Thursday, October 10, 2013

John G. West Speaks Out Against Using Derogatory Labels to Describe Your Opponents

John G. West is Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs of the Center for Science and Culture (CSC)—the most important Intelligent Design Creationism propaganda organization. He is upset because some reporters describe Intelligent Design Creationism as a form of creationism. I've taken an excerpt from his post at Attempting to Win the Debate over Intelligent Design through Stereotyping and changed just a few words so you can get the gist of his argument.
The really discouraging thing here is not that some reporters are critical of evolution. It is that so many of them apparently see nothing wrong with preventing evolutionary biologists from defining their own position. This is a very strange way to do journalism, and if journalists started to apply their approach to evolution to other topics, I think it would become manifestly clear how unfair it is. Imagine, for example, a journalist deciding to use "Marxist" as a neutral label for President Obama based on the views of certain right-wing academics and political activists. Would that be regarded as fair or impartial by most journalists? Of course not. What if a reporter redefined Marxist to mean anyone who supports more active government? Would that make applying the term to Obama in a news story more defensible? Hardly. Yet when reporters label evolutionary biologists as "Darwinists," they are essentially doing the same thing.

What is really going on here is censorship. When reporters use as a "neutral" description of evolution a polemical smear invented by its critics, they are effectively silencing evolutionary biologists by not allowing them to speak for themselves. They are poisoning the well so no one will be willing to listen to the actual views expressed by evolutionary biologists. Journalists who write about evolution should re-read the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics, especially the provisions calling for them to "Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant" and to "Give voice to the voiceless...."

Whatever a news reporter's views on evolution, he or she has a professional duty not to simply spread stereotypes and caricatures. That duty means nothing if it only applies to news coverage of groups and positions with which the reporter agrees. The real test of fairness for reporters is how they treat those with whom they disagree. When it comes to evolution, sadly, many reporters are failing the test.


34 comments :

  1. Thank you. Your amendments make the point very will.

    ReplyDelete
  2. of ID is about a intelligent designer then its creationism. A creator created the complexity in the universe that can't be reduced to a managable level where chance can bring our results.
    Creationism is a ancient belief for all mankind, all Christiandiom, and especially in a very Protestant British civilization.
    Its well founded in numbers and thinkers for centuries and today.
    Nothing wrong with creationism(s)
    When reporters call ID creationism its working well with most North Americans.
    Never mind tiny numbers of eggheads who are not familiar with the subject anyway.
    Keep calling ID creationism. Thats what it is and the circles they move in however segregated..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh sure, the world thinks Beat poet Richard Brautigan killed himself in Bolinas in 1984. But now we know he faked his death. He created a new identity as a "Canadian" "Creationist", but he tipped us off to his real identity-- by keeping the same initials!

      Here, at long last, is a poem originally intended to appear in The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster, but lost for 44 years, and which has finally come to light:

      "Keep calling ID creationism. Thats what it is"
      By Richard Brautigan/"Robert Byers"

      of ID is about a intelligent designer
      then its creationism.

      A creator created
      the complexity in the universe
      that can't be reduced to a managable level
      where chance can bring
      our results.

      Creationism is
      a ancient belief for all mankind,
      all Christiandiom, and especially
      in a very Protestant British civilization.

      Its well founded
      in numbers
      and thinkers
      for centuries
      and today.

      Nothing wrong with creationism(s)

      When reporters call ID creationism
      its working well with most North Americans.

      Never mind
      tiny numbers of eggheads
      who are not familiar
      with the subject anyway.

      Keep calling ID creationism.
      Thats what it is

      Delete
    2. Diogenes, much as I admire your detective work and the spectacular exposure of RB's true identity, I have a few technical doubts concerning your reconstruction of verse divisions. A poet of this format would not have used the indefinite article a before a vowel without a reason. In high poetry, there is no junk; everything has a function, even the misspelling of Christendiom (although we may fail to understand its full significance at present). I therefore propose that the poet's intended division was this:

      Creationism is a ... [long, long pause] ...
      ancient belief for all mankind,
      all Christiandiom, and especially
      in a very Protestant British civilization.


