Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Buell Begs for Cash

Peter Irons sent along this link, a fundraising letter from Foundation for Thought and Ethics (FTE) founder Jon Buell. FTE is the group that put out Of Pandas and People and is now trying its damnedest to put out The Design of Life, the next edition of Pandas. But they’re out of money to do so and they’re begging for more. And to make it really funny, while lamenting the fact that they’re broke and can’t even put out this book, they’re claiming to have us “Darwinists” right where they want us.

This is a really funny letter. It’s so disconnected from reality that it could form the basis for a clinical analysis of delusion. And the delusions start right from the second paragraph:

The Darwinists believe they are losing. Why else would they politicize an academic debate, take it into courts, and punish skeptics?


Oh, of course. Our side politicized it. Hilarious. We weren’t the ones who put out the Wedge Document. We weren’t the ones who went around the country lobbying school boards and state legislatures to put ID into public schools. We weren’t the ones went from school to school trying to get them to put Pandas into science classrooms, promising to represent them for free. We weren’t the ones who hired the PR firm that represented the Swift Boat Vets. Those things were all done by the other side. Hell, we’ve had a difficult time getting scientists to think politically at all in response to the very aggressive political campaign from the ID movement.

And fascinating facts are surfacing. Careful analysis reveals that 90.9% of Judge John E. Jones’s verdict was lifted, almost verbatim, including the errors, from the ACLU’s submitted “Findings of Fact.” The opinion is not his own analysis at all.

There ya go, Jon. Grab hold of that lie and repeat it over and over again until people believe it. Never mind that it has been thoroughly debunked repeatedly. The truth doesn’t matter, only truthiness does.

The stage is set for The Design of Life:

* The manuscript is complete. The book itself is a phenomenon.

Except that it doesn’t actually exist. And unless they can raise $200,000, it isn’t going to exist. But things are going really well for the ID movement, honest! They’ve lost a huge Federal court case, they’ve seen their few wins, like Ohio and Kansas, get reversed. They still haven’t managed to put out a single research paper that supports ID, or even come up with a positive theory that might provoke such research. But things are going great and they’re on the verge of winning – if you just send them some cash.

But now comes the big finish:

Whether for the sake of the school children you see out romping over the Christmas vacation, or for the future of America, the West, and of civilization, there could be no greater reason to reach out, seize a great vision, and embrace it as the cause that you will fight for, bleed for, deny yourself for, take risks for, and champion among your friends.

The Design of Life is ready to go to press, but we are out of funds. We need $200,000 to put this critical message on paper and in front of our culture.

Jawohl! You must be willing to bleed for this cause! The future of civilization itself demands your blood! Jon, don’t you think you’re pouring it on a little thick here? You might as well claim that “Darwinists” are gonna marry their sister, smoke marijuana and rape white women.

Through the tremendous strengths of Bill Dembski and his extraordinary co-author, Dr. Jonathan Wells, you can positively and forcefully impact tens, or even hundreds of thousands of lives.

Just like the hundreds of thousands of lives that have been impacted by Jonathan Wells’ savior, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a man who runs perhaps the world’s largest and most dangerous cult, a cult wedded to power in governments around the world. Ours included. Hey, Moon has billions. Why not hit him up for the 200K? He spends hundreds of millions to push right wing political causes. Hell, you’ve already taken funding from Christian Reconstructionists, why not take it from a Korean fascist as well?

Comments

  1. #1 GH
    January 29, 2007

    Great post Ed. Sylvia Brown and the IDers are one and the same in reality. They are all peddlers of woo in what is essentially a shakedown.

    man who runs perhaps the world’s largest and most dangerous cult, a cult wedded to power in governments around the world

    He’s got competition there from the pope and others.

    You might as well claim that “Darwinists” are gonna marry their sister, smoke marijuana and rape white women

    That was funny.

  2. #2 kemibe
    January 29, 2007

    “…there could be no greater reason to reach out, seize a great vision, and embrace it as the cause that you will fight for, bleed for, deny yourself for, take risks for, and champion among your friends.”

    There could be no better reason to reach into your ass, seize the latest recycled version of creationism, and embrace it as the cause that you will misrepresent, lose court battles over, embarrass yourself regarding, and wave around like a diseased and drooping phallus, even as you find yourself with fewer and fewer friends willing to go down with the ship, except on the Internets.

  3. #3 Michael Suttkus, II
    January 29, 2007

    I thought scientology was the world’s largest and most dangerous cult. Or are they too large to be a cult now? Is there an official source for who the most dangerous cult is?

  4. #4 FishyFred
    January 29, 2007

    When I first read the headline, I thought “Carl Buell? I’m getting my wallet right now. Oh. A different Buell. Well screw that.”

    I thought scientology was the world’s largest and most dangerous cult.

    They don’t have much in the way of political power. Moon has it in spades.

  5. #5 mpoitskd
    January 29, 2007

    Perhaps they need an agent. I’ve heard many publishers actually GIVE MONEY to authors for books they think should be published.

  6. #6 J-Dog
    January 29, 2007

    Ed said: “Hey, Moon has billions. Why not hit him up for the 200K? He spends hundreds of millions to push right wing political causes. Hell, you’ve already taken funding from Christian Reconstructionists, why not take it from a Korean fascist as well?”

    IMO, They would rather Fleece The Faithful (TM), and save the Moon Millions for more serious things, like paying off the DI fellows.

  7. #7 Michael Suttkus, II
    January 29, 2007

    Scientology is working on getting political power. What they’ve done to Clearwater, FL is a roadmap to the rest of the country, I expect.

    We need an objective scale for dangerous cults. Maybe we can name it after Jim Jones.

