Very early this morning, the Discovery Institute’s Rob Crowther posted an article over at the DI’s “why’s everyone always picking on us” blog. I’m not exactly sure what inspired Rob to get some work done late on a Saturday night, but the result is an article that’s so chock full of hysterically absurd misrepresentations and bizarre claims that it’s impossible to resist the urge to comment.
The apparent cause for Rob’s rant was his displeasure with an op-ed that was published in the Austin American-Statesman on Friday. The op-ed was written by the past-president, president, and president-elect of The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas, on behalf of the entire Board of Directors of the organization. In the op-ed, they noted that recent events in Texas have caused many scientists in the state to become more concerned about attacks on science education, and stated that the position of their organization is that Intelligent Design is not science, and should not be taught as such. The authors’ position is clearly stated and their tone is reasonable. That’s what I thought when I read it, anyway.
Rob Crowther disagrees. In fact, he thinks that the authors of the op-ed compared the Intelligent Design movement to Nazis. His reasoning is so completely and utterly insane that it defies the imagination.
He begins his loopy chain of reasoning by quoting a paragraph from the op-ed:
The future of the world, our nation and the State of Texas hinges on continued breakthroughs in science, engineering and medicine as we face challenges in providing adequate supplies of energy and water, a clean environment, health care, and economic competitiveness. To meet these challenges, it is necessary to continue to attract the best minds to Texas and to provide our children with rigorous and challenging scientific training. Anything that diminishes the rigor of the education of the youth of Texas or our ability to recruit the best talent creates a great risk to the State and limits our contribution to protecting the nation from the “Gathering Storm”.
That’s the paragraph that, in Crowther’s twisted universe, compares Intelligent Design proponents to Nazis. Really. The message is very clearly there, right in that very paragraph. I’m sure you can see it for yourself, but just in case you’re having a problem locating the reference, Crowther’s done the hard work of inventing finding it for you:
“The Gathering Storm” metaphor, comes from the first volume of Winston Churchill’s history of WWII. The title referred to the rise of National Socialism. Incredibly, leading Texas scientists are now comparing us to Nazis.
There it is, clear as daylight. I can’t believe I didn’t spot that on my own. Churchill used the phrase “gathering storm” as a metaphor for the looming threat presented by Germany and Italy prior to the start of World War II. The authors of the op-ed used the same phrase. Therefore, they have compared Intelligent Design proponents to Nazis. I can’t believe I was too dazed and confused to see that one on my own. Thank goodness that Rob Crowther was here to point it out. If he hadn’t been there to remind us that a two-word metaphor absolutely must refer to the exact same things every single time it’s used, I’d still be lost in the wilderness. Instead, I’m left shocked and awed by the brilliantly subtle way that the Texas Academy folks managed to slip the reference past the editors.
Believe it or not, it actually gets better. Crowther didn’t just have to twist logic, reason, and the English language to claim that IDists were being compared to Nazis. He also had to lie about what the “gathering storm” metaphor was actually referring to. The authors of the op-ed did not consider the Intelligent Design proponents to be the big threat – Crowther’s giving himself way too much credit there. The looming threat that they were actually talking about is the danger of the country not being able to compete if we don’t improve education. This was clearly identified in the paragraph before the one Crowther quoted:
We recently embarked on a project to determine how Texas should respond to the report of the National Academies entitled “Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Future”. The report describes crises in the educational system in the United States, particularly pertaining to science, and their effect on our national competitiveness.
Maybe a different metaphor would make it easier for Rob to understand what the op-ed’s authors were referring to. Instead of calling the threat (a future where the US goes to hell in a handbasket) a storm, let’s call it a fire. The bad future is the big fire. The kids in school are the ones who are going to put out the fire. A good educational system is the road that they need to take to get to the fire. I’m pretty sure I managed to keep the Nazis out of that metaphor. All that’s missing is where Intelligent Design fits in. They’re not the fire. They’re not the people who are going to put it out. They’re certainly not the road.
They’re a just couple of guys armed with a jackhammer and a six-pack.