      The elegant alliteration of ancient and all -- a subtle allusion to time-sanctioned Anglo-Saxon values (reinforced in the powerfully alliterative penultimate line) -- is clinching evidence of the correctness of my analysis. Sorry to be a nitpicker, but it's the work of a master, and no detail is insignificant.

      Delete
    3. Other than the claims that there is "nothing wrong" with creationism, and that it has historically been more prevalent in "very Protestant British civilization", I think Mr. Byers is right on the money here: ID is creationism. Do you try to make this point at Uncommon Descent and other ID creationist forums, Robert? Because, as you know, most ID creationists do not understand your point.

      Delete
    4. No problem. I leave him and his dickinson to your gentle surgery.

      Delete
    5. lutesuite.
      Yes if the point comes up, THE equation that creationism is about a creator, a thinking being, having done some, most, all, of creation demands one is a creationist if one is advocating those conclusions.
      Its a simple idea after all.
      The ID people shrink from YEC historical creationism.
      Somebody said we were wrong and in these circles its caught on to think so.
      Then some do sincerely insist that their just talking about basic design and no creator is relevant even if a conclusion is made a creator must of done the design.
      Some also just say evolution is wrong with no interest in a creator. Just opposed to a particular mechanism claimed to be happening.
      Its all about whether a thinking being , not human, created this or that in the universe. The creator is the mechanism and not nature in whole or part.
      A ID thinker must settle whether their research is NOT leading to this conclusion if they want not to be called a creationist.

      Delete
  3. West makes some highly disingenuous claims.

    1) "defending a literal reading of the Genesis account" is clearly Young Earth Creationism. Old Earth Creationism does not do so.

    2) His pseudoquote of Numbers is actually a decade-old AP wording not Numbers own words, which most probably does not accurately reflect Numbers views, given that he subtitled the expanded version of 'The Creationists' as "From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design".

    3) Labeling Numbers as "anti-ID" would appear to be inaccurate, given he concentrates on documenting creationism, not criticising it.

    4) The DI may "support" a very few "scientists", but mainly supports philosophers, lawyers, theologians, journalists, PoliSci majors and the like.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh no, all of their godwinning, claims that good science is a scam to support atheism, and distortions of science aren't paying off.

    Meanwhile, the truth comes out about ID's fraudulent practices.

    And West whines about such "unfairness."

    Say West, if you're not a lying propaganda outfit, why don't you do tests of an honest ID hypothesis? Yes, that's right, because there is none, at least none being pushed by the DI and like scammers.

    Glen Davidson

    ReplyDelete
  5. I would have thought creationists would be proud to be labeled creationist. But the word has had a lot of (deserved) bad press, so now they are complaining about people using it, that it is a slur.

    I know an Episcopalian priest who is an outspoken defender of evolutionary biology (he has a Ph.D. in molecular evolution). When I would talk to him and complain about "creationists" he used to proudly say that he was a creationist, because he believed that the Universe was created by God; that these people I was complaining about should be described as believing in special creation.

    Lately I notice he has stopped calling himself a creationist -- the word simply has too much bad karma (sorry for mixing religions). It has come to mean people who believe in special creation, and they have earned a lot of bad press.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I understand that some people in the United Sates have come to associate the word "creationist" with "Young Earth Creationist." I don't experience that association in my country and I don't think it's common in other countries. There doesn't seem to be a logical reason why I should have to adopt a definition that's peculiar to just part of one foreign country [see Creationism].

      Delete
    2. I have been thinking about that since a buddy at work told me he is not a creationist and I know he is a Christian; or he believes in Christ. Creationism has a bad wrap because of YEC, I think.

