The Discovery Institute: Scientific When It Suits Them

Mitt Romney’s patently self-serving internally-inconsistent politiking draws to mind that of the Discovery Institute, a US-based proponent of Intelligent Design Creationism. Romney picks and chooses when he wants to endorse secularism and when he wants to endorse faith-state integration based on what best suits his campaign in a given situation. Similarly, the DI seems to be rather selective with regard to whether or not they want Intelligent Design to be treated as a Science. In the Dover trial, and whenever they are trying to push ID into schools and into the scientific mainstream they endorse it as a fullblown secular Science–and fail miserably at it, as ID is nothing more than an enterprise which seeks to find holes in evolutionary theory and then assert that naturalistic explanations cannot explain life and that therefore a God must have done it. Interesting I would’ve thought that if evolution were to be debunked, the fall-back position would be agnosticism… ID makes absolutely no positive claims which can be tested and, much like professional wrestling, has its conclusion pre-determined. It presents no evidence for the existence of a designer which does not hinge on arguments from ignorance (i.e., arguments in which one assumes that if we do not currently understand something completely, then God must have done it), no evidence for design that is not already accounted for by evolutionary theory, and presents no conditions under which ID “theory” could ever be falsified; falsifiability being a core preccondition for any scientific theory. This, indeed, is the view of the broad scientific community and Judge John Jones, the conservative Bush-appointed judge who decided in the Dover trial that ID is not science, but is merely old-school religious Creationism masquerading as science.

While the DI claims that they want ID treated as a science, it is clear that what they really want is for it to be treated as a specially privileged science. Recently an ID-advocating astronomy prof at Iowa State University, Guillermo Gonzales, was denied tenure. There were a variety of reasons for this. Notably, his publication record, graduate student supervision, and ability to bring in research funding to the department were all significantly below that of his peers. The DI, however, is alleging that the primary reason for his rejection is his support for ID, which they assert would constitute an infraction of academic freedom. First of all, his track record was so unimpressive that there is little reason to believe that he would have received tenure anyway (http://scienceblogs.com/neurotopia/2007/12/a_handy_graphictimeline_of_gon.php). Secondly, even if it were the case that he was declined primarily because of his stance on ID, is that grounds for making a big stink about it? When a prospective faculty member shows such a complete lack of regard for what science is, and does next to no actual science during his tenure track years at ISU, it should not come as a shock when he is not given a permanent faculty position in a science department. Academic freedom is one thing. But the freedom to take up a valuable faculty position and resources to pursue a nonscientific dead-end research paradigm in which the conclusion is decided in advance is another. Would the DI have been so quick to play the academic freedom scientific conspiracy card had Gonzalez been a fervent believer in astrology?

Just like Mitt Romney should realize that Mormonism is not deserving of inherent priority over Islam, atheism, and a host of other religious and nonreligious stances, the DI should learn that ID is neither a science nor is it a science deserving of special protection.

 IDists like to declare that there is an international scientific conspiracy against ID. There IS a scientific conspiracy–a conspiracy to expose and expell bad science and in this case, religious pseudoscience attempting to elbow its way to false scientific credibility.

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Comments
One Response to “The Discovery Institute: Scientific When It Suits Them”
  1. Xander Legere says:

    Mitt is a Mormon, he and Mike Huckabee (a Baptist) will hate on each other, but only when they are not hating on the secular ideals that lay in the American constitution. Romney also states “his father walked with Martin Luther King” which is a dirty lie.

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