coming from USA, for “Centre” to “center”, and ignore capitalization.

  17. @SC: no, that’s not the one I was thinking of. Maybe my memory deceived me once again; it wouldn’t be the first time.

    @GC: it’s a good thing to link at the Wedge Document. Not enough people are aware of it and how it admits that IDiocy is antiscientific, despite all the attempts to deny so. The introduction is umambiguous:

    “raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature.”
    This is a plain rejection of methodlogical naturalism, which is the synonym of the scientific method. The simple fact that the IDiots from Seattle remain silent on it most of the time and try to downplay it when they feel forced to talk about it speaks volumes. It embarrasses them. So it’s a good thing to remind them of it as often as appropriate. I wish I learned about it several years earlier.

  18. @TomS, “Centre for Intelligent Design”, with quotation marks, should do it. These days I generally use duckduckgo, which doesn’t sell my history, but it’s got to be Google for the metrics I’m after

  19. @PB
    I tried that, and to my surprise, it worked. I don’t know why. Is it that I used double-quote marks? Thank you. I have been asking for years about my difficulties.

  20. @Frank B
    rejection of methodological naturalism
    Precisely. Rejection. Not proposing an alternative.
    If they had someting to work with which had possibilities, then there might be someting worth discussing.
    (I’m not saying “better”. It might be imcomparable. Or even a temporary step backwards, with promise for the future.)
    If they had an aternative, then we might want to work with their supposed faults in evolutionary biology: (“Your discussion of ‘Conservation of Complex Specified Information’ is confused, but maybe there is an issue that it exposes – if only there were a positive point to it.”)

  21. That article at evolutionnews.org, written by a Robert Crowther, mentions the DI’s nemesis, Barbara Forrest. Forrest stands to the DI as Bram van Helsing stands to count Dracula, in the scene where the former opens a curtain and the latter crumbles into smoke and ashes.

    Now I’m in analogy mode, ID is like an inflatable mattress with a leak in it: it never loses all the air completely, but you can’t sleep on it either, so it just takes up space being useless.

    Add your own bizarre comparisons here!

  22. Michael Fugate

    The DI minions see evolution as the Wicked Witch of the West and themselves as Dorothy with a bucket, but in the ID version they keep throwing something other than water or if they do throw water they only drench themselves.

  23. Karl Goldsmith (@KarlGoldsmith)

    So the date on that wedge link (October 2005) has them denying it says what it does, in the midde of the Dover trial. If we are denying we are creationists in court, had we better not deny we are creationists on our website.

  24. @Draken
    I have wondered for years about an analogy with creationism, and this just occurred to me.

    Professonal wrestling.

    Unlike creationism, it is true, there are rules to professional wrestling, but they are ignored.

  25. @Draken, mention also to Mark Isaak, author of The Cunter-Creationism Handbook, and of the related http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html index of creationist claims, with counter-arguments

  26. And of course TalkReason.

    http://www.talkreason.org/

    It has a few excellent articles on Information Theory (and why the IDiot version is BS).

  27. Paul, nice typo that slithered through the curmudgeonly filters there! Close to the Scottish pronunciation of “counter”, I suppose?

  28. Michael Fugate

    Feckless?

  29. @Draken, I’m deeply ashamed of myself. Whatever could I have been thinking of?

  30. Sunny does not cheat. He pays close attention and follows the rules I teach him. Oh occasionally he does rub against and push a side of the cardboard goal outward (to make the target bigger?), and has pushed the crinkle tube too (to make the field wider?), but those are probably just normal cat behaviors, or are they?

  31. What am I missing? Paul’s comment shows as ‘counter’ on page. Did our host correct it?

  32. Douglas e, it does now. Don’t ask what it showed earlier

  33. I think my intuitive filter knows! 🙂

  34. I didn’t change anything.

  35. Did the almighty hand from above miss a typo?
    Or is Paul Braterman’s post about “Creationism handbook” by Mark Isaak have proper name in the title?

  36. I just checked. My typo still stands, naked and ashamed, in the title of the work, while the word is decently correct in my description of the piece a little later. So let it remain!

  37. Ooo, I indeed missed the Samantha-Bee-esque typo. I will have to get my hands on that handbook!

  38. Tomorrow the Vice-President will address the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. Those of us who may sometimes hope for an end to our current President’s reign by resignation or impeachment should pay careful attention, as I fear an appropriate analogy would be hoping Bozo the Clown would move out of your spare room so Ken Ham can move in.