      Delete
    3. And here I thought that creationism has a bad "wrap" because it's shit made up by con artists.

      Delete
    4. It's associated because that's the commonly encountered sort. But I think even those who use the word that way would agree that old-earth creationists also count. I would contend that the essential feature, if we're talking technically here, is separate poofing of at least several "kinds" into existence. If you claim only that Jesus causes particular mutations, you aren't a technical creationist.

      Then again, creationism isn't a technical thing; it's a political/religious one. If you associate with the creationist movement, you're a creationist. If you don't, you aren't. That's why Michael Behe is a creationist but Francis Collins and Ken Miller aren't, even though they all believe in some kind of divine tweaking (not to be confused with divine twerking), and Behe does not (apparently) believe in separate poofing. They also divide based on the amount of tweaking they think is present, but that's secondary.

      Delete
    5. Steve, If I were you I would keep it really lowball here... You have no arguments, and I didn't see you jumping in to answer my longstanding question about the origin of life....Don't tell me you haven't seen it... Can you explain how a nucleotide appeared in the primordial soup? I don't think so.. Even Larry thinks it is not possible... So? What are you going to rely on? You have no faith....

      Delete
    6. John, I have to disagree with you. Behe does not claim to be a creationist; I know it. Trust me!!! He would rather be called an ID advocate. I disagree with him on some issues; not because I'm right and he is wrong. There are few philosophical issues I'm not comfortable with but they are very minor...

      Delete
    7. The Discovery Institute has changed their definition of "creationism" (as well as their definition of ID) and has attempted to erase all historical evidence of their previous works, which were more explicitly creationist and religious. Basically they lie about their own history; so let's set it straight.

      Larry: "I understand that some people in the United Sates have come to associate the word "creationist" with "Young Earth Creationist."

      No. What is relevant here is that the ID proponents changed the definition of "creationism" that they themselves used (along with everyone else) about 2002(?) so that thereafter, they defined it as being equal to what was formerly called Biblical Young Earth creationism.

      In fact, from about 1970 to 1990's the important distinction made was between "scientific creationism" vs. "biblical creationism." Scientific creationism, as defined by Henry Morris and the ICR, and as pushed in legal moves by Wendell Bird arguing before SCOTUS, was defined as strictly scientific and non-religious and did not claim it was based on the Bible (sound familiar!?) It was Biblical creationism, which had much the same content as scientific creationism, but which admitted it started from the religious belief that the Bible was true.

      The IDiots' pre-2002 definition of creationism was consistent with "scientific creationism" as defined by Morris et al. We know exactly how ID proponents defined it then because we have their books and articles and their definitions were clear. Prior to 2002, the definition of creationism used by the Discovery Institute Fellows themselves was different and much broader than the DI's current definition-- the IDiots in the 90's defined "creationism" so broadly so as to include most of the general public, thus making "creationism" seem harmless.

      But the pre-2002 definition of "creationism" used by the IDiots themselves was also broad enough to include them, that is, "creationism" then was equivalent to, or a superset of, Intelligent Design as defined then and now. Under this definition, pre-2002 ID was (usually) presented as a subset of "creationism" as they defined it-- specifically, ID was the scientifically valid subset of "creationism."

      It's not really true that (as evolutionists often claim) that IDers stopped calling themselves "creationists" overnight with the 1987 Edwards vs. Aguillard SCOTUS ruling. In fact, most of the DI Fellows defined ID as a subset of creationism and called themselves (or each other) creationist until at least 1998(?).

      But about 2002(?), the IDers re-defined "creationism" much more narrowly so as to exclude their post-2002 definition of Intelligent Design (though certainly several DI Fellows actually are Biblical Young Earth creationists.) This meant that ID and "creationism" became non-overlapping sets. This also meant that they had to falsify the history of their movement, and squelch or suppress many of their own writings.

      Let's go back to real history. This is from Tom McIver's 1989 doctoral thesis on the anthropology of creationism.

