Friday, July 07, 2006

Disco makes a comeback: Discovery Institute to take to the airwaves

The Discovery Institute declares that they might take out radio ads to tout the science standards rejected by the science standards subcommittee.

They claim that the standards ultimately approved by the science standards subcommittee, a body of scientists, science teachers, parents and education experts appointed by the Board, would be "dogmatic, Darwin-only science standards," and that they are standing for "teaching both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution."

That's a fairly silly claim, undermined entirely by the bulk of the testimony offered by Disco's advocates a year ago in Topeka. They didn't just talk about what they think are weaknesses in evolution, they talked about how these allegations provide support for ID.

This seems to put them in a really odd bind. They are simultaneously claiming that the standards don't contain ID, but Disco exists to promote ID. If the standards really aren't ID, why do they care?

Of course, these days the DI likes to pretend that they only want to teach the controversy that they invented. But the record is less clear. In the midst of the Dover trial, which Disco's advocates tried to pull out of when it was clear that the ship was sinking, DI spokesman Mark Ryland and Dover defense attorney Richard Thompson addressed the American Enterprise Institute. Thompson, of the Thomas More Legal Center responded to Ryland's claim that "The Discovery Institute never set out to have a school board, schools, get into this issue."
[Disco Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture Director Meyer and Disco Fellow David DeWolf] wrote a book, titled "Intelligent Design in Public School Science Curricula." The conclusion of that book was that, um:

"Moreover, as the previous discussion demonstrates, school boards have the authority to permit, and even encourage, teaching about design theory as an alternative to Darwinian evolution -- and this includes the use of textbooks such as Of Pandas and People that present evidence for the theory of intelligent design." ...and I could go further. But, you had Discovery Institute people actually encouraging the teaching of intelligent design in public school systems. Now, whether they wanted the school boards to teach intelligent design or mention it, certainly when you start putting it in writing, that writing does have consequences.
Yes sir, whether it's the words above or the words to "Electric Bugaloo" words mean things, and Disco needs to remember that. When they say that "What ID theorists want is to teach the problems with Darwinian evolution," it makes it sound like that's what ID consists of. And that's what the Kansas school board offered.

Petty, false criticisms directed at undermining evolution per se are one of the many things that the Supreme Court has held to be unconstitutional. Among the evidence that Judge Jones used to rule against the Dover school board's dictates, we find that the acts were invalid because "the Dover School Board singles out the scientific theory of evolution, specifically and repeatedly targeting it as a 'theory' with '[g]aps,' 'problems,' and inadequate empirical support." Creationists in Ohio and Michigan have attempted to blunt their religious motives for attacking evolution by tossing climate science under the wheels. It's doubtful that such attempts will succeed, but it shows that this aspect of the standards is under inevitable scrutiny as inherently creationist.

A recent exchange between Jack Krebs, president of Kansas Citizens for Science, and John Calvert of ID Net shows the difference in approaches between science advocates and enemies of science. The creationists added a section to the standards about origins of life, just so that they could introduce criticisms. But Krebs (also a member of the science standards subcommittee) explained that: "How life began is not well known and, therefore, in the good standards we do not mention the origins of life."

Speaking of other criticisms inserted into the standards, Krebs points out that "This is part of their strategy. It is interesting science, but what they want to do is cast doubt … They want to say science is changing or has incomplete knowledge to imply that there must have been divine steps."

Don't by the spin. Disco went out of fashion a long time ago, and so did the Disco Inst. Tell them to Go Home.