Casey Luskin is once again hard at work in the Discovery Institute quote mines. In his latest effort, he tries to make the case that a recent review article by Kevin Padian and the Panda’s Thumb’s own Nick Matzke contains “veiled threats” designed to intimidate cdesign proponentsists. Casey dives into the quote mines in the first paragraph of the post:
It’s always amusing how evolutionists continually proclaim, and then re-proclaim, the apparent demise of intelligent design (ID) (i.e. ‘no really, this time ID actually is dead!’!). We’re pretty used to that, but then it gets a little creepy when they exude what appears to be an unhealthy pleasure in ID’s (purported) demise. Such was recently the exact case when National Center for Science Education (NCSE) president Kevin Padian and former NCSE spokesman Nick Matzke, in a January issue of Biochemical Journal, published a “review article” claiming that the “case for ID” has “collapsed,” gleefully asserting that “no one with scientific or philosophical integrity is going to take [Discovery Institute or ID] seriously in future.”
Whenever someone from the Discovery Institute quotes a scientist, it’s a good idea to go back to the original source. That’s particularly true in cases like this, where the quoted material consists of several sentence fragments. Unsurprisingly, when we check the original source, we find that the quoted passages occur several paragraphs apart.
The “veiled threat”, as Casey puts it, is found in the phrase “no one … is going to take [DI or ID] seriously in the future.” It might be good to put that phrase in a little more context:
The fact is that the DI took a terrible beating in the Dover trial. ‘ID’, their main industry, which they peddled relentlessly for over a decade as the ‘Next Great Idea’ in science, was revealed as religion, not science at all. The DI’s “Wedge strategy” was exposed and established as a crypto-fundamentalist Christian ideology of politics and social change. Their alleged ‘experts’ withdrew, leaving the defence in confusion. Their amicus briefs, which attempted to introduce expert testimony in the case without the danger of cross-examination, were ignored by the judge (as is typical in bench trials with an extensive record of testimony that is sworn and cross-examined). The media ‘darlings’ of the mid-1990s turned surly and uncommunicative with the press. They refused to participate in the PBS Nova documentary about the trial, unless PBS met demands that would violate the journalistic integrity of any news organization. And they have refused to allow the reprinting of some of their essays and articles, even in toto, by authors who they think will not be supportive of them. The credibility of the DI is inextricably linked to ID, and no one with scientific or philosophical integrity is going to take either of them seriously in future.
It’s difficult for me to see how there’s any kind of a threat – veiled, implicit, or explicit – in that passage. But then I’m not suffering (at least as far as I know) from either paranoia or a desire to depict myself as a martyr. For the explanation of the “threatening” nature of those words, let’s turn to Casey:
Imagine that you’re a pro-ID research biologist and you see leading research journals publishing lead review articles (not editorials, and not letters to the editor, but review articles) declaring that anyone who has “scientific or philosophical integrity” will not take intelligent design “seriously in the future.” What is the effect of such statements? The effect is that the authoritative reviewers send a message to you and others in the community that if you merely hint that you even so much as “take intelligent design seriously,” then you will be subject to all kinds of ridicule and your integrity will be tarnished.
In this style, reason and arguments are secondary, for it’s all about attacks on the person — if you support ID, you lack integrity. Period. Since reputation and integrity means so much in science and academia, this effectively puts a taboo on anything that hints of ID. The message is this: “Taking ID seriously could be harmful to the health of your career, so banish these thoughts from your mind (or keep them to yourself), and fall into line.”
That’s right. Apparently, the entire scientific community takes its marching orders from review articles published in Biochemical Journal. I had no idea biochemists were so powerful. Heck, I had no idea that review articles were that powerful.
Luskin goes on to support his paranoid position by tacking on an email that he allegedly received from a “pro-ID Ph.D. research biologist” who “wished to remain anonymous”. Here’s part of that “letter”:
The “review article” in question contains nothing of scientific merit. There are no interpretations of experimental results, no theories advanced, no biochemical concepts developed. There is no review of the current state of a particular scientific field, either. Instead, the review by Padian and Matzke is a one-sided retelling of a legal trial with some simplistic historical analysis and ersatz theology thrown in. The article conflates creationism and intelligent design, misrepresents the views of intelligent design scientists and the Discovery Institute, and engages in vicious character assassination. It is a blatant attempt to scare people away from intelligent design by proclaiming that “no one with scientific or philosophical integrity is going to take [ID] seriously in future.”
A couple of quick points:
First, given the current state of Intelligent Design “research”, it would be incredibly difficult (at best) to write a review article that focuses on ID and interprets experimental results. It’s at least as hard to review the state of ID as a “scientific field”. On the other hand, given the volume of material available, it’s incredibly easy to review the state of ID as a religious and political exercise.
Second, that’s why ID has no credibility. The Discovery Institute has spent enormous amounts of time, money, and energy promoting ID and other anti-evolution canards before school boards, churches, and miscellaneous political entities. They haven’t even pretended to do a similar amount of scientific research. They turned themselves into the public face of ID, and if there are actually pro-ID researchers out there, somewhere, in the wilderness, alone, doing scientific research, they have only the Discovery Institute to blame if they have a hard time getting anyone to take them seriously.
Oh, and crying about how the phrase “no one with scientific or philosophical integrity is going to take [DI or ID] seriously” is a mean, scary threat isn’t going to help you get taken more seriously, either.