      McIver, 1989: "Very many creationists today (especially the most politically active) insist that there is an important distinction between “scientific creationism” and “biblical creationism”—though both, they maintain, are completely consistent with each other, and both are equally true. “Scientific creationism” (the argument goes) consists of non-religious scientific evidence against evolution, which thus supports creationism. “Biblical creationism” is creationism which openly retains its religious origins; it consists of arguments against evolution based on a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible." [Tom McIver. Creationism: Intellectual Origins, Cultural Context, and Theoretical Diversity. (1989)]

      Delete
    8. This distinction started about 1970 as a result of legal defeats in wars initiated by the Segrave family over textbooks in California [Ronald Numbers, The Creationists, p. 271]. Creationism had to have a "Christianity module" removed in order to pass consitutional muster.

      Here was the legal strategy, developed under the guidance of Robert Bork (yeah that Bork), of lawyer Wendell Bird, who would later argue the case for Louisiana in Edwards vs. Aguillard:

      [Wendell Bird, 1979]: "Creationists working to introduce creation into public schools must distinguish sharply between scientific creationism and religious creationism. Scientific creationism consists of the scientific evidences for creation, while religious creationism consists of the Biblical doctrines of creation. Scientific creationism can be taught in public schools, while religious creationism cannot under current law. Creationists approaching public schools must avoid reference in discussions, resolutions,or classroom materials, to the Bible, Adam, the fall, or Noah..." [Cited in McIver, 1989]

      Bird again: "We are not trying to bring the Bible or Genesis into public schools. We are not trying to exclude evolution from public schools, unless creation is also excluded. We are asking public schools to be neutral between theories of the origin of the world, life, and man, and to give academic freedom of choice to students between these theories." [Cited in McIver, 1989]

      Read this next bit very closely:

      Nell Segraves, 1979: “Scientific creationism is compatible and coincides with the religious beliefs of plaintiffs, said beliefs, based upon scientific principles, being that there was a time in the past when all matter, energy and man and all plant and animal life, and their processes and relationships were created ex nihilo and fixed by creative and intelligent design." [Segraves complaint 1979, quoted in Jukes 1982, bold added; as cited by Nick Matzke, PT, November 18, 2005]

      Here is a 1980 article in the influential Bible-Science Newsletter. Sound familiar?

      Russell Leitch, 1980: "Sell more SCIENCE… Who can object to teaching more science? What is controversial about that? … do not use the word “creationism.” Speak only of science. Explain that withholding scientific information contradicting evolution amounts to “censorship” and smacks of getting into the province of religious dogma. Use the “censorship” label as one who is against censoring science. YOU are for science; anyone else who wants to censor scientific data is an old fogey and too doctrinaire to consider." [Russell H. Leitch, “Mistakes Creationists Make,” Bible-Science Newsletter 18: 2 (March 1980); cited in Ronald Numbers, The Creationists, p.276-7]

      And again:

      Nell Segraves, 1981: “Those of us involved in the Creationist Movement are not attempting to legislate biblical creation into science classrooms … The Creation Science Research Center is not attempting to introduce to public schools Bible stories or Bible verses… What we are advocating, rather, is the introduction into the science classroom of scientific data which are currently being excluded… scientific data which conflict with the evolutionary theories of origin, and which are needed for the critical evaluation of evolutionary theories…

      …[W]e are advocating the introduction into science textbooks of the scientific data which support the alternative explanation of origins, namely, intelligent, purposeful design and special creation.
      [Nell Segraves, Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 33 (December 1981): 231-235]

      Delete
    9. Quest,

      You can disagree all you want. Many in the modern creationist movement are running away from the word "creationism", and it's easy to see why. Behe, while not a creationist in the technical sense, is a creationist in the political/religious sense. If he doesn't want to be lumped with them, he should stop hanging out with them. The DI takes no position on the age of the earth or common descent, entirely in support of "big tent" creationism. If they're all about the science, why is it they can't figure out that the earth is billions of years old and that humans are related to chimps?

