Archive for the ‘Discovery Institute’ Category

Discovery Institute Messes with Texas

June 8, 2011

Earlier today, the anti-evolution Discovery Institute — the Seattle-based outfit that promotes “intelligent design”/creationism and has tried for years to interject itself into science curriculum decisions in Texas — sent an email to members of the Texas State Board of Education weighing in on the proposed instructional materials up for adoption in Texas this summer. The email included a 71-page “evaluation” of the proposed curricular materials. The report is basically one long complaint that the instructional materials do not cover creationist-fabricated arguments against evolution (such as contrived conspiracy theories supposedly undermining the scientific record, long-ago-debunked nonsense about “irreducible complexity,” claims about gaps in the fossil record, etc.). From Discovery Institute’s document:

Unfortunately, as regards the TEKS that pertain to biology and evolution, only one of the proposed curricula (International Databases, LLC) makes any serious attempt to fulfill the call for meaningful critical analysis of biological and chemical evolution. The remaining curricula that were accessible online make no meaningful effort to satisfy the TEKS’ requirements that students “analyze and evaluate” neo-Darwinian evolution. [emphasis in original]

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Exposing the Discovery Institute

April 10, 2010

Among the most maddening things about the assault on science education — especially resistance to teaching public school students about evolution without watering it down with arguments rooted in junk science — is the rank dishonesty and religious bigotry that motivate anti-evolution extremists. In yet another excellent Huffington Post essay, Michael Zimmerman of the Clergy Letter Project calls out that kind of garbage coming from the anti-evolution Discovery Institute in Seattle.

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Hypocrisy and Faith-Bashing

March 29, 2009

Perhaps the anti-evolution pressure groups that led the attack on honest science in Texas think that no one was paying attention to their repulsive tactics. Well, we were.

In one of its scathing attacks on pro-science members of the Texas State Board of Education, the Discovery Institute is accusing board member Geraldine “Tincy” Miller of Dallas of dragging religion into the debate over evolution. The level of hypocrisy in that sneering attack is off the scale:

In defense of her views, Mrs. Miller launched into a remarkable speech about how she is a Christian and “a student of the Bible,” as if her personal religious beliefs have any relevance to what should be taught in science classes. . . . Once again, a defender of evolution has appealed to religion rather than science to justify his or her views. Mrs. Miller is certainly entitled to her religious views, but she wasn’t elected to serve on a state board of theology. While the government has a legitimate secular interest in teaching the science of evolution, it has no right whatever to try to dictate students’ theological beliefs about evolution, pro or con. The fact that evolution defenders can’t stick to science when justifying their censorship of the science curriculum is telling.

That’s rubbish.

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Whack!

February 19, 2009

January’s evolution show trial put on by the Texas State Board of Education gave the anti-evolution Discovery Institute a warm fuzzy because one of its co-founders got to share the stage with real scientists. (If you missed it, check out our live blogging that started here.) Because they can’t provide a shred of real scientific evidence to support their anti-evolution babble, the Disco folks try to set up “debates” in reputable venues just for the publicity. The Texas scientists who shared the microphone at the state board hearing didn’t have much choice — state board members had appointed them to a review panel that was part of the formal process for revising public school science curriculum standards.

But given a choice, most scientists aren’t willing to participate in a “debate” with folks from the Discovery Institute. Why? Because the Disco folks haven’t bothered to do the hard work of providing scientific evidence to support their positions. Now PZ Myers tells readers that the Discovery Institute recently asked a professor at the University of Vermont, Nicholas Gotelli, for a debate about evolution and “intelligent design” on his campus. In short, Prof. Gotelli’s answer was along the lines of “you’re joking, right?” You can read the whole delicious exchange for yourself, but here’s a taste of the professor’s stinging reply:

(I)sn’t it sort of pathetic that your large, well-funded institute must scrape around, panhandling for a seminar invitation at a little university in northern New England? Practicing scientists receive frequent invitations to speak in science departments around the world, often on controversial and novel topics. If creationists actually published some legitimate science, they would receive such invitations as well.

Ouch.

Summer Seminars in Pseudoscience

January 29, 2009

During last week’s public hearing on proposed science standards, evolution deniers on the Texas State Board of Education insisted that they had no intention of promoting “intelligent design”/creationism in public schools. Stephen Meyer, co-founder of the anti-evolution Discovery Institute in Seattle, echoed the claims of the board’s anti-science faction. They just want kids to learn “all of the evidence” about evolution, pro and con, we were told.

Oh, talk to the hand.

Why was Meyer invited to serve on a special science curriculum review panel and to speak at the hearing? It certainly wasn’t because of his science credentials — he’s not a research scientist.

Meyer was on the panel because the Discovery Institute is the biggest shill for “intelligent design,” which the Disco folks puff up as a “scientific” alternative to evolution. But because there isn’t a shred of real scientific evidence to support “intelligent design” (essentially creationism dressed up in a lab coat), the Disco Institute spends most of its time attacking evolution.

One of the ways it does this is by hosting “Summer Seminars” for college undergraduates and graduate students. This year’s seminars include “Intelligent Design in the Natural Sciences” and “Intelligent Design in the Social Sciences and Humanities.”

Past speakers have featured such luminaries in the scientific world as:

  • Meyer, co-founder of the Discovery Institute
  • Casey Luskin, a lawyer and Disco’s program officer in public policy and legal affairs
  • William Dembski, who holds doctorates in mathematics and philosophy and a master’s of divinity; served as the director of the short-lived Michael Polanyi Institute, which he described as an “intelligent design think tank” at Baylor University; currently serves on the faculty of the fundamentalist Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth
  • John West, who holds a doctorate in government, serves as associate director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture and vice president for public policy and legal affairs
  • Paul Nelson, who holds a doctorate in philosophy and is a fellow at the Discovery Institute
  • Bruce Gordon, doctorate in the philosophy of science, former associate director of the Polanyi Institute at Baylor, currently a research director at the Discovery Institute
  • Jonathan Witt, doctorate in English and currently a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute
  • Robert Marks, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Baylor

Yes, the list includes a smattering of folks who do have doctorates in research science, but accomplished research biologists they’re not. Of course, the Disco Institute also notes this about the seminars:

Each seminar will also include frank treatment of the academic realities that ID researchers confront in graduate school and beyond, and strategies for dealing with them.

Uh huh. We bet that means the anti-evolution movie “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” (click here and here) will be required viewing.

Please. The argument that teaching “weaknesses” of evolution in public schools has nothing to do with promoting “intelligent design”/creationism is a sham. Perpetuating that fraud is why creationists on the Texas state board put Meyer on the science curriculum review panel. It’s why they invited Meyer to speak to the board last week. And it’s why stopping this nonsense is one of the most important things all of us can do to promote a 21st-century science education for Texas students.

You can help. Click here to Stand Up for Science.