Steve Reuland posted Entry 1289 on August 4, 2005 11:19 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1287

Today’s Washington Post has an excellent editorial about Bush’s recent remarks about teaching ID.  In particular, it makes the point that antievolutionists, consisting mostly of people on the right side of the political spectrum, tend to advocate a kind of mushy-headed relativism when it comes to the so-called origins debate:

FOR MORE THAN 30 years, the conservative movement in America has been doing battle with the forces of relativism, the “do your own thing” philosophy that eschews objective truth and instead sees all beliefs and all personal choices as equally valid. Instead, philosophically minded American conservatives have argued that there is such a thing as objectivity and that some beliefs really are better, truer or more accurate than others. Given this history, it seems appropriate to ask: Is President Bush really a conservative?

Indeed, just how conservative is it to advocate “teaching the controversy” when scientists consistently point out that there is no controversy, calling criticism or dismissal of your ideas “viewpoint discrimination”, or complaining that it’s a violation of teachers’ “free speech” rights when requiring them to actually, you know, teach what’s in the curriculum rather than insert their own personal points of view?  This is the sort of behavior that would make conservatives scoff in disbelief if the Left did it in defense of, say, afrocentrism.  And yet ironically, pushing an ultra-conservative worldview is the raison d’être of the entire ID movement, as laid out in the Wedge Document.  It would seem that this brave, new worldview doesn’t recognize any objective truth at all, just various points of view, each of which should be regarded as equally valid, and anyone who denounces some claims as wrong or unsubstantiated is to be accused of dogmatism and persecution. 

Of course I don’t think that the purveyors of ID really think this way, it’s just a deceitful and hypocritical marketing strategy.  Because after all, ID proponents may not believe in truth, but they certainly believe in Truth™.

The WaPo article continues:

But the proponents of intelligent design are not content with participating in a philosophical or religious debate. They want their theory to be accepted as science and to be taught in ninth-grade biology classes, alongside the theory of evolution. For that, there is no basis whatsoever: The nature of the “evidence” for the theory of evolution is so overwhelming, and so powerful, that it informs all of modern biology. To pretend that the existence of evolution is somehow still an open question, or that it is one of several equally valid theories, is to misunderstand the intellectual and scientific history of the past century.

This is spot on.  And it will most likely elicit complaints of bias, misrepresentation, dogmatism, or accusations that the Post is ignoring the case for ID, as Bruce Chapman recently whined.  In Chapman’s world, there is his viewpoint, and there is the opposing viewpoint, and the media’s only job is to present both sides.  Just like a good relativist.

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Comment #41254

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on August 4, 2005 12:33 PM (e)

Good article. The Truth™ link needs fixing.

Comment #41256

Posted by Andy Groves on August 4, 2005 1:00 PM (e)

And it will most likely elicit complaints of bias, misrepresentation, dogmatism, or accusations that the Post is ignoring the case for ID, as Bruce Chapman recently whined. In Chapman’s world, there is his viewpoint, and there is the opposing viewpoint, and the media’s only job is to present both sides.

The Daily Show said it best:

STEWART: Here’s what puzzles me most, Rob. John Kerry’s record in Vietnam is pretty much right there in the official records of the US military, and haven’t been disputed for 35 years?

CORDDRY: That’s right, Jon, and that’s certainly the spin you’ll be hearing coming from the Kerry campaign over the next few days.

STEWART: Th-that’s not a spin thing, that’s a fact. That’s established.

CORDDRY: Exactly, Jon, and that established, incontrevertible fact is one side of the story.

STEWART: But that should be – isn’t that the end of the story? I mean, you’ve seen the records, haven’t you? What’s your opinion?

CORDDRY: I’m sorry, my *opinion*? No, I don’t have ‘o-pin-i-ons’. I’m a reporter, Jon, and my job is to spend half the time repeating what one side says, and half the time repeating the other. Little thing called ‘objectivity’ – might wanna look it up some day.

