When I came home from work, and saw the headline: DeVos Backs
Discussion of Intelligent Design, I knew I wanted to blog it.
Alas, I get the afternoon paper. href="http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2006/09/devos_and_intelligent_design.php#more">Ed
Brayton gets the href="http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060920/NEWS99/60920015">morning
paper, and had already beaten me to it. Not only
that, but href="http://scienceblogs.com/mikethemadbiologist/2006/09/the_republican_war_on_science_1.php">Mike
had already added a few licks. They even made the same points
that I was planning to make.
Since Ed’s post is rather polite, I thought I would play the role of
attack dog. But PZ led with the headline Michigan:
I presume you won’t actually elect this clown, right?
So that point has been made. As to whether DeVos
has a chance, well, I would not rule him out yet. href="http://www.thedailyreporter.com/articles/2006/09/18/news/news06.txt">DeVos
still trails in the polls, despite a href="http://www.grandhaventribune.com/paid/295976131025256.bsp">breathtakingly
expensive ad campaign. He’s spent $3,250,000 of his
own money so far, and $21 million total. That’s compared to
$12 million raised by the Democratic incumbent, href="http://www.granholmforgov.com/">Jennifer Granholm.
Then I was going to point out that this is a part of the Republican War
on Science. But Mike’s title is: The Republican War
on Science Continues.
So I had to add something new, or at least try to.
Some background: DeVos is the Republican candidate for governor in
Michigan. He is also a lead operator in the href="http://www.mousemusings.com/weblogs/2006/09/michigan-politics-2006.html">Amway/Quixtar
pyramid scheme. (Note: it is not, technically
speaking, an illegal pyramid scheme; it is a
pyramid scheme that uses a legal loophole to sidestep prosecution.)
Mike made the point that DeVos’ promotion of intelligent design is yet
another manifestation of the Republican War on Science. href="http://scienceblogs.com/intersection/about.php">Chris
Mooney has argued the point very effectively in href="http://www.amazon.com/Republican-War-Science-Chris-Mooney/dp/0465046762/sr=8-2/qid=1158884733">his
book. But there is more to it than that.
The war on science is also a war on reason. But the reason
that is important is not that science and reason are sacred icons that
are never to be defiled. The war on science is important
because of the effects it has on people. The war on science
has a purpose: it distorts the power structure in our country, much to
the detriment of its citizens.
One of the sources of political power is the power of persuasion.
The problem with science is that it can be very persuasive,
but when done properly, science can be used on to persuade people of
things that the science actually supports. That makes it
And that is the connection to the
business. DeVos made his billions using the power
of persuasion, but not with the power of logic. A simple
mathematical analysis of the business shows that it cannot possibly
work for the majority of participants. So it is not in DeVos’
best interest to teach people to think in a scientifically rigorous
manner. To the contrary, it is in his best interest to
destroy the foundations of scientific education. By
introducing faith in the guise of science, he is trying to do exactly
“This debate is another attempt,” he said, “by the
other side to take the subject away from the true debate in Michigan
and the true debate is how are we going to get Michigan back to work.”
No, it is not a diversionary tactic. It is a valid point in
its own right. If DeVos does not understand the issues, that
is a valid point. If he does not support science education,
that is a valid point. If he values deception over truth,
that is a valid point. In an honest debate, one does not
derisively dismiss a valid point. If he has a valid argument
to offer, he should let us know what it is.
An editorial in the Livingston County Press & Argus, the
editorial board expresses this considered opinion:
It’s disappointing that Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos
has said that he favors teaching intelligent design alongside evolution
in our public school science classes.
His decision appears to pander toward a segment of his political party
at the expense of quality education.
Intelligent design — the belief that our world is so complex
that it had to be the product of a higher form — was called
religion masquerading as science by a federal judge in Pennsylvania
last year. That’s a pretty good summary of it.
People can and should hold their personal beliefs about the existence
of a Supreme Being who created all life. But that belief should not be
forced upon our public school systems as a scientific alternative.
We suspect that DeVos fully understands what he is doing and merely
wants to solidify himself among some Christian observers, while forcing
his opponent to reject the argument.
This is a time when we need to improve our reputation as a state that
values scientific research and investment. In this case, DeVos is not
providing the type of leadership change this state needs.
“I’ve always believed that our children should
be provided with more knowledge, not less,” DeVos said in a statement.
“Lots of intelligent people can disagree about the origins of life. In
the end, I believe in the system of local control. Local school boards
should have the opportunity to offer evolution and intelligent design
in their curriculums.”
This is an example of a politician contorting a topic to conclude his
statement with a standard party line. In this case, he ends
up not addressing the issue at hand, which he knows nothing about, but
instead changes the topic to one that he feels is a strong point.
The thing about this that is dishonest, is that if he really
believed in local control, he would hardly be able to support a unitary
Furthermore, the issue of local control is not really a strong point of
the Republican party at this stage of history. Over the past
six years, the Party has been selective, favoring local control when it
suits their interest, but discarding it when it does not.
What he is doing in his campaign is fundamentally dishonest, just as
his business model is dishonest.
In this campaign, the challenger has the advantage of having no
political record that the incumbent can attack. But DeVos
does have a business record, and that record
reveals him to be a Merchant of Deception.