      Delete
    10. We had a discussion here a few days ago on whether even "theistic evolution" could be considered a form of creationism. I believe it can, and should. And if that's the case, then there is not question that ID is creationism as well.

      Delete
    11. @ Quest:

      Behe does not claim to be a creationist; I know it. Trust me!!! He would rather be called an ID advocate.

      Which is entirely besides the point. Of course he doesn't want to be called a creationist. That's a crucial aspect of the IDiots' strategy: To pretend there is some difference between them and creationists.

      Holocaust deniers would rather be called "historians" than "racists" or "anti-Semites." Should we accommodate them as well?

      Delete
    12. @Quest and others,

      For examples of Intelligent Design Creationists who don't shirk from the label "creationist," see: Creationist Continuum. That post also contains examples of evolution supporters who call themselves "creationists."

      Delete
  6. West: "What is really going on here is censorship."

    He said at his blog that does not permit comments.

    "When reporters use as a "neutral" description of intelligent design a polemical smear invented by its critics, they are effectively silencing"

    He said at his blog that does not permit comments.

    "They are poisoning the well so no one will be willing to listen"

    He said at his blog that never permits comments.

    "It is that so many of them apparently see nothing wrong with preventing intelligent design proponents from defining their own position."

    He said at his blog, where the top podcast is titled "Darwinists Grapple with Findings on Convergent Evolution"

    "he or she has a professional duty not to simply spread stereotypes and caricatures."

    He said in his blog post where he writes: "Why, then, do some Darwinists keep trying to conflate intelligent design with creationism?"

    ReplyDelete
  7. When I think "Who's in the same position as black people?" the first thing that comes to mind are aging white intellectual elitists at a think tank funded by a fascist banking billionaire.

    Right here you have the insanity of the Intelligent Design movement. "Throughout history, people have used stereotypes to silence, subjugate, and dehumanize those they oppose. In American history, blacks, Jews, women, Catholics, and others have all been victims of this kind of mistreatment."

    Yes, the ID proponents are just like blacks. Scientists have whipped them facts and lynched them on the rope of the scientific method.

    The pain, the pain. Yes, it's exactly the same. DI President Bruce Chapman's salary in 2003 was $141,000. The resemblance is uncanny.

    "Discovery Inst. John West sez: ID proponents are same as black people, victim of stereotypes. Sure hope George Zimmerman follows you home" [Tweeted from DiogenesLamp0]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I think "Who's in the same position as black people?" the first thing that comes to mind are aging white intellectual elitists at a think tank funded by a fascist banking billionaire.

      What a coincidence! Me too!

      P.S. You forgot to mention that they are almost all men.

      Delete
  8. Diogenes,

    I was just wondering if you have any reason left to answer yourself, not me or Larry, an honest answer to this question. I mean most people on this blog claim to have some sort of reason and thinking ability, yet for few months now, myself and some intelligent thinking proponents have been asking this question:

    "Can proteins self-assemble in the the primordial soup? (without cell membrane)
    The reason why we ask is that proteins tend to "avoid" the connection" or an "attraction". So, what makes them so "loving" in a cell?

    Enzymes are needed to produce ATP. However, energy from ATP is needed to produce enzymes. However, DNA is required to make enzymes, but enzymes are required to make DNA.
    However, proteins can be made only by a cell, but a cell can be made only with specific proteins. So, how is this ALL possible in view of evolutionary prospective?"

    Do you get it or you are just as blind as the rest on this fascinating blog?

