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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Rebranding Intelligent Design

posted by on June 4 at 13:42 PM

The New York Times has a good story today about the newest rebranding efforts of the intelligent design proponents at Seattle’s very own Discovery Institute.

Laura Beil goes over a few of the good old catchphrases—creationism to creation science to intelligent design—but it’s useful to remember that there are also nitty-gritty PR tactics under those larger umbrella strategies. As newly favored phrases like “strengths and weaknesses” [of the theory of evolution] and “academic freedom” are being phased in (with the help of mass culture and new media propaganda in movie theaters and on YouTube), many others have been or are being phased out: “equal time for creation science” (this was dropped after the Supreme Court called bullshit on it in Edwards v. Aguillard; “intelligent design” appeared soon thereafter), “abrupt appearance theory,” “critical analysis of evolution,” “teach the controversy,” etc. Others are being retracted so you’ll only hear them in creation-friendly audiences: “Evolution is a theory in crisis,” “evolution is just or only a theory,” “evolutionist,” etc.

Intelligent design is a legal strategy wrapped in a robustly funded public relations campaign. (In terms of content, it’s still dependent on the tired old God-of-the-gaps reasoning of 18th-century philosopher William Paley, who died before Charles Darwin had been born.) Sound, innovative ideas don’t need that kind of arsenal to succeed in the public sphere.

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The FSM sub-contracted out the Intelligent Design, since we're all imperfect beings not made in His Image ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 4, 2008 2:26 PM

Thousands of brilliant minds have spent hundreds of years digging up mountains of evidence that prove evolution is, indeed, fact. What do the proponents of "creationism" have? Big mouths and pathetic reasoning. Oh, and sociopathic personalities.That's enough for boneheaded conservatives.

Posted by Vince | June 4, 2008 2:36 PM

I liked that it pointed out the way the argument against natural selection has gradually mutated in response to environmental (judicial/public) influences.

Posted by erika | June 4, 2008 2:40 PM

Well. Isn't heliocentrism just a rebranding of geocentrism? I mean, yes, name changed. The replaced "geo" with "helio." Branding, however, is a bigger science than picking a good name. They also changed the thing that the planets revolved around, from the Earth to the Sun along with naming it heliocentrism. The rebranding wasn't just cosmetic; it included making it, you know, true.

I'm sure if they could sufficiently rebrand intelligent design it would become true too.

Posted by elenchos | June 4, 2008 2:46 PM

I'm confused, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin ... does it matter where the pin is made? If it's made in China, are they Chinese goddesses and demons?

Remember, the sun revolves around the earth, true believers!

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 4, 2008 3:21 PM

I liked that it pointed out the way the argument against natural selection has gradually mutated in response to environmental (judicial/public) influences.

Yes. In fact you might even say it . . . evolved . . .

Posted by shub-negrorath | June 4, 2008 3:39 PM

God is it ever frustrating to see Paley's watchmaker bullshit still being trotted out. Hume had essentially refuted arguments from design a good 50 or 60 years before Paley got around to regurgitating them.

Posted by Bison | June 4, 2008 5:35 PM

Here is a "book report" I provided to "Texans for Better Science Eucation" (TBSE)- ratting out a text book that doesn’t teach “both sides” of an argument.

Please describe the exact location of the error on the page and what the error is.

This text book fails to discuss any of the virtues of white supremacy whatsoever. The theory of white supremacy is a "perfectly legitimate alternative point of view" that - in keeping with the reasoning behind teaching "Weaknesses of Evolution" should be discussed should it not?

If it's perfectly fine to introduce mythology, superstition and a missionary agenda into science curriculum, why not go all the way and introduce the theory of white supremacy and hold some meaningful discussion around how gradual variations in skin tone as humans migrated north eventually led to the rise of the Arian master race?

You probably think my suggestion is ridiculous. It is. It's about as ridiculous as trying to cast doubt around evolution by marginalizing the science through the application of superstition. There are some points of view that should never be taken seriously - nor acknowledged through discourse.

As Mark Twain once said, "Faith is what you need when you know it ain't so."

Do you have a suggested replacement wording for what the book is trying to teach?


Evolution should no longer be referred to as a "theory". I propose that all mentions of evolution be re-written to reference "the fact of evolution" - as proven through exhaustive and rigorous scientific research that has been borne out again and again - not only in the fossil and geologic record, which can be observed with the naked eye, but also in the building block of life itself - DNA! (My apologies for using the word "naked" back there - I didn't mean to tantalize you and make you twitter.)

Posted by Erik S | June 5, 2008 7:59 AM

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