STEWART: Doesn’t objectivity mean objectively weighing the evidence, and calling out what’s credible and what isn’t?

CORDDRY: Whoa-ho! Well, well, well – sounds like someone wants the media to act as a filter! [high-pitched, effeminate] ‘Ooh, this allegation is spurious! Upon investigation this claim lacks any basis in reality! Mmm, mmm, mmm.’ Listen buddy: not my job to stand between the people talking to me and the people listening to me.

Comment #41258

Posted by Steve Reuland on August 4, 2005 1:31 PM (e)

Link fixed. Thanks for pointing it out.

Comment #41261

Posted by Steverino on August 4, 2005 2:13 PM (e)

It’s sad when established fact can be misrepresented and no one is held accountable.

Hey, wait…isn’t accountability one of the cornerstones of Conservatism???…hhhmmmmmm

Comment #41262

Posted by Frank Schmidt on August 4, 2005 2:24 PM (e)

I suffered through the Diane Rehm show this morning, which was about the same topic. It was pretty funny listening to the Rev. Dr. Lyons of the Southern Baptist Convention lying through his teeth about the “scientists whose scientific research has led them to ID” and the fact that “many of this growing number are not religious.” What crap.

Rehm was pretty incredulous, and Nick did a good job, as did Alan Leschner from AAAS. But this guy kept on preaching falsehood.

Comment #41329

Posted by Tod on August 4, 2005 9:50 PM (e)

This is from an article in the WaPo a while back about Phillip Johnson. I had been thinking about the weird connection between ID arguments against … science, basically, and some of the crazier out there leftist poststructural type philosophers. And then I read this and I was like, well there it is!

He was nudged along by his interest in “critical legal studies,” a left-wing movement that holds that the law is prejudice masquerading as objective truth. Asked to contribute a conservative critique for the Stanford Law Review, Johnson embraced the movement – sort of.

“I disliked intensely their infantile politics,” he says. “But their critique of liberal rationalism and the sham neutrality of rationalism helped me become a Christian. I became the entire right wing of critical legal studies.”

The relativism thing is CENTRAL to the agenda of the religious right. They actually stand behind cultural relativism and anti rationality as a position from which to make arguments against the possibility and value of a secular multicultural commons. This would be in order to demolish any claims to universal demonstrable humanist truth. Then in its place they would raise up the one revealed truth, which they control, their own particular sectarian interpretation of Christianity. I kind of see this as the real utility of ID to the christian right agenda. Discrediting the idea of demonstrable truth would be the sought after effect of introducing ID into public education.

From here it should be clear how destructive and aggressive this agenda is. They want to destroy the cultural commons that makes possible peaceful coexistence of different religions and traditions. The separation between church and state is meant to protect the churches. But all the churches and this is not okay. They want DOMINION.

Comment #41375

Posted by ts on August 5, 2005 5:53 AM (e)

MediaMatters.org points out that the WaPo editorial isn’t as excellent as it could be:

http://mediamatters.org/items/200508030005

DailyHowler.com also has been making critical comments about ID, and has a link today to the NYTimes letters page with mostly anti-ID comments. I’m beginning to think that Bush’s announcement was a very good thing for us – it’s gotten a lot of coverage in the mainstream press and on blogs, mostly negative. It’s important that people be aware of what ID/DI is up to, and to worry about it, especially with backing from Bush, with his C average, lack of interest in books, and very low approval rating.

Comment #41391

Posted by SEF on August 5, 2005 7:23 AM (e)

Maybe Bush apparently endorsing something has made a larger number of people suspect through experience that it is therefore highly likely to be bogus and thus they are more open to looking for and considering the real experts, good arguments and factual evidence and taking the scientific message on board.

Perhaps only someone like the fictional Homer Simpson has a greater public identification with being consistently wrong and thus prompting people to reject things he endorses. The US (or even the world) needs an official token congenital complete idiot in order to inform all the mere half-wits (Tenth Kingdom joke) of which things to avoid doing or saying.