  39. SKMarshall, point well taken. Pence has clearly stated his views (evolution is only a theory, as is creationism, so both should be taught) in his speech on the subject playing down the significance of Sahelanthropus, which are quoted in full here: https://paulbraterman.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/sahelanthropus-evolution-and-the-word-theory-what-mike-pence-really-said/

  40. GretaCyclamen

    @FrankB Point taken about their trying in court to row back from the terms of the WD. But my point is a general one about giving creationist sources free SEO (Search Engine Optimization, for those not in the web industry.)

  41. Excellent analysis of Pence’ dishonesty, PaulB. I might quibble a bit about issues regarding philosophy of science. For instance I do strictly separate theory and fact. Evolution is neither; it’s an abstract concept, like gravity and electricity (it’s fun to point this out to creacrappers) used in a theory to correctly describe a wide range of empirical data (ie facts). However that doesn’t take anything away from your criticism (rather an euphemism; annihiliation might be more appropriate). So I can only add.

    “Theory of evolution”
    “Theory of design”.
    False equivocation. As TomS never gets tired to point out (ad nauseam, likely, but totally correct) design as a “concept” is a failure.

    “theories about the unknowable”
    This is an open rejection of Evolution Theory. It does yield scientific knowledge. Creacrap does not.

    “rational analysis is beside the point”
    Almost by definition. The core of every single version of creacrap (and lots of apologetics) is this contradiction: reject rationality as represented by the scientific method and pretend that it’s rational. This is what provides us with all the fun on this fine blog. Pence’ usage of

    “the theories about the unknowable”
    and “we will find the truth”
    demonstrates that even skillfull rhetorians tend to commit stupidities. Of course a mind-numbed audience won’t notice anymore at the end of such a speech.
    Finally I’d like to point out that Pence not only uses “theory” in an ambiguous way, but also “truth”. Sometimes it means “100% absolute never changing certainty”, sometimes “highly probably correct”.
    Again, this only is meant to add, not to criticize (you). This is the one and only positive aspect of creacrap. It provides an excellent training ground to trace down logical fallacies and other falsehoods. Pence’ speech could be used as an introduction of a class logical arguing or something similar. Task for the newbie students: point out as many errors as you can in fifteen minutes. Consulting internet is permitted.

  42. @FrankB
    First of all, thank you. I accept the “ad nauseam”.
    But I differ about evolution. Evolution is a process. something which can be observed happening in the world of life. The theory of evolution is a theory about the process. Just as the theory of flight, the theory of the Earth, the theory of D.C. circuits are theories about realities.

  43. Thanks, FrankB. I would only add that Pence carefully avoids telling us what it is that he actually believes. Old Earth creationism, or young Earth creationism, or even, at a stretch, divinely guided evolution? and he certainly doesn’t tell us what the content would be of what he would like to see taught alongside evolution.

    TomS, evolution is a process. Our study of evolution is a research programme, of which the theory of evolution current at any particular time is just a stage. (You will recognise this as straight out of Lakatos). I spell out this position at https://theconversation.com/black-swans-and-other-deviations-like-evolution-all-scientific-theories-are-a-work-in-progress-95544 which made it into PhysOrg

  44. @TomS: “But I differ about evolution.”
    That’s OK – it’s nothing but a semantic issue.

    “Evolution is a process. something which can be observed happening in the world of life.”
    I have a stricter understanding of “observing”. What we observe are things like speciation, fossils and mutations.

  45. We observe:
    Evolution of resistence in pathogens and pests
    E. coli long-term evolution experiment
    Evolution of Darwin’s finches on the Galapagos
    Evolution of domestication of foxes
    Evolution of speciation
    etc., etc.

  46. Let me explain myself a little bit more.
    I am saying that evolution is the sort of thing which can be observed. It is a process which happens in the world of life. Like birth and death, growth and metabolism, flying and eating.
    I realize that some people will say that we can’t directly see evolution happening among the fossils, that we only infer that it happened. But that is irrelevant. I am not saying that every instance of evolution happening has been observed. We can’t directly observe that there was flying and eating among the fossilized animals. But swimming and eating is the sort of thing that can be observed.
    It would be a mistake to say that flying is a theory, just because there are owls flying in the dark, or bats flying in a cave, or insects flying in the jungle wwhere no one is observing them. When we speak of “the theory of flight”, we are not saying that flight is only a theory.

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