It’s a been a while since I checked in with Dembski and Co. over at Uncommon Descent. But this entry caught my eye.
In it, Dembski reproduces eight criteria indicative of groupthink. He writes, “Read the following and ask yourself which side in the ID vs. Darwinism debate exhibits the groupthink syndrome:”
So what the heck! Let’s take the challenge. For the purposes of this post I’ll even accept his ID vs. Darwinism characterization. For ease of reading, I’ve placed the eight criteria in boldface type:
1. an illusion of invulnerability, shared by most or all the members, which creates excessive optimism and encourages taking extreme risks;
Darwinists understand that evolutionary biology is in a constant state of flux. It is frequently revised in response to new data. They are confident of the core principles of their science, but only because decades of research have produced evidence sufficient to justify that confidence. ID folks, by contrast, believe they are doing the Lord’s work. They make frequent predictions about the not too distant future when ID will win the day. They either ignore, or write utterly inadeuate replies, to all criticisms levelled against them. They tell the public their inability to produce anything of scientific interest is the result of a conspiracy against them. They claim to have discovered fourth laws of thermodynamics, and to have revolutionized the study of science.
2. collective efforts to rationalize in order to discount warnings which might lead the members to reconsider their assumptions before they recommit themselves to their past policy decisions;
Darwinists respond in great detail to all arguments put before them by ID folks and creationists. In doing so they show how the arguments of the critics are simply erroneous. They “rationalize” nothing. ID folks, by contrast, attribute their inability to persuade scientists to delusional consipracy theories. Rather then respond to arguments from scientists, they assert merely that scientists can’t see the truth of ID arguments because of the philosophical blinders they wear. Rationalization indeed.
3. an unquestioned belief in the group’s inherent morality, inclining the members to ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions;
Darwinists believe simply that modern evolutionary theory is the most reasonable conclusion to be drawn from the facts as they are currently known. ID folks, on the other hand, routinely distort the work done by scientists, misprepresent the content of evolution, quote people out of context and impugn the integrity of the scientific community in public gatherings. And, as already noted, they are the ones who believe they are doing the Lord’s work.
4. stereotyped views of enemy leaders as too evil to warrant genuine attempts to negotiate, or as too weak and stupid to counter whatever risky attempts are made to defeat their purposes;
Darwinists base their views of their opponents on the actions taken by ID advocates. In responding, they point to specific things done by their opponents and explain why they represent bad faith from the ID side. ID folks are perfectly happy to tell audiences about how evolution leads to immoral behavior. They assert that Hitler was a Darwinist. They tell audiences that theistic evolutionists are traitors to the cause, and proudly assert that ID is no friend of theistic evolution.
5. direct pressure on any member who expresses strong arguments against any of the group’s stereotypes, illusions, or commitments, making clear that this type of dissent is contrary to what is expected of all loyal members;
When Darwinists confront strong arguments against their views, as with Gould and Eldredge advocating punctuated equilibrium or in the recent emphasis on the importance of development in evolution, they respond with constructive engagement. It is only blatantly fallacious arguments they are unkind towards. ID folks, meanwhile, are very unkind towards religious people who see ID as theologically suspect.
6. self-censorship of deviations from the apparent group consensus, reflecting each member’s inclination to minimize to himself the importance of his doubts and counterarguments;
Darwinists, like all scientists, operate in an envirnoment that rewards innovative thinking and the overthrow of orthodoxy. Any scientist worth his salt has a high opinion indeed of his doubts and counterarguments. Scientists are measured by their ability to contribute something new to their discipline. ID folks, by contrast, are measured by their ability to give a slick presentation with enough sci-babble to impress nonscientists. In fairness, self-censorship probably isn’t a problem for ID folks. The ID community is so small and has so little clout with scientists that only a true believer would want anything to do with them in the first place.
7. a shared illusion of unanimity concerning judgments conforming to the majority view (partly resulting from self-censorship of deviations, augmented by the false assumption that silence means consent);
That the scientific community is nearly unanimous in its accetpance of evolution is attested to by the hundreds of journals devoted to the subject, and the activities of the countless biology labs around the world. It is not an illusion. Again, this one doesn’t really apply to the ID folks. Your membership in the movement is based on your willlingness to spout certain talking points. If you are not willing to tow the party line, then you are simply not a member of their sordid little community to begin with.
8. the emergence of self-appointed mindguards – members who protect the group from adverse information that might shatter their shared complacency about the effectiveness and morality of their decisions.
Darwinists, like all scientists, operate in an environment in which all relevant information is readily available to anyone who wants it. They couldn’t have “mindguards”, self-appointed or otherwise, even if they wanted them. ID folks, via the Discovery Institute, have an effective propaganda wing that does its utmost to explain why each new ID failure is somehow actually a great victory. A Republican judge rule against you? More evidence of the conspiracy! Your main guy humiliated on the stand under cross-examination? Nonsense. He did great! Complete inability to produce anything of scientific relevance? There’s lot’s of research going on, but it’s all secret! Have to fight the conspiracy you know!!
The situation seems pretty clear to me!