    Dinogenes, I know you and the rest of so-called intelligentsia have no answers. However, I know you still believe in your fairy-tail about the origins,,, I don't care that you do, but what motivates you to believe in such obvious shit? I mean. I'm trying to be polite, but worlds' most advanced stupidity I will not ignore. I just don't get how pretty intelligent people who accuse ID of being idiots can be more dumb than them. I mean .you have to face the truth for crying out loud..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Quest,

      If you get an education the first thing you will notice is how little sense your questions make. Your ignorance is such that just to explain why your questions are nonsense would entail explaining to you such basic concepts as hydrophilic and hydrophobic, what proteins are, the properties of amino-acids, lipids ... man, the list is huge. (Add some basic logic to your list of things to learn.)

      Stop showing your abysmal ignorance. Stop pretending that you can make intelligent questions about things you so clearly have no idea about. Get an education. Then, if you have proper questions instead of your illiterate bullshit, we might be able to help.

      Delete
    2. An abiogenesis research site is here:

      http://molbio.mgh.harvard.edu/szostakweb/index.html

      The group appears to be making progress on their goal of building a synthetic cellular system that undergoes evolution, based on models of how such a system might have developed naturally. These models have been developed by testing many ideas experimentally and gathering relevant data. (See the publications list for details.)

      Many problems seem impossible but become solvable if one does not give up and keeps trying things and gathering data, as I have found from my own experiences (in a minor way) in engineering and math.



      Delete
    3. Joe Felsenstein
      Bad press just shows a BAD press. What do the press know about anything!
      Anyways any bad press is still good press because for the guys who are right it brings attention to their points. If these guys are the ones slaying the dragon but must tease the dragon out of its castle then stereotypes or false accusations or impressions are all useful in heightening the origin revolution.

      Delete
    4. So it's argument from ignorance all the way down?

      Delete
    5. JimV,

      Quest's problem is beyond the origins of life. Quest does not make sense. Let me show you:

      "Can proteins self-assemble in the the primordial soup? (without cell membrane)
      The reason why we ask is that proteins tend to "avoid" the connection" or an "attraction". So, what makes them so "loving" in a cell?


      I have done research on protein structure and folding. So, what does Quest mean here? The first sentence talks about self-assembling of proteins in a primordial soup. See that the wording is such as if a primordial soup was already being established, when so many options exist in research about the origin of life. Then, self-assemble might mean many things, leaving alone that life did not necessarily start with proteins "self-assembling" (whatever that means in Quest's question) in a primordial soup, but that proteins could have come later, Quest's problem seems to be about membranes. But that second part could be about protein folding. We could therefore think that folding could be Quest's problem in the first sentence, but then why should we worry about proteins folding in a primordial soup? Who has proposed that proteins first appeared in a primordial soup? As far as I know, proteins fold in solution (not every protein, but many proteins do). No membranes necessary. So what would be those avoidances of connections and attractions that Quest is talking about that happens outside membranes, but not inside? If the problem is now about protein complexes (who the hell knows), and some difficulty for proteins to interact outside of a membrane, then the problem answers itself if you know basic chemistry. But there's still no avoidance of connections/attractions even in this case. My only possible conclusion is that Quest has no idea about anything in science. Nothing about basic chemistry, about proteins, nothing about the words he is using (assemble, loving, membrane, attraction, connection, etc.). Quest is putting together science-sounding words without knowing what they mean.

      His other "puzzles" are only slightly better, but they show mostly that Quest is too much of an idiot who thinks that because things work one way in some known organisms, they must have always worked that way and they must work that way in every organism and cell as well. Again, pure ignorance of many other biochemistries, basic logic, basic science, etc.

      So, trying to explain something to Quest will always fail because he/she is protected from knowledge by his/her ignorance, stupidity, and pride.

      Delete
  9. Larry, I don't mean to be disrespectful, but what should I do, when one day, not that long from now, it is going to be proven that GMO, like corn damages the human gut, coz it can't be digested properly and causes or contributes to the so-called "fairy-tail" called leaky gut, which can affect the neurological functions, leading to autism??? What are you going to do then when it is proven beyond any doubt?

    ReplyDelete