  8. #8 G Barnett
    January 29, 2007

    Good idea on the scale, there. To sound “official” you should probably call it something like the “K-A Scale,” and if/when asked what it means, then admit that all K-A stands for is “Kool-Aid.”

  9. #9 Ed Brayton
    January 29, 2007

    It never occured to me before that Jon Buell and Carl Buell share a last name. I wonder if they are related? Carl, are you out there? The two should never be confused, of course. Jon is the huckster behind Of Pandas and People, while Carl is the brilliant artist who now has his own blog. He did the illustrations for most of Carl Zimmer’s work and much more.

  10. #10 Johnny Vector
    January 29, 2007

    Yeah, I thought “Carl Buell” when I saw the head too. And I too would be first in line to pre-order that big coffee-table book he’s working on. Or anyway I assume he is; I’ve mentioned the need for it on his blog once or twice, so I’m sure he’s hard at work on it.

  11. #11 tacitus
    January 29, 2007

    I find the fact that they’re asking for $200,000 to publish their book a little fishy. First, if “Of Pandas and People” had done more than merely break even, they would have no trouble finding a publisher. Second, there are plenty of self-publishing options around these days, and the more reputable companies don’t require hundreds of thousands of dollar up front — that’s just not how they work.

    Finally, if this series of books is supposed to be one of the major battlefronts of “The Wedge” then why on earth are they begging for money in the first place? There are any number of Wedge-friendly individuals and organizations for whom this sum is mere pocket change. I dare say Dembski, Wells, and Behe alone could bankroll the book between them.

    So what is it? Why do they need a huge sum of money, and why are they having trouble raising it? Is the manuscript that bad, or is it that since Dover their books have suddenly become radioactive?

    Careful analysis reveals that 90.9% of Judge John E. Jones’s verdict was lifted, almost verbatim, including the errors, from the ACLU’s submitted “Findings of Fact.”

    Is this what you call an example of “truthiness creep”? Embellish and enhance the original lie seems to be the order of the day.

  12. #12 doctorgoo
    January 29, 2007

    Come on now guys, the DI didn’t want the Dover board to take Kitzmiller to trial because they knew it they would lose. And that’s why they tried to pull all their witnesses for the defense from the trial.

    This is the same reason why Dembski, Wells and Behe won’t bankroll this book either. After Pandas was completely debunked as a creationist textbook, they aren’t going to put their weight behind the new revision. They realize that any court of law would see it immediately for what is is… just another creationist textbook.

  13. #13 Keanus
    January 29, 2007

    Having been out of book publishing for a number of years, I’m not up on current costs, but to publish a small first printing of a K-12 commercial text will, indeed, require a six figure sum, if the publisher wants to sell them to any public school (20 years ago to get a first printing of a HS biology book costs about $6,000,000 before the first book was sold).

    The public schools all require that textbooks be manufactured to rigid specifications: a specific binding, minimum paper standards, minimum cover stock and so on. They are expensive, far more so than those manufactured for the trade market. Of course, is your only market is in “Xian” schools, then the publisher can probably compromise on manufacturing standards–the buyers won’t know the difference–but the books will not last one year, much less five years. Of course, those standards don’t address the quality of the copy. That’s a whole different issue. And the $200,000 the FTE is seeking, assuming that’s what they plan on spending means a physically substandard book–as well as editorially.

  14. #14 peter irons
    January 29, 2007

    I just received an email from FTE, in reply to my inquiry about when “Design” would come out: “Due to circumstances beyond our control, we are not able to give a date certain fr the publication of TheDesign of Life. We are working hard to publis the book as soon as possible.” Translation: it probably won’t ever come out. After Kitzmiller, any book connected with Pandas or the FTE is radioactive; no school board would risk another million-dollar judgment, and school-board lawyers know this. But design wouldn’t even sell to the “Christian” schools or home-school parents, since most are Young-Earth Creationists and they have YEC biology texts available; why settle for watereddown creationism when you can get the real sx-day creation story in other books? So I’ll bet Dembski a bottle of single-malt Scotch that Design never gets to the presses.

  15. #15 Ed Darrell
    January 29, 2007

    Peter, you mean that the market has spoken, and the market says this book is dead?

    How I love it when charlatans who claim to be conservative, market-loving free-enterprise capitalists get hammered by the marketplace. It’s rather like divine, righteous Schadenfreude.

    Who says God has no sense of humor?

  16. #16 djmullen
    January 30, 2007

    “I dare say Dembski, Wells, and Behe alone could bankroll the book between them.”

    Dembski claims to be an FTE editor. Remember, that’s why he had to bail on testifying at the Dover trial. ;) Laying him off would free up some money. Not $200,000 of course, but surely there are others on the FTE staff who aren’t pulling their weight.

    Come on Guys! Let’s see a little spirit of sacrifice here.

  17. #17 Kristine
    January 30, 2007

    (I thought of Carl too but realized immediately it had to be someone else.)

    Now come on, everyone. What do they do in the 1940s films when people needed to raise money? They put on a show! Right? You’d think somebody would *shimmy* think of that.

    I’m sure there’s lots’o'talent in the ID community. Time for them to strut their stuff, I say. It doesn’t have to be the full monty; how about just a talent show? A silent auction, or a silent-but-deadly auction? Well, maybe that’s not such a good idea…

  18. #18 Arden Chatfield
    January 30, 2007

    It’s intreresting to ask how far along this book was when the Dover verdict came down. Given how long it often takes to finish books, it could be that the book was already mostly written pre-Dover, and that only momentum has carried it along the last 13 months. In other words, maybe in the first year or two of its progress, the book didn’t look so radioactive, but the bottom fell out of their market after December ’05, and they just haven’t been able to bring themselves to shitcan it since then.

    So maybe the book HAD funding once upon a time, which has since been pulled.