Dispatches from the Creation Wars

DI Lying About Dover

The Discovery Institute really is frantic about the Dover case and it’s making them tell some real whoppers. The latest one is from DI director John West:

Dr. John West of the Discovery Institute, which sponsors research on intelligent design, said the case displayed the ACLU’s “Orwellian” effort to stifle scientific discourse and objected to the issue being decided in court.

“It’s a disturbing prospect that the outcome of this lawsuit could be that the court will try to tell scientists what is legitimate scientific inquiry and what is not,” West said. “That is a flagrant assault on free speech.”

Complete and utter bullshit, Mr. West. This case has nothing to do with what scientists may inquire about. Scientists are today entirely free to do research on “intelligent design”, and they will remain so regardless of the outcome of the Dover case. There is only one thing preventing scientists from doing research on ID. It’s not the government or the law, it’s the complete lack of an ID model from which one might derive testable hypotheses.

There is no free speech issue here. You and your friends are completely unfettered in your right to advocate ID from sea to shining sea, just like flat earthers, Raelians and moon landing deniers. But that doesn’t mean you get access to teach your silly beliefs in public school science classrooms, any more than these other groups do. The only thing Orwellian about this situation is your breathtaking dishonesty in trying to strike the martyr pose.


  1. #1 mark
    September 25, 2005

    I wonder if any of those people actually believe any of the crap they say–the major backers of ID do indeed want an outside-of-science authority to define what science is and how it should be done (and that authority is the self-selected agents of God). Evolutionary theory is just one evil aspect of secularism they wish to eliminate.

  2. #2 G-Do
    September 25, 2005

    That is pretty laughable. There has to be a social consensus on what science is, or we’d run the risk of having public monies (slotted for research grants) getting blown on pseudoscience.

    If the court has to rule on the constitutionality of a local program that appropriates federal dollars to educate children, and the ruling affects our social consensus on what science is, so be it. The social discussion about what science really is needs to get jumpstarted somehow 😛

  3. #3 Matthew
    September 26, 2005

    Why couldn’t the reporter have fired back, in a unbiased sort of way, “specifically, how will the outcome of this lawsuit enforce a definition of legitimate scientific inquiry on scientists? Please be specific.”

    But no. Instead they jot down his non sequiturs in their notepads and report it back to the public uncritically.

  4. #4 Ginger Yellow
    September 26, 2005

    Well, you can kind of see what he’s getting at. The DI is clearly (and understandably) petrified that the incompetently handled Dover case will see a federal judge (maybe even the Supreme Court) declaring that ID isn’t a scientific theory but religious handwaving. Now it’s quite telling that West thinks that matters. Real scientists wouldn’t care what a judge says and would just get on with their research. But since West and his colleagues are engaged in a PR and legal campaign to institutionalise ID without having to do any science, it would be a massive blow.

  5. #5 Ed Brayton
    September 26, 2005


    I agree this case could be a massive blow to the DI’s campaign. But that still has nothing at all to do with free speech and to say that the case may impede on the free speech of scientists is simply a lie.

  6. #6 CPT_Doom
    September 26, 2005

    Slightly off-topic – there is a great article in the Washington Post today on evolutionary research at the level of DNA, and how it continues to reinforce the support for evolutionary theory, and drive scientists opposition to “Intelligent Design.”


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